Look, I’m the first person to shake my lady-like fist at anybody who uses the internet to put people down, be it in the name of I Hate So-and-So Clubs, “complaint threads” for actors you can’t stand simply for playing a character they had nothing to do with writing, mean and nasty blogs and reviews that just spread more negativity throughout the universe, ugly gossip and hurtful judgements on people we haven’t the faintest pleasure of knowing… It seems like such a waste of energy to me, and although diedrkellerdie.com has a great ring to it, I believe the internet should be used for more positive purposes. Like googling pictures of Ryan Reynolds. Or mapping out the quickest way to get to the Bloomingdale’s sample sale. Or finding the “cheapest hotel I could find in that area, I swear” for that trip to Paris with your boyfriend. We can all agree the internet is an amazing thing, and I’d like to use it for the greater good.
Having said that, my idea of the greater good happens to be warning the shit out of you when I eat a bad meal at a restaurant. And also having a wee friendly gripe about this whole fancy food craze that’s just gone way out of control.
I adore and appreciate food in all its conformities, shapes, and sizes. I have as much respect for a perfectly buttery, puffy morsel of mashed potato at L’Atelier Joel Robuchon as I do a fried egg sandwich. I am the least elitist, anti-snob foodie you will ever meet, but I also appreciate the wondrous accomplishment at an incredible restaurant that goes into a five-star meal I know I could never recreate at home, and because of that I’m more than happy to pay for it. But the most important thing we should all agree on, regardless of price or personal taste, from Chef Thomas Keller to Chef Ronald Mc Donald, is that food better well taste good. No matter the palate, we expect our appetite to be satiated, our cravings to be curbed, and most of all, we want the experience to be a rewarding one. When anybody asks you what you feel like for dinner, isn’t the answer always, “Something good”? When have we ever been craving “something mediocre”? Or, worse, “something that looks like art but tastes like dust and makes me fork out half my pay check to pay for it”? In this world full of ridiculously outstanding restaurant riches, I know it’s imperative to stand out from the crowd, but can we please go back to the fundamental home-spun value that food should taste great above all else?
So there’s this new restaurant in Vancouver called Pidgin. Cute name, even cuter bartenders, a warm room with lots of white and sexy steel light fixtures, classy clientele, basically what looked to be a great addition to the ever-growing Gastown restaurant scene. The menu sounds crazy delicious with things like in-house made sweet and salty nuts, beef tataki with black garlic and gruyere cheese, scallops and fried polenta, potatoes with seaweed butter and cod roe… Sounds like a win, right? Thing is, they’ve jazzed up these creations to the point of the bizarre, the lackluster, and the simply unappetizing. Is anybody in the kitchen tasting this food? Is the whole point of this place to dazzle our eyes enough that our tongues won’t notice the misbalance of flavors, the total lack of respect for the ingredients, and the absence of finesse in these dishes? A lot of the time I’d excuse a place for having an off-night, but I don’t think that’s what was going on here. More mystifying, who on earth would ever be craving this type of food at any given point enough to go back? Isn’t that the whole point of a restaurant, to impress a patron enough that they become a returning customer? Have I asked enough questions in this paragraph? As long as I’m on a roll, whatever happened to Jonathan Taylor Thomas?
Some of what we ordered:
I know this isn’t exactly Saveur magazine, and I probably have very little idea of how much work went into making these dishes. But it doesn’t matter, and that’s my point. They should be delicious. They deserve to be delicious. This city has access to some of the most amazing, freshest ingredients available, and why should’t they shine in all their glory? Meaning, there’s no excuse for a damn raw potato! I don’t care if they do it in France and it’s fancy and makes you look cool and worldly! Please dear God cook my potatoes!
Word is starting to spread fast amongst us culinary amateur foodies in this city, and the word is, this place may be for the birds.
OMG did you see what Nicki Minaj was wearing on Perez Hilton today?!