Best Of Food: Polls Are Now Open!

It’s March and that means three very important things: Spring is almost here, St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and prairie dog’s Best Of Food is back! Click here or on the rectangular red rectangle at the top of the page to go to the ballot (you’ll have to log in or set up an account, which is easy to do). Scroll down, read the categories, think about the food industry people and places you like and, when you’re ready, vote! But DON’T RUSH, because there are no do-overs once you hit “submit”!

But don’t put it off forever, either — you don’t want to miss out on a chance to win a prize worth $500. No you don’t.

(I’ve heard rumours there might be surprise bonus prizes awarded  over the next three weeks, too — so make sure you’re registered!).

Best Of Food! It’s back! Have fun! Enjoy the democracy! Voting ends at noon March 23.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth will never, ever pass up a chance to make a Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo pun.

15 thoughts on “Best Of Food: Polls Are Now Open!”

  1. Hey Ron, you don’t have to join facebook. That’s just one way to enter for those folks who use facebook. Just click the “Registration” tab and you should be on your way.

  2. So can someone explain to me the difference between this poll and the non-review reviews you blasted the L-P and Verb for? Im pretty sure both, in the end, are a means to sweet-talk ad buys out of local businesses? No?

  3. Difference is PD doesn’t control who wins or who posts their win in their shop (I always wonder about the ones still promoting their win from 2008…). I do find the polls are HEAVILY weighted to the downtown crowd and their opinions, which is predictable as that is their core audience.

  4. Hi Tim, thanks for the question. I’ll answer in three parts. This will be long and boring. Apologies.

    First, on restaurant reviews.

    To recap past rants: prairie dog runs honest and hopefully entertaining reviews that contain our critic’s genuine opinions (criticism as well as praise). The columns are written for our readers’ benefit — we want to give them an idea where to eat and what to order. We also want to amuse them: Aidan Morgan has an intelligent and quirky sense of humour that many readers (not to mention our own staff and writers) like.

    We’ll continue to run 16-20 reviews by Aidan every year.

    As you point out, I have often trashed the Leader-Post’s restaurant reviews by the recently-moved-on David Ramsey. I’m not sorry about this at all: they were boring, conspicuously contained zero criticism and were stylistically indistinguishable from advertorials. Newspaper columns should never read like advertorials.

    Verb’s columns are better written but I have yet to see a single criticism in them. Not one. This is a problem because that column also presents itself as a review. Is the writer a goofball who just likes everything, or is it pandering? I’m going with the latter.

    Consciously or unconsciously, the obvious purpose of both columns has been to praise potential advertisers in the hopes they’ll reward the publications with ad buys. I’ve written many times that this is gross.

    Unfortunately, Regina, in my experience, is a little more “you-rub-my-back-I’ll-rub-yours” than some other places. Over the years, I’ve heard from many restaurant owners who promise to purchase ads if we write nice things about them. Obviously, that has no affect on our editorial decisions.

    It sure as hell doesn’t serve Regina’s diners when publications like Verb and the Leader-Post pander to this ignorant attitude, though.

    As the often disappointed editor of a good and well-read alternative paper who just wants to see his beloved newspaper bursting with local advertising from cool businesses and organizations in an epic celebration of this little city on the Prairies, the fact that bad writing is often good business in Regina depresses me. But if Regina businesses want to spend their marketing budgets chasing hand-jobs from newspapers rather than new customers, well, that’s their stupid prerogative. We’ll live. Our readers love us, after all.

    It’s just really disappointing that Verb and the L-P seem to profit from their hackery.

    Second, about the Best of Food.

    Not everything needs to be a review. There are other kinds of writing. For instance, QC has run profiles of local business owners that were legitimately interesting. And we run articles about musicians that aren’t extended criticisms of their records.

    (I also expect C.J. Katz’ upcoming Leader-Post restaurant column will be worth reading, even though there’s almost zero chance it’ll be a true review.)

    Best of Food, like Best Of Regina, is not a restaurant review and I’m not apologizing for it. It’s a popular feature about a popular reader poll about the best food industry people and places. There’s nothing wrong with this.

    If Best of Food was an advertising feature, as I believe you are hypothesizing, Tim, we’d hand-pick winners who were likely to advertise and bend over backwards to praise them. We do neither — in fact it’s pretty much guaranteed that some prairie dog-hating restaurants will win and some prairie dog loving restaurants will lose. Because we write for readers.

    My name is on this feature, and I wouldn’t run Best Of Food if it didn’t stand on its editorial merits. We work very hard to balance good jokes and useful information in the 100 or so short profiles of the people and businesses our readers pick. People tell me they read the blurbs and laugh, so on balance, we’re doing our job.

    Finally, advertising.

    Like most magazines and newspapers, prairie dog sells advertising space. This is called capitalism. Businesses and organizations purchase advertising space in prairie dog and on our website because they want to get our readers’ attention. This is called good marketing. Prairie dog’s sales and editorial departments operate separately — my side occasionally write things that give our salespeople headaches, and the salespeople occasionally sell ads I do not approve of. This is called The Way It Works.

    I’m not apologizing for any of it.

    Thanks for the comment.

  5. Editorial merit? Like you guys making fun of your own readers for picking McDonald’s as having the best french fries a few years ago? Or your “hipper-than-thou” writers making their whole blurb about how they’ve never been to a particular place like Montana’s because it’s a family place? That’s not really putting a lot of effort into it.

    I’m not saying that best of regina has to be a review or that it’s an explicit advertising feature, I’m saying that it serves little purpose other than to encourage businesses to buy ad space. The results are similar year to year because your core audience picks the same places over and over, with the rare exceptions being when a new place opens up or The Fainting Goat organizes a concerted campaign to get as many wins as possible. It’s myopic. By your own logic your reviews (which are, admittedly, usually pretty stellar — that Aidan Morgan is carrying the torch very nicely) are much more helpful in highlighting which places are worth your readers’ time. But opening it up to the opinion of readers/voters in the poll leaves the decision-making to the plebians who cast a ballot.

  6. @Tim:

    “Editorial merit? Like you guys making fun of your own readers for picking McDonald’s as having the best french fries a few years ago?”

    Yes. Making fun of stuff has editorial merit.

    “I’m saying [Best Of Regina] serves little purpose other than to encourage businesses to buy ad space.”

    Pshaw! It’s interesting and people love it.

    “opening it up to the opinion of readers/voters in the poll leaves the decision-making to the plebians who cast a ballot.”

    I agree that Saskatchewan voting results are sometimes disappointing. They’re still worth writing about.

    “Aidan Morgan is carrying the torch very nicely”

    Thank you, I’ll pass that on!

  7. Hang on a second, Tim. Even though I’m ineligible to win the big prize for participating, I still cast a ballot every year.

    You calling me a plebian??!

    Them’s fightin’ words!

  8. My rule has been to pick on columnists rather than commentors.
    And how was my ski holiday? Great, except that a snowmobiler was killed just before we left for home.

  9. Right. I knew that.
    Well… I spelled it wrong as well so you’re in the clear.

    As for holiday… Glad you had fun but sorry to hear about the snowmobiler.

  10. I take your point, Stephen, but really, columnists should be held to a higher standard because the language is part of their stock in trade. Some commentors struggle to express themselves, for various reasons, and I don’t want to be picking on someone who is dyslexic, or who has an acquired brain injury, or whose first language is not English.

  11. best poutine: The mercury.
    best spring rolls: Viet-thai
    best restaurant: viet-thai
    best thai restaurant: viet-thai
    best vietnamese restaurant: viet-thai
    best ice cream:bernard callebaut

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