They just wanted a pop-up restaurant that was highly Instagrammable, because why do anything that doesn’t generate some good Instagram? But they didn’t think about the optics of taking a site where a homeless encampment was just swept away and serving $150 dinners in little terrariums.
One of Toronto’s hottest new restaurants is Dinner With A View. Located under Gardiner Expressway, this pop-up experience has everything: giant heated “terrariums” surrounding diners in flora, a celebrity chef preparing a “3-course blind menu” and, now, organized protests.
Local activists have taken umbrage that the luxurious restaurant now sits beneath the same expressway near where homeless people had been living until recently, when the city demolished encampments earlier this year, CTV News reported, citing safety concerns.
What was supposed to be an Instagram-friendly spin on fine dining became a flash point on Friday between the city’s wealthier residents and its most vulnerable ones.
Toronto, like many cities, has a high rents and a homeless problem. I’m not going to sneer at anybody spending $150 on dinner – I have eaten my share of high end restaurant dinners, although I’m not that into gimmicks like eating in a little terrarium, which seems like going to a high end restaurant and removing the “high end restaurant” part from the equation, but whatever turns you on, I suppose.
Doing it in a place where until recently the most marginalized people in your community were trying to find a place to sleep without freezing to death is a bit clueless, though.
I imagine that the people behind Dinner with a View of a Freeway Underpass were just trying to make a buck doing something different that would appeal to the current performative, pose-for-the-camera cultural norms, but they kind of got what they deserved when the diners instead had a view of irate activists banging drums outside their terrariums.
That’s the thing about posing for the camera; sometimes others have something else they’d like to get on camera, and your experience can get hijacked. Ultimately the view provided is one of the the tension between wealth and poverty that seems to define our lives now.