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Everything posted by Deacon

  1. Shouldn't you be doing something?
  2. I was just poring over my looong list of restaurants I'd like to try one day, and several names popped out at me. Some were just intriguing, like A Fish Called Avalon in Miami Beach, Colt & Alison in Sea Island, Georgia, and Father's Office in Santa Monica. But who the hell would eat at The Gutter in Highland Park, CA? (You might as well call your restaurant "The Sewer.") Same for Bloodroot in Bridgeport, CT, or The Dead Fish in Crockett, CA, or even Raw Living Foods in San Francisco. I guess the owner of Conundrum in Aspen couldn't decide what to put on the menu. Mr. Lucky's 24/7 doesn't sound too bad a place, once you know it's in Las Vegas. I wouldn't name a restaurant after an Adam Sandler movie, but the owner of The Waterboy in Sacramento apparently did. And One If By Land, Two If By Sea (in NYC) just seems too long. Too many words, although I've seen it abbreviated to 1IBL,2IBS. Still doesn't seem too euphonious, even abbreviated. Finally, the legions of Dudley Moore/Peter Cook fans have created at least three different restaurants called The Frog and the Peach. Trying to be different, though, there's one in Richmond, VA, called The Frog and the Redneck. So what are the best/worst/most interesting restaurant names you've heard of?
  3. Deacon

    A Cook's Tour

    Sounds like sig file material to me! BTW, Tony, don't get me wrong--I got two new leads from that episode. I mean for restaurants. *pause* If it's skits you want, I'd like to suggest: 1) an episode with Bourdain and Rachael Ray together (Ray annoys Bourdain by singing songs from "Annie" and "The Wizard of Oz," and Bourdain annoys Ray by threatening to inject her with heroin if she doesn't stop.) 2) Emeril and Jamie Oliver, hancuffed together, pursued through a swamp by the villains from the movie "Hard Target."
  4. Deacon

    A Cook's Tour

    I think most of the episode involved Bourdain having a little fun at the expense of his own reputation. Real: * Crazy Bob's alligator tour (which, BTW, is something a tourist would do) * all the meals, and Bourdain's reactions to them Transparently Fake: * Bourdain getting punched in the face and kicked in the nards for disrespecting Emeril * the whole arrest business (production would stop dead if it happened for real, plus it wouldn't exactly be a good ad for the show or Food Network to have Bourdain actually arrested, plus the notoriously "touchy" N.O. police isn't going to let a camera crew anywhere near a real arrest) * Bourdain pointedly staying in a really bad hotel and pointedly ordering "your cheapest bourbon" Maybe he was satirizing Emeril's hijinks. At least, I hope he was. I felt kind of cheated--all the cutesy, junior-high-assembly-skit business was time taken away from food. If he didn't want to go to Bayona for the finale, why not Lafitte's Landing in Donaldsonville, or someplace on the North Shore like La Provence or Artesia? If he wanted to be "authentic," why not scrap the Crazy Bob stuff and drive out to the Acadiana Seafood Patio in Abbeville--that's about as authentic Cajun as you can get. Or totally subvert the audience's expectations and find some hole-in-the-wall Chinese place like China Blossom in Gretna? Or Mosca's, which is half-Cajun, half-Italian, and out in the middle of a swamp? Any of these places would've been more interesting than seeing Bourdain get endlessly mugged by Emeril fans.
  5. Deacon

    A Cook's Tour

    Yeah, their cheapest bourbon--and their most expensive cigarettes: Dunhills. Kind of a contradiction. If he'd wanted to come off as Captain Willard, stuck in Saigon waiting for his mission, he should've ordered a pack of unfiltered Camels. And then done drunken kung-fu in the background, ending with a shot of him smashing a mirror with his fist. . . .
  6. Deacon

    A Cook's Tour

    Actually, I was surprised to see Bourdain put on a little skit. Usually the shows seem so much more unplanned and spontaneous. The New Orleans show seemed scripted--and therefore rigged--from beginning to end, except for the Crazy Bob segments. (Finally, after overselling the premise a bit, Bourdain says: "Oh, yeah, the guy with the crooked teeth? I hate that guy!"--and gets punched in the face anyway. ) I'm telling you, Bourdain ought to find Dave Attell from "Insomniac" on the Comedy Channel and collaborate. The New Orleans show seemed very much like something Attell did for his New Orleans episode. "A Cook's Tour" generally goes in a certain arc, with Bourdain starting in the cheaper places and working his way up to a big culinary blowout at the end. That's what I wanted to see. I was expecting him to arrive at Bayona and spend a lot of money. Instead we got Bourdain beaten, arrested, and drunk in his (fleabag) hotel room. Big deal. I don't need to see that on TV: that's what happens when *I* go to New Orleans.
  7. But I thought that you've said in the past that anonymous reviews were unnecessary and that if a reviewer is known to the restaurant it makes no difference because a good reviewer can tell the difference.
  8. I put in the names of all the Seattle restaurants I could think of off the top of my head. Only The Herbfarm had no "red criticals," just a couple of "blues," each on a separate occasion. This isn't encouraging: Campagne had a few "red criticals," and I've eaten there. Glad I found out about Canlis, though.
  9. I'm with LML: Loiseau killed Loiseau. Imagine if Steven Spielberg had killed himself because Siskel & Ebert panned "1941." (Hard to conceive of, isn't it?) Instead, Spielberg ignored them and went on to direct "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan." Imagine Francis Ford Coppola killing himself in the middle of filming "Apocalypse Now" because of all the production problems. Running a kitchen seems almost easy in comparison to filming a movie in the middle of Thailand during typhoon season. I don't want to sound harsh or heartless, but being downgraded in Gault-Millau, presumably just provisionally, seems very little compared to what other great artists, in whatever field, have had to suffer. What are the writers of guidebooks and critics of all kinds supposed to do now, say to themselves "We'd better not be overly critical of his book/movie/restaurant/artwork because he might kill himself?"
  10. The "too much schmutz" issue is a result of the restaurant trying to have it both ways--to a) pack into the available space as many tables and chairs as possible, which results in too many tables, and b) make each setting at the table as ornate and opulent as possible, which paradoxically results in elbow jostling and an unpleasant, cramped dining experience. (Room for everything but the food. If you weren't there to eat, everything would be fine.) But you can understand why they do it--simple economics. Fewer tables would mean charging more for each meal to make up for the reduced volume, and the restaurant business is dicey enough as is.
  11. The Steelhead Grill, in the Marriott City Center, was very good, I thought. I have to qualify the recommendation by saying that it was a few years ago and I only went there for breakfast. But the decor and service were a cut above the level I expected. But I don't dispute your point, which is that for a city that size, the number of great restaurants is woefully short.
  12. Did someone just fart? (For those of you who accuse me of being a gratuitous provocateur, take a look at what a real troll sounds like.)
  13. No, even better: "Tabula Rasa"--the ultimate in minimalist restaurants. Undoubtedly opening next year in Greenwich Village. I know what you mean about overcrowding of tables. I had brunch on Sunday with seven other people. Huge portions, large platters, some of us had more than one course. By the time everyone's food was served I was almost eating with my plate in my lap, and it was the biggest table in the place. But then, you don't need dining companions to run out of room at a table. If I'm eating by myself, I need room to work: newspaper, notebooks, photographs, legal pad, etc. all spread out so I can see everything at once. Just a four-top for my own personal needs will be fine. Of course, in order to really feel comfortable, I require a table for eight. . . .
  14. No, but in my case it usually takes the form of one surly waiter and one polite waiter.
  15. *counts silently to himself, only moving his lips a little* Hey, there are only fourteen listed. Sun Dial is on there twice.
  16. Whenever I see Homer on "The Simpsons," I think, "Mmmmmmm, floor pie!" Oddly enough, that's also my reaction to Jennifer Aniston on "Friends."
  17. I saw the Travel Channel show as well. It gave the Burj al-Arab seven stars out of five (?). They've obviously spent a lot of money on the place--it was filled with every possible gimmick. As far as the interior design went, every wall, every surface seemed to be decorated with a different pattern for the eye to adapt to. There didn't seem to be a single place for a visitor to look to rest the eye, not a single undecorated space. (Although I suppose it's the Arab cultural theory that the desert itself represents the "undecorated space," and therefore everything else must be ornately decorated.) I'm more used to seeing the minimalist desert architecture of the American West in resorts, so to my untrained eye the place looked gaudily overdecorated.
  18. Good title. Now if I can only get my book written.
  19. I'm tickled as hell by the premise of this entire thread: Tom Clancy meets M.F.K. Fisher: (annnouncer's voice) "In a world . . . where only the best ingredients would do . . . one chef had only three hours to prepare dinner . . . and if he failed . . . his guests . . . would not be happy. . . ." (shot of an Apache helicopter rising from a parking lot next to a farmer's market) starring: Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan Laura Linney as Susan Spicer Emeril Lagasse as Emeril Lagasse special appearance by Charlton Heston as The President and Dom DeLuise as Paul Prudhomme Needs a title, though. Shellfish Games? The Hunt for Red Sauce? The Sum of All Menu Items?
  20. When words like "morality" and "bad faith" are used, perhaps the battle for the consumer dollar has already been lost, over one issue or another. It becomes too much of a power struggle to enjoy a nice meal when all the tension over policy is factored into the equation. People enjoy fine meals in restaurants to get away from such militancy. In a seller's market, such as you find with really popular restaurants like the French Laundry, the restaurant can impose any number of hoops for prospective diners to jump through. And some will jump through them, as a measure of their devotion to the hobby. (Certainly not out of necessity--no one has to eat at the French Laundry.) But restaurants that are no longer cutting edge can not afford to alienate customers by making it hard to get a table. Pierre au Tunnel (remember that one? it's apparently still in business) cannot afford the reservations restrictions that ADNY can command from the public. For them, it's not a seller's market.
  21. OK, Shaw, but where do you draw the line? If 100 faux reservations are clearly unethical, how about 99? 98? 97? And so on down the line, until you get to five. Or two. The best places have a way of not fostering an us-vs.-them mentality. Avoiding places that have undesirable policies, of whatever kind, is also part of the process, and just part of being a savvy consumer. Those places will fail or change--culinary Darwinism. It's not "idealism" to want to get the lowest possible price for what you buy, or "cynicism" to get the highest possible price for what you sell. It's not morally reprehensible to take advantage of a $20.03 lunch special at Le Bernardin for instance, just savvy consumerism. If I were in a position to take advantage of such an offer, I would not feel guilty for the poor underprivileged restaurant. They set the prices. What makes it an uneven playing field, I think, is that the businesses have all the power: the restaurants set their own policies, and they either have rules that they enforce on themselves or they don't. The customers can't set policy directly, they can only express their displeasure by staying away in droves and hoping that the business will get the message. It's a slow, indirect process, but it's the only way that consumers can set policy in an industry, by drawing a line and saying "OK, no farther, or you don't get any more of our money." Anyway, don't take my comments personally. The sarcasm lamp has not been lit.
  22. Some of us hold ourselves to a higher standard than that called for in mere law. Besides, your argument is a little like "everyone does it, and it's not *illegal* so that makes it OK." Having Candy the Cheerleader say that she'll go to the prom with you and then changing her mind when Dimwit Dave the Quarterback asks her later--well, that's not technically illegal later, but it's still unethical, ill-mannered, and inconsiderate of other people's feelings. And every time we (Jaymes and me and other kindred souls) act as if it's OK to operate that way, it just makes it that much easier for the Candy's of the world. (I still wonder, on occasion, whatever happened to Candy the Cheerleader. Probably married Dimwit Dave.)
  23. No, they'll just walk half a block to some place that doesn't ask for front money. Your argument especially doesn't wash in a place like NYC where the density of available restaurants is so great. It would be different in a town with only one restaurant--no competition. And, yes, *I* can always stay home and eat a ham sandwich. I *can* take it or leave it, which gives me power over the situation.
  24. To continue the analogy, why not put into the listings of restaurants how many seats the restaurant has? Or more specifically, how many two-tops, how many four-tops, etc.? This would be the equivalent of knowing whether you are booking a flight on a DC-10 or a 747. There could even be seating diagrams published, just as there are seating diagrams published of plane layouts and of stadium seating for sports events, etc. This just serves to put more info, and therefore more power, into the hands of the consumer. . . .
  25. You make it sound like an obstruction in a highway, something to be avoided. Is that what you meant? I would've said a buoy marking a channel, or perhaps a monument on a vast plain in the desert that serves as a beacon for future travellers to navigate by. You take your bearings (and keep going). There are monuments of various sizes in that desert, but some are bigger than others and therefore easier to navigate by. And travellers who try to chip away at the monuments of others have less time to build their own. Just a thought.
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