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"Kitchen Nightmares" at Cafe 36, La Grange

"Kitchen Nightmares" at Cafe 36, La Grange
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  • Post #91 - January 15th, 2009, 2:28 pm
    Post #91 - January 15th, 2009, 2:28 pm Post #91 - January 15th, 2009, 2:28 pm
    LOL! Doesn't that pretty much describe every episode of Kitchen Nightmares?


    Only if it continues with "Gordon Ramsay recommends a simplified menu of locally-sourced, unpretentious pub food."
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  • Post #92 - January 15th, 2009, 9:25 pm
    Post #92 - January 15th, 2009, 9:25 pm Post #92 - January 15th, 2009, 9:25 pm
    I'm watching it now and it's not as bad as most episodes. Sure the food isn't fresh but there's no major sanitation laws being broken. The biggest problem with Cafe 36 seems to be the owners with no urge to manage and a Chef that clearly isn't a Chef.
    GOOD TIMES!
  • Post #93 - January 15th, 2009, 11:30 pm
    Post #93 - January 15th, 2009, 11:30 pm Post #93 - January 15th, 2009, 11:30 pm
    While I enjoying watching KN, it must be said that Gordon's vision of the "good" restaurant seems to be stuck back in '96...
  • Post #94 - January 16th, 2009, 12:51 am
    Post #94 - January 16th, 2009, 12:51 am Post #94 - January 16th, 2009, 12:51 am
    jannamae008 wrote:does anyone have any "after" experiences? I had heard that the owners chose not to follow through with the Gordon suggestions - and haven't been brave enough to try it out. I know back in the day, it had a reputation for great food, but the last time I was there, it was very disappointing. Some acquaintances went there about a month ago, but said after 20 minutes of sitting and not being approached, they went across the street to La Pinta.


    Here is a link to the local FOX News follow-up on the restaurant.

    http://tinypic.com/player.php?v=33k7wyh&s=5
  • Post #95 - January 16th, 2009, 9:55 am
    Post #95 - January 16th, 2009, 9:55 am Post #95 - January 16th, 2009, 9:55 am
    Since clearly those of you posting on regarding Cafe 36 have never been there, why don't you go. The owners have implemented the suggested changes by Chef Ramsey, and they also have a new chef, and it is not Barney as was stated at the end of the show. The food is wonderful, and so is the experience.
  • Post #96 - January 16th, 2009, 10:05 am
    Post #96 - January 16th, 2009, 10:05 am Post #96 - January 16th, 2009, 10:05 am
    daisi16161 wrote:Since clearly those of you posting on regarding Cafe 36 have never been there, why don't you go. The owners have implemented the suggested changes by Chef Ramsey, and they also have a new chef, and it is not Barney as was stated at the end of the show. The food is wonderful, and so is the experience.


    daisi-

    Thanks for the feedback and welcome to LTH. Could you share with us some details of your favorite dishes there?

    -Mary
    -Mary
  • Post #97 - January 16th, 2009, 10:07 am
    Post #97 - January 16th, 2009, 10:07 am Post #97 - January 16th, 2009, 10:07 am
    daisi16161 wrote:why don't you go.


    1. It's too expensive ($24 for a piece of grilled salmon. $25 for a cheap cut of braised lamb)
    2. They have something called Oriental Chicken Salad on the menu.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #98 - January 16th, 2009, 10:28 am
    Post #98 - January 16th, 2009, 10:28 am Post #98 - January 16th, 2009, 10:28 am
    I wish them well (by which I mean, I hope they mostly followed his advice and got things working in their place) but I'm eager to read something here precisely because I'm NOT going to shlep as far as LaGrange for anything less than this level of acclaim.
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  • Post #99 - January 16th, 2009, 11:03 am
    Post #99 - January 16th, 2009, 11:03 am Post #99 - January 16th, 2009, 11:03 am
    Heck, I live in La Grange and have little desire to go. The restaurant still looks very dated, and it is quite expensive.
  • Post #100 - January 16th, 2009, 1:49 pm
    Post #100 - January 16th, 2009, 1:49 pm Post #100 - January 16th, 2009, 1:49 pm
    Molly wrote:Heck, I live in La Grange and have little desire to go. The restaurant still looks very dated, and it is quite expensive.


    I just looked at the menu and I don't think the prices are that out of line for the type of restaurant they are trying to be. However, "trying" is the key word. I would like to know a little more about the dishes, and the menu doesn't offer any help.
    John Danza
  • Post #101 - January 16th, 2009, 1:54 pm
    Post #101 - January 16th, 2009, 1:54 pm Post #101 - January 16th, 2009, 1:54 pm
    John Danza wrote:
    Molly wrote:Heck, I live in La Grange and have little desire to go. The restaurant still looks very dated, and it is quite expensive.


    I just looked at the menu and I don't think the prices are that out of line for the type of restaurant they are trying to be. However, "trying" is the key word. I would like to know a little more about the dishes, and the menu doesn't offer any help.


    To me, any place with "Oriental Chicken Salad" on the menu isn't "trying" to be anything more sophisticated than Applebees or TGI Fridays. "Oriental Chicken Salad" plus entree prices in the mid-20's doesn't sound like a winning formula to me.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #102 - January 16th, 2009, 2:40 pm
    Post #102 - January 16th, 2009, 2:40 pm Post #102 - January 16th, 2009, 2:40 pm
    Kennyz wrote:To me, any place with "Oriental Chicken Salad" on the menu isn't "trying" to be anything more sophisticated than Applebees or TGI Fridays. "Oriental Chicken Salad" plus entree prices in the mid-20's doesn't sound like a winning formula to me.


    I hear what you're saying, but I found out a number of years ago that it's more complicated than that in the restaurant biz.

    I used to go to Thyme quite a bit and got to know John Bubala very well. I held several Wine & Food Society dinners there over the years. He used to love doing the dinners because he could do dishes that he typically wouldn't put on the menu. He told me that he had caesar salad on the menu because there's a large percentage of diners who want something like that on the menu. It helped keep those people coming in to keep the doors open. If it were up to him, he never would have had it on the menu. Sometimes you have to put "standard" stuff on the menu to fill the house.
    John Danza
  • Post #103 - January 17th, 2009, 3:32 pm
    Post #103 - January 17th, 2009, 3:32 pm Post #103 - January 17th, 2009, 3:32 pm
    I was given the Chef job. The new Chef was my Sous Chef. I didn't like the way things were headed at Café 36 I decided to go back to culinary school and complete my degree. Read a little bio of mine @ Suburban Life web page under Chef Barney a well traveled Chef.
  • Post #104 - January 17th, 2009, 6:18 pm
    Post #104 - January 17th, 2009, 6:18 pm Post #104 - January 17th, 2009, 6:18 pm
    My friend and his wife live in Indian Head Park, which is not too far from La Grange. They checked out Cafe 36 before the changes, said it was nothing special. They do want to give it another chance since Gordon was in there doing his thing and they're "give them a second chance" people. :)
  • Post #105 - January 17th, 2009, 7:34 pm
    Post #105 - January 17th, 2009, 7:34 pm Post #105 - January 17th, 2009, 7:34 pm
    ChefBarney77 wrote:I was given the Chef job. The new Chef was my Sous Chef. I didn't like the way things were headed at Café 36 I decided to go back to culinary school and complete my degree. Read a little bio of mine @ Suburban Life web page under Chef Barney a well traveled Chef.


    congrats and best of luck in your new role. Based on what was shown on TV you seem to have your head in a better place as far as the business than the last chef.
    Last edited by Head's Red BBQ on January 18th, 2009, 8:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
    First Place BBQ Sauce - 2010 NBBQA ( Natl BBQ Assoc) Awards of Excellence
  • Post #106 - January 17th, 2009, 10:51 pm
    Post #106 - January 17th, 2009, 10:51 pm Post #106 - January 17th, 2009, 10:51 pm
    HI,

    Any idea on where Pinto moved onto?

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #107 - January 17th, 2009, 11:28 pm
    Post #107 - January 17th, 2009, 11:28 pm Post #107 - January 17th, 2009, 11:28 pm
    The last I heard of Pinto he is a personal chef for a well to do family in the Chicago suburbs.
  • Post #108 - January 18th, 2009, 5:07 am
    Post #108 - January 18th, 2009, 5:07 am Post #108 - January 18th, 2009, 5:07 am
    ChefBarney77 wrote:The last I heard of Pinto he is a personal chef for a well to do family in the Chicago suburbs.


    Probably not after Thursday. :twisted:
    John Danza
  • Post #109 - January 18th, 2009, 8:01 am
    Post #109 - January 18th, 2009, 8:01 am Post #109 - January 18th, 2009, 8:01 am
    John Danza wrote:
    ChefBarney77 wrote:The last I heard of Pinto he is a personal chef for a well to do family in the Chicago suburbs.


    Probably not after Thursday. :twisted:

    hope they got a big enough freezer :twisted:
    First Place BBQ Sauce - 2010 NBBQA ( Natl BBQ Assoc) Awards of Excellence
  • Post #110 - January 18th, 2009, 10:16 am
    Post #110 - January 18th, 2009, 10:16 am Post #110 - January 18th, 2009, 10:16 am
    ChefBarney77 wrote:I was given the Chef job. The new Chef was my Sous Chef. I didn't like the way things were headed at Café 36 I decided to go back to culinary school and complete my degree. Read a little bio of mine @ Suburban Life web page under Chef Barney a well traveled Chef.


    Welcome to LTH Chef Barney and thanks for the updates!

    Please do keep us updated on your 'travels'.
    "Make Lunch, Not War" ~ Anon
  • Post #111 - January 18th, 2009, 12:59 pm
    Post #111 - January 18th, 2009, 12:59 pm Post #111 - January 18th, 2009, 12:59 pm
    I find it hard to believe people complain about the prices of this restaurant. Any upscale restaurant in the Chicagoland area will draw those kind of prices. If anyone feel these types of restaurants are charging to much, maybe they need to come downtown and see what those places are charging.
  • Post #112 - January 18th, 2009, 1:23 pm
    Post #112 - January 18th, 2009, 1:23 pm Post #112 - January 18th, 2009, 1:23 pm
    I find it hard to believe people complain about the prices of this restaurant. Any upscale restaurant in the Chicagoland area will draw those kind of prices. If anyone feel these types of restaurants are charging to much, maybe they need to come downtown and see what those places are charging


    As someone who made those allegations earlier in the thread, I feel compelled to respond. I lived in the West Loop for four years and Lakeview for seven prior to making the move to La Grange. I am well aware of typical restaurant prices throughout the Chicagoland area . I am more than happy to pay $20, $30, $40 and up for an entree. I'm just not going pay that at Cafe 36. I am unimpressed with their menu options and especially unimpressed with their ambiance. I will happily head to Sunflower Bistro or drive the five extra minutes to Vie if I want a local fine dining experience.
  • Post #113 - January 18th, 2009, 1:41 pm
    Post #113 - January 18th, 2009, 1:41 pm Post #113 - January 18th, 2009, 1:41 pm
    scott_c_mco wrote:I find it hard to believe people complain about the prices of this restaurant. Any upscale restaurant in the Chicagoland area will draw those kind of prices. If anyone feel these types of restaurants are charging to much, maybe they need to come downtown and see what those places are charging.


    That's not true! I go to the Applebees on Grand Avenue in Chicago all the time. Even in the big city, the awesome Oriental Chicken Salad at Applebees is only $8.99. Way cheaper (and better, I bet! It has perfect juicy white meat chicken with the grill marks!!!!) than the $12 Oriental Chicken Salad at your fancy schmancy place in the suburbs!!!! If I want my Oriental Chicken Salad fix, I'm not paying those crazy Cafe 36 prices!!! And I can get grilled salmon at Chili's for like 14 dollars. It's 24 at Cafe 36!!! Who are they kidding?????
    Last edited by Kennyz on January 18th, 2009, 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #114 - January 18th, 2009, 1:46 pm
    Post #114 - January 18th, 2009, 1:46 pm Post #114 - January 18th, 2009, 1:46 pm
    Continuing to keep this somewhat off-track, Prairie Grass Cafe has an Asian Chicken Salad on the brunch menu right now. I have no idea how it is because I was too busy enjoying their signature eggs benedict. Now back to Cafe 36...
    -Mary
  • Post #115 - January 18th, 2009, 1:53 pm
    Post #115 - January 18th, 2009, 1:53 pm Post #115 - January 18th, 2009, 1:53 pm
    I would like to straighten out something about the show. The narrator said I had a bad attitude he did'nt say I was the one that pointed out to Terry, Pinto's unethical culinary techniques for months and I wrote the e mail to Ramsay that started the whole thing rolling. Pinto called me a "diner cook" and made wise cracks about my wife (she's is Korean),so of course we did not get along. He didn't have recipes for anything and costantly changed the instructions on menu items which really caused problems with consistency. On the final night of the show I got all the orders out and was directing the flow of the kitchen I was cooking saut'ee, broiler, and helping Mario with salads appitizers and desserts. I am a team player and not known for a bad attitude. One more thing, I think Carol deserves an academy award for her performance.
    Last edited by ChefBarney77 on January 18th, 2009, 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #116 - January 18th, 2009, 1:55 pm
    Post #116 - January 18th, 2009, 1:55 pm Post #116 - January 18th, 2009, 1:55 pm
    The GP wrote:Continuing to keep this somewhat off-track, Prairie Grass Cafe has an Asian Chicken Salad on the brunch menu right now. I have no idea how it is because I was too busy enjoying their signature eggs benedict. Now back to Cafe 36...

    LOL! There's one person in my office (who shall remain nameless but he knows who he is!) who orders this dish and only this dish every single time we have lunch at PGC -- carry-out or dine-in. At dinners he will branch out a bit but he never varies his order at lunch. :D

    =R=
    I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

    Do you know the muffin man? --Max Beckmann

    Twitter: ronniesuburban
  • Post #117 - January 18th, 2009, 2:25 pm
    Post #117 - January 18th, 2009, 2:25 pm Post #117 - January 18th, 2009, 2:25 pm
    Hi,

    There was a tremendous sadness watching the owners go through their paces. They were clearly beyond their depths taking on this restaurant business and sacrificing mightily between using their retirement, selling their house and getting by on one car. Carol surprised me with her to the point summary, "We don't know our ass from a hole in the ground."

    This episode was filmed ten months ago, they are still in business. It is also a long, long time to wait for the burst of publicity once your show is aired. I cannot help but wonder how everything was going business-wise in those ensuing months. Clearly the business is functioning, I can only surmise those changes, and perhaps curiosity, did give them enough financial wind to manage to this time.

    Thanks for filling us in on what happened from your side. You did a very kind act by contacting Ramsay, because it offered clarity to their situation.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #118 - January 18th, 2009, 2:37 pm
    Post #118 - January 18th, 2009, 2:37 pm Post #118 - January 18th, 2009, 2:37 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:They were clearly beyond their depths taking on this restaurant business and sacrificing mightily between using their retirement, selling their house and getting by on one car. Carol surprised me with her to the point summary, "We don't know our ass from a hole in the ground."


    You really hit the nail on the head Cathy. I almost jumped out of my chair when they told Ramsey that they had paid $1.2 million for the business! That's probably two or three times what they should have paid from what I saw, unless it included the ownership of the building they were in. Even then, I'm still willing to bet they over paid by probably $300K - $400K. The only way that number would have been even remotely correct is if they bought the building they were in and their was a helluva wine inventory that came with the place.

    Speaking of wine, I thought Ramsey was very gratious when the couple tried to give him a bottle of 1976 Yquem. It's a great wine and sells for a minimum of $600 these days. With the way this couple was bleeding cash, it was nice that he left it with them.
    John Danza
  • Post #119 - January 18th, 2009, 3:39 pm
    Post #119 - January 18th, 2009, 3:39 pm Post #119 - January 18th, 2009, 3:39 pm
    Who are these people in our world who, with no experience, take their life's savings and invest in a business about which they know (next to) nothing? To every one of these people -- especially those who are thinking about entering the restaurant industry -- I'd advise reading Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential before even considering it. There's a lot of information in there that would hopefully illuminate such a decision before it's made. Just because one likes food and can cook, it doesn't mean they should open a restaurant.

    =R=
    I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

    Do you know the muffin man? --Max Beckmann

    Twitter: ronniesuburban
  • Post #120 - January 18th, 2009, 3:53 pm
    Post #120 - January 18th, 2009, 3:53 pm Post #120 - January 18th, 2009, 3:53 pm
    scott_c_mco wrote:I find it hard to believe people complain about the prices of this restaurant. Any upscale restaurant in the Chicagoland area will draw those kind of prices. If anyone feel these types of restaurants are charging to much, maybe they need to come downtown and see what those places are charging.


    Kiki's is cheaper across the board. So is La Sardine.

    Le Bouchon's salmon is $19 and so is Bistro 110's.

    Cafe Matou: $18.

    I could keep going.

    ...and at each one of those places, you get a better idea from the menu of what you're going to get on the plate.

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