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Oakes Weekly - September 30th, 2006

So I Decided to Become a Restaurant Reviewer
Oakes Weekly September 30, 2006      
Written by Oakes

Vancouver, CANADA -

I signed up for a restaurant reviewing website last week. Basically I had gone out to dinner at one of my favourite restaurants and decided to see what the Internet knew of this little place. It’s a humble hole in the wall with stupid good food. To my surprise, not all the reviews were positive. My mind was blown. This place is well-known in town as being amazing, from the top chefs down to amateur food geeks like me.

Well, I had to sign up. My opening review was a vicious bit of trolling, ripping on the negative reviewers for anything I could think of. Being that most of the negative reviewers were from the suburbs, I took that one and ran with it. I despise the suburban lifestyle and everything it stands for. And it was not a surprise to me that folks from those parts couldn’t look past the humble interior and low prices to notice that the food is amazing.

I then added a few more reviews, again promoting those humble little places that just happen to be turning out the best food in Vancouver. I don’t honestly care much for any institutional food, no matter how swanky the setting. If you check in the underbelly of the top hotels around town, you see they are supplied to the likes of Sysco, whose massive trucks invariably have the rudest drivers this side of those fucking ugly SUV/limo crosses. You check out the pantries of the finest joints in town and they’re chock full of giant cans of this and that, like Costco-sized only bigger. They charge serious money for food that, preparation aside, I can buy down the street.

So for about an hour I was just going off on this and that, while at the same time trying to get my views out there about how good a place like Falafel Maison, the little 6-seat shack by the library where the owner and his wife proudly display posters of Lebanon and crank Middle Eastern music while dishing out giant shawarmas fit for a king.

I’m presuming by now you’ve noticed what I noticed a few days later when I took the time to reflect on what my restaurant-rating strategy might be. WHAT A GODDAMN SNOB!

I don’t know that I could have sounded more like an asshole if I set out to do so. I’m right, of course, but I can’t imagine anyone reading those reviews would think so. They’d just think I was a dick, unless of course they already shared my views.

And I looked at the way I talk about a lot of different things, like music or travel. I don’t know a whole ton about music so I generally stick to “I like this” and “I don’t really grasp the appeal of that” and don’t stick my opinions out far enough for anyone to care. Travel’s a bit different in that I have a deep love for the road and find the way most people travel to be completely mind-boggling. It’s all quite vapid, doing the things you’re supposed to do and being completely unable to do anything that someone didn’t tell you that you should do.

So what about beer? Well, I don’t know that I’m that much of a snob about beer. I suspect that ultimately I’m more comfortable with my knowledge of beer and don’t feel the need to prove how awesome a beer geek I am. With food and all this other stuff, I know that I don’t know that much but have passions. So I try to prove to the world that I’m not just some other anonymous guy on the web. (This really only applies to the web because obviously in person I’m not anonymous and I don’t have all that much to prove to people who already know me and my way of looking at things).

And then I look at beer rating. OK, so I’m comfortable enough to appreciate a well-made pale lager or even malt liquor. I can admit my biases and accept that not everything I say is perfect or even right (I have a few beers where my rating as presently listed is way off from my current opinion). I can overcome my biases and admit when a brown ale is actually really good (thanks, Duck Rabbit).

But there’s a lot of people who approach beer rating like I’ve done with the restaurants. They’re either afraid to stand out from the crowd or they’re too eager to do so.

I’m not singling out anybody. I’m not even thinking of anybody privately. I just noticed that this trap was out there and if I’m doing it for restaurants then certainly there must be people who do this for beer.

If you think you might be one of these people don’t worry. Just chill out, relax, and drink a beer. Without rating it. Look at the Top 50 and don’t worry about what’s overrated or underrated. Enjoy forming your own opinions without concerning yourself about what others think.

I’ve come to the conclusion that although I would like to practice and become a better restaurant reviewer, I honestly will get too stressed out because my views on food are esoteric even amongst food nuts. I enjoyed eating out and having opinions on food and restaurants much more before I decided to rate it. So I have decided after a week to retire from restaurant reviewing so I can go back to enjoying great food at my humble little holes in the wall.



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start quote My opening review was a vicious bit of trolling, ripping on the negative reviewers for anything I could think of. end quote