It’s weird to me that The Globe & Mail employs a restaurant critic in Vancouver, yet hides her behind a pay wall. Perhaps in Toronto you can get away with that, but The Globe is a Toronto-centric paper—in 416 ways Torontonians are themselves too Torontonian to ever completely comprehend. It has no relevance in this city, no salience whatsoever: no one cares. This, I feel, is great for Alexandra Gill. Gill, a fair reviewer with a good local reputation, has the luxury of being as critical as she chooses. It's never nice to read not nice things written about you, but it hurts less, I would guess, knowing that, at least, the bad review appeared in The Globe, which, thanks to a culturally miscalculated paywall, no one can read at all, even the ones who might want to.
Still, criticism stings. And so I feel for Dachi, a new restaurant in my neighbourhood, which recently got given the full Gilling over. I like that place. I feel less bad for TacoFino Ocho, the latest restaurant (opened this year) in what Gill considers a franchise, which also was recently Gillviscerated. TacoFino hired a celebrity chef, Stefan Hartmann. From Bauhaus, the only Michelin-starred restaurant in the city. The trend towards the fusion of mass-mediated celebrity chefs and corporate dining culture, of which Tacofino seems emblematic, squeezes independent and creative operators out of the market. If you hire a one-star Michelin chef from Germany to design your new taco menu you better make sure your joint is serving up the best motherfucking tacos in the Pacific Northwest and so here I have to agree with Gill, Tacofino Ocho is not—definitely, definitely not—serving the best tacos in any category. The critique is valid. It’s also, I fear—and as I reiterate with no evidence--totally irrelevant to Tacofino’s fortunes. That’s the good news for Dachi, too; no one cares! That’s the bad news for The Magnet: Gill loves this new Gastown restaurant and beer room, understandably so—but she writes for The Globe! The Globe is a legacy paper from an uninteresting place really, really faraway. Seriously, you still employ Margaret Wente, and you’re straight-facedly asking readers to pay you? Pure gall! I mean Gill.