I don’t get it. What is the deal with the crab cakes on this show? It seems almost every restaurant has had them on the menu, and Gordon is sure to order them and subsequently rip them to shreds, taste-wise. Is the man obsessed with crappy crab cakes? (Say that one three times fast). Does he watch too much Deadliest Catch? Own stock in a crab meat company? We may never know. What I can tell you that this is another bug-free episode, so feel free to uncover your eyes and read on without fear of losing your appetite...
Meet and Greet
This week’s restaurant in distress is The Olde Stone Mill, a quite pretty place in Tuckahoe, N.Y. Pretty to look at, but not a great place to chow down, however. Handyman/owner Dean and his wife have managed to renovate the building and create a lovely restaurant, but he left out one important thing: good food. Sole chef Mike is tired of Dean’s attitude, and readily admits that he has lost his passion for cooking. And it shows. He complains that the main customer base comes from a nearby assisted living facility, because apparently the “bluehairs” don’t deserve tasty food. Mealymouthed general manager Tom adds nothing to the equation, he seems quite the waste of space. Dean is stressing about how much he owes, and his wife Barbara doesn’t have a clue how deep in debt they are.
In rolls Gordon on his silver motorcycle to save the day! Or not. We'll see. He’s impressed by the building, calling it beautiful, but wonders why nobody is actually eating there. He almost drove by it, not realizing it was a restaurant. Dean is impressed by Gordon, comparing his Michelin stars to World Series rings. Hostess Jeannie is smitten, grinning as Gordon introduces himself. Back off, lady!
Crap in a Bag
Gordo takes a seat and peruses the menu. Of course, he orders the ever-present crab cakes, along with a chopped salad and shrimp cocktail, risotto, and tilapia for the main course. Sounds good, yeah? It sounds better than it looks. After asking the moronic waiter if he thought chewing gum while waiting tables was normal (he did), Gordon finally gets his appetizers. Picking at the crab cake, he complains of an odd flavor, reminiscent of sour mayonnaise. Ew. The shrimp cocktail is no better, consisting of deep-fried, phyllo-wrapped shrimp blobs hanging off a dish. Thumbs down. Dean is not happy. Out comes the chopped salad in the shape of a little volcano. Gordon asks how it got its weird shape, and they bring out the funnel that was used as a mold. He makes fun, and Dean is now officially offended. They bring out the tilapia, cooked in a parchment bag, and upon opening said bag Gordon compares the sight to “s*** in a bag that someone placed in the oven.” It really does look foul. The mushroom risotto is called “hot and disgusting,” obviously overcooked even on my non-HD tv. Gordon makes Dean come out and eat some of the nasty food, making harsh comments while he eats. “Your food is crap!” he exclaims. Dean says that if that was anyone else sitting across from him, he would have thrown them out. He wanted to take the plate and smash it on top of Gordon’s head.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t these fools sign up for this show? For a reason? I know the truth may be hard to hear, but suck it up and learn something. Sheesh.
Gordon sits down with Dean and his wife, asking some tough financial questions. It seems that wifey hasn’t a clue what’s going on financially with the restaurant, content to leave everything to her husband. “What you don’t know can’t hurt you, right?” she asks. Well, no, dumbass. Not when you’re running a business that’s half a million bucks in debt. She’s shocked at that little revelation, breaking into tears. They’re drowning in mortgage payments and loans.
One Squid Martini, Please
Time to check out the Saturday night dinner service, one of the only days this place is actually busy. Chef Mike is overwhelmed with all the orders. I’m overwhelmed that they haven’t hired the guy some freaking help. While Mike slaves in the kitchen, Dean, Tom, and Jeannie are wandering around in their own little world out on the floor, not really doing anything helpful. People are already complaining about waiting for their food.
When a few dishes do begin leaving the kitchen, Gordon is flustered at the over-embellished food. He asks what’s up with the fried calamari in a huge martini glass. Yes, it’s as dumb-looking as it sounds. Jeanie says that Mike does like to “presentate the food real nice.” Presentate? My spell checker sure doesn’t like that one. Tom explains that they try to dress up the food because the dishes “suck.” He speaks the truth. People are bitching about the unappetizing, often cold food. And the over-salted risotto. Food gets sent back, and Mike gets even more behind. You’d think someone would pitch in and help, but no. Mike isn’t happy with the food he’s whipping up, but Dean insists that he serve it anyhow. Gordon is nonplussed. Dean just wants the food on the tables, edible or not.
Gordon lets them have it after dinner service, especially Dean for allowing crappy food to be served. He tells Dean that he doesn’t really want change and isn’t committed. Dean bows up to Chef Gordon, yelling that “it’s what I have to do!” Gordo calls him a fake, and Dean calls him one back (third grade, anyone?). Dean storms off, then comes back. “I have more commitment to this place then you’ll ever have to anything,” he tells Gordon. “What?!” is Gordon’s response. That was my reaction, too. Lots of bleeping ensues during this little pissing contest, ending with Gordon telling the fuming Dean that he must change, like it or not.
Steakhouse vs. Poorhouse
Gordon goes for a walk in the neighborhood, checking out the nearby restaurants. Not one steakhouse in sight. So he finds a nice meat market that would be willing to supply a restaurant with some fresh beef, bringing back a huge cut of prime rib for Mike to work with. Gordon wants the place to be known for something besides nasty food, and a kickass steakhouse would be a great new identity. Mike is nervous but excited to cook along with Gordon as he shows him how to make a real chopped salad, melting the silly funnels with a torch as Mike good-naturedly laughs. Gordon explains to Dean how he wants the focus to change to a steakhouse, but Dean isn’t so sure it’ll work. “You cooked a simple prime rib and expect that to bring people in?” Dean says. Gordon retorts that he owns twelve successful restaurants, and Dean owns...none.
Day four, and it’s relaunch day. Gordon’s team worked through the night to spruce up the place, giving it an actual stone sign so people will realize it’s actually a restaurant and not just an old building. They also put pictures of the renovation around the room inside to give a feel of it’s history. The seating area was also revamped with fresh colors, candles and flowers. Dean likes the changes, but still seems to bristle at the total menu redo. Gordon presents the staff with the new steakhouse dishes, and tries to get Tom to practice selling the new cuts of meat. Except that Tom doesn’t know chopped liver from porterhouse. Dean calls his staff “mediocre.” Hey, you hired these people.
Antiperspirant is Your Friend
Time for the first dinner service, and the place is packed. The mayor has even shown up. Everyone’s running around like mad, and Tom is cracking under the pressure. He still can’t explain the new cuts of meat to the customers, and then he begins “sweating like a pig,” apparently leaving a trail of stink wafting behind him. Gordon shoos him to the bathroom to remedy the situation. Meanwhile, only a few customers have been served after 45 minutes. The mayor is not one of them. Chef Mike is having trouble getting his orders printed through the computer and complains to Dean, but he blows him off. Gordon goes to the kitchen to see what the holdup is, calls Dean back there, and a shouting match ensues between Dean and Mike. Gordon rolls his eyes, says a few bleepable words, and calls the staff for a meeting to regroup. Magically, the printer begins working, food starts getting out to people, and dinner service is a mild success. People seemed to love the new food when they finally got it.
The next day, Gordon chats with Dean and tells him he has to get over his fear of failure. Dean tells him to walk a mile in his shoes and then come talk to him. I have, replies Gordon. He tells Dean that he had a restaurant fail in his hometown, so he knows what it is to fail and it helped make him the success he is today. Dean realizes Gordon is right, and makes some changes in his attitude. A town celebration is held to commemorate the restaurant’s anniversary, and Dean is given a key to the city by the mayor. He’s overwhelmed. They even get a spot on the local news, bringing in more customers. Looks like this one’s a success!
Next week: Gordon takes his show to the West coast, landing at Sebastian’s in Burbank, California, where the staff is more interested in getting a shot at acting than in waiting tables, the menu stinks, and the owner doesn’t have a clue. See you then!