The intrepid Parkdale Pumas—public schoolers turned restaurant critics for the performance art project Eat the Street—have delivered their final verdict on 12 of Queen Street’s trendiest spots. The two-month dinner series was curated by Mammalian Diving Reflex and culminated at the awards ceremony at The Gladstone on Monday. Honours were given out in such amusingly guileless (if unorthodox) categories as “nicest waitress on Queen Street West,” “best-smelling washroom” and “best magnetic letters.”
Since March 26, the group of 12- and 13-year-olds has been taking on Queen West establishments at intervention-style seatings designed to shake up the scene. The debutante diners rated each experience with brutal honesty. Here are some highlights from the jury picks:
The Drake carried the night (apparently these kids are hipsters in the making) with four wins, including overall best restaurant. The hot spot also picked up awards for “hottest waiters” (an accolade sure to fire up the followings of smouldering servers Tyler and Daniel) and “hottest girls everywhere.” When general manager Bill Simpson accepted the awards, he joked that “we do call ourselves a hotbed for culture.” Exactly one person laughed.
A representative from Mitzi’s Sister let out an apropos yelp of excitement when awarded “noisiest restaurant” but seemed confused when also handed the decoration for “scariest washroom” on account of “eerie” red lighting.
We were happy to see that Oddfellows, our pick for the dinner escapade, showed well. Chef Matty Matheson took home the informal award of “best beaver” (his acceptance speech: “I love beaver”) for the decorative stuffed creature kept at the restaurant. He also snagged “coolest chef” for a guided tour he gave of his head-to-toe tattoos, which include an Oddfellows insignia and a tribute to single moms.
Though we can’t corroborate the washroom scariness, we think the Pumas are discerning—Matheson’s body paint is unquestionably cool. Our favourite tattoo is WWDD: what would Didi Dee Dee (Ramone) do? Good question.
Complete list of winners in official categories:
• Best overall restaurants: 1. The Drake, 2. Czehoski, 3. Shangrila
• Coolest chef: Matty Matheson at Oddfellows
• Scariest bathroom: Mitzi’s Sister
• Hottest waiters: Tyler and Daniel at The Drake
• Hottest waitress: Marina at Cadillac Lounge
• Best ice cream: Skyline Restaurant
• Nicest waiter: Jeff at Czehoski
• Nicest waitress: Liz at The Beaver
• Best momo: Shangrila
• Least graffiti in washroom: Saigon Flower
• Best lassi: Mother India
• Best food presentation: Addis Ababa