Montreal native Jason is an amateur food critic who reviews Montreal restaurants for his entertaining and very funny (okay, and occasionally raunchy) blog, Shut Up and Eat.
Jane’s fries are my favorite kind of fries—made with Yukon gold potatoes, they’re dense and pillowy to the bite…kind of like my three-year-old nephew, but the fries don’t cry when you bite them.
You won’t find a photo of Jason here or anywhere on his website, because he does his reviews undercover. He’s also a Montreal brand ambassador for Dishcrawl.com, which involves organizing and hosting food events around the city.
Jason hopes to expand Shut Up and Eat to other cities and branch out into a world beyond food on his site.
Does your day job have anything to do with food?
Not at all. I’m a graphic designer by trade and wiseass by hobby.
Why did you decide to start Shut Up and Eat? Did you have any experience in restaurant criticism before you started?
I ate out at restaurants often and my friends and family would ask me for suggestions. I started the blog mainly to log (blog) my experiences and share with them, and it took off form there. I don’t have formal experience in restaurant criticism other than complaining after a bad meal.
Speaking of bad meals, you’ve said on your blog that you only cover places you like. Why not cover the not-so-hot restaurants, too?
I enjoy food too much to want to focus on ruining a restaurant and its employees’ image or reputation because of a bad experience or an off night; I’ll leave it up to the professional critics to do that. If I happen to go back and the food is good, I’ll write about it, but mention the prior visit.
What if you’re on the fence—the meal had its successes and fails? Say, the food was good but the service was bad. How do you handle it?
Great service can always make up for bad food, never the other way around. But in the end, bad food is still bad food and bad food is gross.
After four years of blogging about Montreal restaurants, do you approach your dining-out experiences differently? How has your restaurant-going experience changed?
I’ve learned a lot more about food, its preparation and ingredients, which has led me to be more conscious of what I eat and pay more attention the details. I always keep an open mind because of the amazingly wonderful chefs Montreal has and all the new and innovative things they’re doing.
How often do you eat out for the blog?
Twice a week if I’m trying to gather content, as I don’t write about every restaurant I dine at.
What have been one or a few of the most memorably fantastic dishes you’ve had in Montreal?
Roasted side of tuna otoro from Kazu, chicken-fried all-dressed pizza from Icehouse, braised beef poutine from Poutineville, lamb and coriander dumplings from Qing Hua, and the lobster burger from Deville Dinerbar to name a few.
What advice do you have for visitors to Montreal looking for a great meal?
Put away the guidebook and ask a local or find an up-to-date blog. Plan ahead and make sure you research: every neighborhood has great restaurants to discover.
Do you have any aspirations to becoming a professional food writer or restaurant critic?
I love what I do, and I do what I love. I don’t know where this will take me, but I accept and welcome anything that comes from it.
What’s the best thing that has happened as a result of starting your blog?
Meeting and interacting with my amazing readers and followers. I love having the opportunity to share my findings with people who are passionate about food; the good, bad and the ugly (I mean the food).
Okay, let’s finish with a quick-association game. In Montreal, what is your favourite place for
…alleviating late-night hunger?
Angela Pizzeria & Restaurant for the “Angela” pizza special
Maison Kam Fung for dim sum
…inexpensive quick lunch?
Schwartz’s for a medium fat sandwich, half sour pickle and Cherry Coke
…a no-holds barred dinner, whatever the price?
Joe Beef does Au Peid de Cochon’s Cabane à Sucre (in my dreams)