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"Kitchen Nightmares" at Cafe 36, La Grange

"Kitchen Nightmares" at Cafe 36, La Grange
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  • "Kitchen Nightmares" at Cafe 36, La Grange

    Post #1 - February 27th, 2008, 11:29 pm
    Post #1 - February 27th, 2008, 11:29 pm Post #1 - February 27th, 2008, 11:29 pm
    I just got back from a taping of Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares" at Cafe 36 in La Grange.

    To answer the two most important questions: no, chef Ramsay was not on site tonight, and, unfortunately, we were there with the "before" crowd - as in "before" the magic make-over takes place. Not to put too fine a point on it, this place needs the help.

    My girlfriend played it safe: onion soup to start followed by wild mushroom ravioli. (She wisely thought about all those episodes of "Kitchen Nightmares" that reveal spoiled meats and frozen seafood.) Keep in mind that the restaurant was maybe 1/3 full, but the soup sat in the pick-up window for long enough to cool down to "a little warm." It was homemade and flavorful, though, which was encouraging. Her ravioli were average - not bad, not great. The sauce was bland, and the pasta had all the excitement of something from a freezer bag.

    I cast caution to the wind and ordered grilled calamari to start. They were cooked, sure, but lacked any grill marks or seasoning or, um... flavor! They were served over potatoes which kind of soaked up a garlicky dressing and were really better than the calamari itself. For some reason there were sliced celery pieces as part of the sauce. I still don't understand why.

    My main course was the cobia special, enthusiastically recommended by our waiter. What came out was a little fishy (perhaps beyond the naturally higher oil content of that breed). The vegetables underneath were a disaster of overcooked, limp, brownish-looking haricots verts, snowpeas, cabbage, carrots, etc. There was a quasi-Asian sauce with soy and (giant) chunks of ginger which just sort of formed a watery brown pool on the bottom of the plate. I developed a headache about midway through this course.

    We ended with coffee and split the "signature" banana & chocolate bread pudding. It was enough the get the previously questionable flavors out of my mouth but ultimately forgettable.

    For all the underwhelming food, our bill was $94, and I immediately thought of a dozen restaurants where that same money could have bought a really great meal. The problem with this place is that it's not special enough to be event dining, but they desperately want to give that impression. The hamburgers coming out of the kitchen looked really good, and I have a feeling this will be something Ramsay latches onto.

    I'll go back in a few weeks after Gordon Ramsay has had his way with the place. I'm sure it will be vastly improved, and I'm certain he'll encourage some different pricing for a restaurant out in a small town away from downtown Chicago. There's really no need for folks in the city at this point to make the trip out there.

    A side note - the camera crews were much busier with the tables around us where people were still waiting up to an hour for their main courses. Because of this (and, again, it was a slow night), we likely won't have too much camera time. Speaking of cameras, I'll dispel any notion that the patrons are prompted in any way by the producers. The only notes we were given before entering the restaurant were to not look into the cameras and to talk about the dining experience when the cameras were near. Other than that, there were no loaded questions, no set-ups, no prodding, etc. What you'll see in the finished show is as real as can be.

    Cafe 36
    22 Calendar Ct
    La Grange, IL
  • Post #2 - February 28th, 2008, 12:06 am
    Post #2 - February 28th, 2008, 12:06 am Post #2 - February 28th, 2008, 12:06 am
    HI,

    Thanks for a behind-the-scenes patron's view of this endeavor. I happen to enjoy watching Kitchen Nightmares very much. I even like the formula:

    1) Chef Ramsey meets the staff, then sits down to lunch.

    2) He observes the kitchen in action and the dinner service. If he observes an issue, then he may close down the restaurant. (At least you didn't have a shutdown, which would have been quite a sideshow in itself.)

    3) He inspects the kitchen often finding some serious sanitation issues. Of course the most disgusting, moldy food always seems to be a component of his lunch. He is furious he could have taken ill or died from their food.

    4) Sit down with the staff and owners to give his birdseye view of their poor performance.

    5) Restaurant closes while being retooled.

    6) Everything begins with a good scrub of the kitchen. He then analyzes the restaurant's market position, reviews the menu's responsiveness to market realities and deals with staff relations. Often the restaurant redirects its target audience, menu overhauled to reflect new strategy and overhauls the decor to reflect the fresh approach.

    7) First meal service is pretty harried. If the restaurant was operating at half-steam before, the kitchen and front of the house staff isn't used to being very busy. Whatever staff kinks haven't been worked out, then they become very apparent. The post meal review of this first service can be quite confrontational because a lot of energy and emotion was riding on it.

    8) Once staff culture issues are resolved and restaurant is starting to get back on track. A vibrant publicity opportunity is cooked up: this may be a parade or inviting local celebrities to dine. They may also sponsor a public event like a 5K run with the restaurant front and center.

    9) (Like a 60's sci-fi show) The fate of the restaurant is returned to the owners and staff. Everyone thanks the Chef for his efforts, which was really hard won praise.

    10) An update sometime in the future to see how the restaurant has progressed. One smart family used this turnaround to sell their restaurant.

    Did I tell you I like this show?

    I am quite pea green you got this wonderful opportunity to see this show close-up.

    Thanks again for sharing this experience.

    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 #3 - February 28th, 2008, 6:33 am
    Post #3 - February 28th, 2008, 6:33 am Post #3 - February 28th, 2008, 6:33 am
    "Thank god for that" I watch the BBC version so much I here Chef Ramsey in my ear everytime I slack off at my own job. It's good to here that you were not coached, the American show seems a little overproduced compared to the British version. I still love it anyway. Cheers
  • Post #4 - February 28th, 2008, 8:15 am
    Post #4 - February 28th, 2008, 8:15 am Post #4 - February 28th, 2008, 8:15 am
    Cathy2 wrote:10) An update sometime in the future to see how the restaurant has progressed. One smart family used this turnaround to sell their restaurant.


    I think that a lot of operators just don't realize the time and effort it taked to run a girst rate restaurant. When they have seen what G. Ramsey demands to get the restaurant back on track, they realize that they are not willing to make that commitment.
  • Post #5 - February 28th, 2008, 8:18 am
    Post #5 - February 28th, 2008, 8:18 am Post #5 - February 28th, 2008, 8:18 am
    Chef Ramsey rocks! Just started watching the BBC edition of it after getting hooked on the American run of the show last season
  • Post #6 - February 28th, 2008, 10:48 am
    Post #6 - February 28th, 2008, 10:48 am Post #6 - February 28th, 2008, 10:48 am
    Head's Red BBQ wrote:Chef Ramsey rocks! Just started watching the BBC edition of it after getting hooked on the American run of the show last season


    Thanks for the tip. I never knew about the BBC shows. It's on Comcast channel 162 (BBC) at 5PM today! Looks like it is on every Tuesday and Thursday.
    "Good stuff, Maynard." Dobie Gillis
  • Post #7 - February 28th, 2008, 10:58 am
    Post #7 - February 28th, 2008, 10:58 am Post #7 - February 28th, 2008, 10:58 am
    Hi,

    I found only one mention about Cafe 36.

    There's also Cafe 36, which is a little more upscale, but I also like their food a lot better, too.
    ...

    Cafe 36
    22 Calendar Court, LaGrange, IL
    708-354-5722


    If anyone has been there before this event, what was it like?

    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 #8 - February 28th, 2008, 11:31 am
    Post #8 - February 28th, 2008, 11:31 am Post #8 - February 28th, 2008, 11:31 am
    imsscott wrote:
    Head's Red BBQ wrote:Chef Ramsey rocks! Just started watching the BBC edition of it after getting hooked on the American run of the show last season


    Thanks for the tip. I never knew about the BBC shows. It's on Comcast channel 162 (BBC) at 5PM today! Looks like it is on every Tuesday and Thursday.


    Oh dear lord, really? The BBC original series is where Ramsay redeems himself. Unfortunate that his American TV persona casts such a huge shadow.

    edited: I'm a huge fan of the BBC program...so am nonplussed that his raging idiot US interpretation is the one that's popular...
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #9 - February 28th, 2008, 11:38 am
    Post #9 - February 28th, 2008, 11:38 am Post #9 - February 28th, 2008, 11:38 am
    One thing I should have mentioned (and I'm sure this will play into the "Kitchen Nightmares" narrative) is that Cafe 36 has been under new management for a year, maybe less. In old reviews I read, people raved about chef Reinhardt who, apparently, is no longer there.

    Again, the whole operation feels like the _impression_ of fine dining with no one really quite getting it right. It being the only game in town, though, it seems like it's been coasting for a long time. We heard a happy couple leaving last night and exclaiming to the host/owner(?), "everything was WONDERFUL as usual!" It just seemed an out of place comment given our experience, but it may have some special memory for those particular people.

    I'll be most interested to see chef Ramsay's assessment of the neighborhood and how this place fits into the culinary landscape. We saw a lot of pubs, tacquerias, fast food, and a couple of upscale places on the same street. This morning I'm still thinking, "I should have had the burger..."
  • Post #10 - February 28th, 2008, 11:59 am
    Post #10 - February 28th, 2008, 11:59 am Post #10 - February 28th, 2008, 11:59 am
    Having grown up in La Grange, this place was when it first opened, a destination spot for dining. It was one of the first restaurants to bring upscale to the area (in the early 90s). The restaurant has changed hands a few times, going from Chef Reinhardt to his son, and back again. The last time I was there was about a year and a half ago and I haven't been back since. Much of what the OP talks about was happening: bland food, off service, etc. Prior to that the menu was heavy on game and excellent sauces to complement the entrees. I'll be very interested to see what happens.

    Katy
  • Post #11 - February 28th, 2008, 12:41 pm
    Post #11 - February 28th, 2008, 12:41 pm Post #11 - February 28th, 2008, 12:41 pm
    As Grrrr would say, "Oh dear ....". I bet he orders the calamari. Or crab cakes if they have them. Those are his favorite things to pick on !

    That said, the FOX version is completely wretched compared to the BBC original. I'm sure they will cook up a villain and overplay it ad infinitum.
  • Post #12 - February 28th, 2008, 1:06 pm
    Post #12 - February 28th, 2008, 1:06 pm Post #12 - February 28th, 2008, 1:06 pm
    personally i like both editions..the US version is what it is but its still entertaining
  • Post #13 - February 28th, 2008, 1:08 pm
    Post #13 - February 28th, 2008, 1:08 pm Post #13 - February 28th, 2008, 1:08 pm
    imsscott wrote:
    Head's Red BBQ wrote:Chef Ramsey rocks! Just started watching the BBC edition of it after getting hooked on the American run of the show last season


    Thanks for the tip. I never knew about the BBC shows. It's on Comcast channel 162 (BBC) at 5PM today! Looks like it is on every Tuesday and Thursday.

    keep in mind although the format of the show is the same..its not as in your face as the American one..Ramsey still gets in faces when needed though
  • Post #14 - February 28th, 2008, 1:29 pm
    Post #14 - February 28th, 2008, 1:29 pm Post #14 - February 28th, 2008, 1:29 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:I even like the formula:

    1) Chef Ramsey meets the staff, then sits down to lunch.

    2) He observes the kitchen in action and the dinner service. If he observes an issue, then he may close down the restaurant. (At least you didn't have a shutdown, which would have been quite a sideshow in itself.)

    3) He inspects the kitchen often finding some serious sanitation issues. Of course the most disgusting, moldy food always seems to be a component of his lunch. He is furious he could have taken ill or died from their food.

    4) Sit down with the staff and owners to give his birdseye view of their poor performance.

    5) Restaurant closes while being retooled.

    6) Everything begins with a good scrub of the kitchen. He then analyzes the restaurant's market position, reviews the menu's responsiveness to market realities and deals with staff relations. Often the restaurant redirects its target audience, menu overhauled to reflect new strategy and overhauls the decor to reflect the fresh approach.

    7) First meal service is pretty harried. If the restaurant was operating at half-steam before, the kitchen and front of the house staff isn't used to being very busy. Whatever staff kinks haven't been worked out, then they become very apparent. The post meal review of this first service can be quite confrontational because a lot of energy and emotion was riding on it.

    8) Once staff culture issues are resolved and restaurant is starting to get back on track. A vibrant publicity opportunity is cooked up: this may be a parade or inviting local celebrities to dine. They may also sponsor a public event like a 5K run with the restaurant front and center.

    9) (Like a 60's sci-fi show) The fate of the restaurant is returned to the owners and staff. Everyone thanks the Chef for his efforts, which was really hard won praise.

    10) An update sometime in the future to see how the restaurant has progressed. One smart family used this turnaround to sell their restaurant.



    I like the show, too. I had no idea they were in LaGrange. Cathy2's recitation of the formula for this program seems to be fairly accurate. However, I might add the following after point no. 2 (point 2(a), perhaps):

    2(a) One member of the staff -- generally the manager, an owner, or even the chef himself -- is villianized and becomes the primary target of much of Chef Ramsey's verbal abuse and humiliation (occasionally bordering on physical confrontation). This individual is embroiled in a tense, heated ongoing confrontation with Chef Ramsey throughout much of the episode. However, in the end, this person (typically) realizes the error of his or her ways, repents, and everyone is happy.

    This formula seems pretty predictable from episode to episode -- but it remains entertaining (I really am a fan of the show).

    As for Cafe 36, I had always heard pretty good things about it. I believe it received a fairly nice write-up from Phil Vettel a few years back. Sounds like there have been some ups and downs, though.
  • Post #15 - February 28th, 2008, 2:07 pm
    Post #15 - February 28th, 2008, 2:07 pm Post #15 - February 28th, 2008, 2:07 pm
    KagaTakeshi wrote: We heard a happy couple leaving last night and exclaiming to the host/owner(?), "everything was WONDERFUL as usual!" It just seemed an out of place comment given our experience, but it may have some special memory for those particular people.


    Keep in mind its location...nothing against the fine people of La Grange, but it is not really a Mecca of fine dining. If someone's typical idea of 'fine dining' is Olive Garden, then just about anything even remotely upscale is going to be incredible to them.
  • Post #16 - February 28th, 2008, 2:24 pm
    Post #16 - February 28th, 2008, 2:24 pm Post #16 - February 28th, 2008, 2:24 pm
    roninhobbit wrote:Keep in mind its location...nothing against the fine people of La Grange, but it is not really a Mecca of fine dining. If someone's typical idea of 'fine dining' is Olive Garden, then just about anything even remotely upscale is going to be incredible to them.


    Actually, I'd venture to say the LaGrange/Western Springs area (not to mention Hinsdale/Oak Brook) has some pretty sophisticated diners and upscale dining, including Vie. The Olive Garden comment seems a little misplaced.
  • Post #17 - February 28th, 2008, 3:00 pm
    Post #17 - February 28th, 2008, 3:00 pm Post #17 - February 28th, 2008, 3:00 pm
    Ron A. wrote:Actually, I'd venture to say the LaGrange/Western Springs area (not to mention Hinsdale/Oak Brook) has some pretty sophisticated diners and upscale dining, including Vie. The Olive Garden comment seems a little misplaced.


    Don't get me wrong, It wasn't intended as 'there is no fine dining in that area'. Obviously that particular restaurant isn't quite up to snuff, not only from the OP's comments, but also the fact that, well, they are doing Kitchen Nightmares there. So for that couple to say it is 'wonderful as always' suggests they haven't been exposed to much in the way of upscale dining. Or, perhaps they are masochists.
    There are fine restaurants in that area, yes. I was merely suggesting that there isn't MANY of them.

    I mention Olive Garden solely because I know many people that consider that 'fine dining'.
  • Post #18 - February 28th, 2008, 3:08 pm
    Post #18 - February 28th, 2008, 3:08 pm Post #18 - February 28th, 2008, 3:08 pm
    roninhobbit wrote:I mention Olive Garden solely because I know many people that consider that 'fine dining'.


    It's true - they're out there. Fine people, but just don't let them take you to dinner.
  • Post #19 - February 28th, 2008, 3:45 pm
    Post #19 - February 28th, 2008, 3:45 pm Post #19 - February 28th, 2008, 3:45 pm
    KagaTakeshi wrote:
    roninhobbit wrote:I mention Olive Garden solely because I know many people that consider that 'fine dining'.


    It's true - they're out there. Fine people, but just don't let them take you to dinner.


    Please, lets not go down this road - I live in Clarendon Hills and I don't know anyone who would even remotely think that Olive Garden is "fine dining."
  • Post #20 - February 28th, 2008, 3:48 pm
    Post #20 - February 28th, 2008, 3:48 pm Post #20 - February 28th, 2008, 3:48 pm
    roninhobbit wrote:Obviously that particular restaurant isn't quite up to snuff, not only from the OP's comments, but also the fact that, well, they are doing Kitchen Nightmares there. So for that couple to say it is 'wonderful as always' suggests they haven't been exposed to much in the way of upscale dining. Or, perhaps they are masochists.


    Or perhaps they enjoyed their meal there that evening and have had good experiences there in the past (irrespective of the fact that Gordon Ramsey is about to trash the place). I agree that the fact that the restaurant is on Kitchen Nightmares isn't a good sign, and the fact that these people like it doesn't necessarily reflect highly on their tastes. However, I was just a bit put off by your original post. I'm not trying to pick a fight, but your suggestion that there's nothing else near LaGrange and that the people who enjoyed their meal at Cafe 36 must be unsophisticated folks who consider the Olive Garden fine dining misses the mark, in my opinion.
  • Post #21 - February 28th, 2008, 4:28 pm
    Post #21 - February 28th, 2008, 4:28 pm Post #21 - February 28th, 2008, 4:28 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:HI,

    Thanks for a behind-the-scenes patron's view of this endeavor. I happen to enjoy watching Kitchen Nightmares very much. I even like the formula:

    1) Chef Ramsey meets the staff, then sits down to lunch.

    2) He observes the kitchen in action and the dinner service. If he observes an issue, then he may close down the restaurant. (At least you didn't have a shutdown, which would have been quite a sideshow in itself.)

    3) He inspects the kitchen often finding some serious sanitation issues. Of course the most disgusting, moldy food always seems to be a component of his lunch. He is furious he could have taken ill or died from their food.

    4) Sit down with the staff and owners to give his birdseye view of their poor performance.

    5) Restaurant closes while being retooled.

    6) Everything begins with a good scrub of the kitchen. He then analyzes the restaurant's market position, reviews the menu's responsiveness to market realities and deals with staff relations. Often the restaurant redirects its target audience, menu overhauled to reflect new strategy and overhauls the decor to reflect the fresh approach.

    7) First meal service is pretty harried. If the restaurant was operating at half-steam before, the kitchen and front of the house staff isn't used to being very busy. Whatever staff kinks haven't been worked out, then they become very apparent. The post meal review of this first service can be quite confrontational because a lot of energy and emotion was riding on it.

    8) Once staff culture issues are resolved and restaurant is starting to get back on track. A vibrant publicity opportunity is cooked up: this may be a parade or inviting local celebrities to dine. They may also sponsor a public event like a 5K run with the restaurant front and center.

    9) (Like a 60's sci-fi show) The fate of the restaurant is returned to the owners and staff. Everyone thanks the Chef for his efforts, which was really hard won praise.

    10) An update sometime in the future to see how the restaurant has progressed. One smart family used this turnaround to sell their restaurant.


    Cathy, you left out one step (at least, one that's featured in all of the British episodes I've watched):

    2a) He goes into the staff room, takes off his street clothes (including an obligatory shot of his bare chest), and changes into his chef's jacket.

    At the risk of sounding like a schoolgirl with a crush, my perception of him completely changed--from yelling, swearing @**hole to good-looking, sexy chef--after watching Kitchen Nightmares. Yes, I'll admit, I'm just a little smitten.
  • Post #22 - February 28th, 2008, 5:49 pm
    Post #22 - February 28th, 2008, 5:49 pm Post #22 - February 28th, 2008, 5:49 pm
    I think Chef Ramsay is (to use an English term) Brilliant ! ! I have downloaded every episode from the UK version and most of the US episodes. It’s funny to hear people’s opinions of Ramsay because all they have seen him in is Hell's Kitchen. I work in the basement, pardon me, lower level of a credit union up in Gurnee and we have a TV in the break room. Every day at 5:00 I turn on Kitchen Nightmares and hide the remote so the channel cant be changed. I wish he'd open up a place here in the Chicagoland area.
    The most dangerous food to eat is wedding cake.
    Proverb
  • Post #23 - February 28th, 2008, 6:11 pm
    Post #23 - February 28th, 2008, 6:11 pm Post #23 - February 28th, 2008, 6:11 pm
    I too enjoy the admittedly formulaic Kitchen Nightmares and have been looking forward to seeing where Chef Ramsey was going to land around here. The excreble "Hell's Kitchen" should be wiped off the map, however. What a horrendous, pointless program.

    Looks like we have our first location answered - thanks for posting about your experience. You're going to have to let us know who to look for when this finally airs!

    Also, we should all be on heightened Ramsey-watch. Synchronize your watches, agents - he could be anywhere.
    Writing about craft beer at GuysDrinkingBeer.com
    "You don't realize it, but we're at dinner right now." ~Ebert
  • Post #24 - February 28th, 2008, 9:54 pm
    Post #24 - February 28th, 2008, 9:54 pm Post #24 - February 28th, 2008, 9:54 pm
    whiskeybent wrote:Looks like we have our first location answered - thanks for posting about your experience. You're going to have to let us know who to look for when this finally airs!

    Also, we should all be on heightened Ramsey-watch. Synchronize your watches, agents - he could be anywhere.


    I certainly will! Maybe I'll post a picture or something, and you'll see us in there somewhere when it airs.

    Sorry to report, but the casting director said this was the only stop in Chicago. They're off to Michigan (I think) next, and then back to L.A. She admitted that Cafe 36 was a good candidate restaurant after we told her of our dining experience. :wink:
  • Post #25 - February 28th, 2008, 10:41 pm
    Post #25 - February 28th, 2008, 10:41 pm Post #25 - February 28th, 2008, 10:41 pm
    Hi,

    I don't have cable at home, thus I haven't seen the British version. I will make an effort to do so soon.

    Hell's Kitchen is awful, though I cannot get enough of Kitchen Nightmares.

    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 #26 - February 29th, 2008, 12:25 am
    Post #26 - February 29th, 2008, 12:25 am Post #26 - February 29th, 2008, 12:25 am
    I've lurked off and on for awhile but after my experience tonight - I decided to finally join and give you the low-down.
    I live in LaGrange and have been to Cafe 36 previous to Kitchen Nightmares. Years ago this place was decent - upscale and a dining experience. A couple of weeks ago I went and it was boring, bland and the place was empty. I was invited tonight to a seating with Chef Ramsey there. It was a joke. Our whole table felt like it was a scam. We saw Ramsey walking around a lot doing a whole bunch of nothing. Our order for our appetizer was taken a half an hour after we were seated. Then we had to ask when it might be coming out. We waited 45 minutes for the appetizer. When the appetizer was served, the plates were warm but the food was so so. The crabcakes were awful. I could've opened up canned crab and made better. The risotto was different - and I think that is a compliment but I'm not sure. The chicken in the risotto was way overcooked. At the time the appetizers were served, we still had menus on the table and had not placed an order for our main meal. When we finally placed the order for our main meal (one hour and fifteen minutes after arrival) we were told what they were out of. First of all, the restaurant was only half full and we were the first seating - how could they be out of anything? It was a Thursday night for god's sake. After an more than an hour of our experience we placed our order for the main meal. We waited over an hour and a half for our salad. Keep in mind, the Chef was there, mulling about and the place was only half full. The Chef would stop and talk to people (whom I noticed happened to be on the board of the LaGrange Business Association) or others who were friends of the owners. Kindof not a real experience I guess - who's going to throw their friend under the bus? Meanwhile we waited and waited. We would flag our very kind waiter over and he would say - I'm trying to get it out. We even flagged over the owner who said it would be out in 10 minutes. One hour and a half hour later we were still waiting. Finally, our salad arrived. I ordered the warm goat cheese salad. Well, I think they meant the goat cheese to be warm but instead that was cold but the lettuce was warm. My friend ordered the Blue Cheese Wedge and after cutting into it, it was all brown and spotty. Something I would never ingest and was promptly sent back. They did return a new salad in minutes. Funny how we waited over 90 minutes for a salad but when she sent it back they could get a new one out in minutes. At this point we started to joke about our dinner. The cameras were around but never really near or on us. The Chef was around again but focusing on the owners friends. After our salads were finished we began the long wait for the dinner. After another hour and a half waiting for dinner it finally arrived while we were getting ready to put on our coats. At this point, we realized Chef Ramsey left. I guess he didn't want to wait either. Our food came and it was not worth the money at all. I ordered the Cafe 36 Veal Medallions. The meat was okay but the spaetzel was disgusting. One of the patrons with us had to send his food back because of the extra large hair in his food. Another patron sent back her scallops because they were raw. All in all the food was bland, flavorless and disappointing. The wait was a joke. But, to top it all off, as we sat in the restaurant, enjoying our coffee at the end of a tasteless extremely long meal, we actually had a staff of Chef Ramsey come up to us and ask us to leave. Yes, she asked us to leave. After wasting 3 hours in this place, with awful food, paying $70.00 per person for an awful meal with no flavor and a bonus hair, we were asked to leave because she wanted to go home. Our drinks/coffee was not done. Our waiter apologized up and down but Chef Ramsey's staff wanted us to leave. I live in this neighborhood, and I will tell you this, I will never step foot into this establishment again. I don't care what anyone does to it, I will never give them my money again. Here's a couple of key things I failed to input. The waiters make their own drinks. There is no bartender. If you know the owners, you get better service. No plates match nor compliment each other. Everyone attending the seating was not seated all at once so its not like the kitchen was overwhelmed. Chef Ramsey did walk around a little bit but he only stopped at what seemed like pre-determined tables. I love how he left before service was even done. How could tables be waiting over an hour for food and Chef Ramsey leaves?
    Honestly I won't be going back to this establishment because I feel this was a last ditch effort by the owners to drum up some business. Chef Ramsey isn't going to change anything major. It will still be a store front restaurant that charges way too much money for mediocre food and waiters who have to bartend their own tables. I would've written this regardless, but I'm still so shocked that someone from the show's staff had the gall to ask us to leave. The staff was all still there, we waited hours for our food, they couldn't wait another 15 minutes for us to finish our coffee? Just pathetic.
  • Post #27 - February 29th, 2008, 12:37 am
    Post #27 - February 29th, 2008, 12:37 am Post #27 - February 29th, 2008, 12:37 am
    ah...

    ...what?
  • Post #28 - February 29th, 2008, 8:51 am
    Post #28 - February 29th, 2008, 8:51 am Post #28 - February 29th, 2008, 8:51 am
    ^ Momof5, I just cannot imagine that you would have had such an absolutely horrible experience if you'd walked in on a random Thursday night before they started filming the show.

    I hate to be a skeptic -- I do like the Kitchen Nightmares show, and I'm not saying it's an absolute hoax -- but based on this I'm starting to think that part of the "formula" for this show is to somehow sabotage the restaurant or set the place up with the cameras rolling. No restaurant that's been in operation for a number of years can actually be that awful (at least I find it hard to believe that this could be the case).
  • Post #29 - February 29th, 2008, 8:55 am
    Post #29 - February 29th, 2008, 8:55 am Post #29 - February 29th, 2008, 8:55 am
    Momof5,

    I think you are not familiar with the show. What you witnessed last night was:

    2) He observes the kitchen in action and the dinner service. If he observes an issue, then he may close down the restaurant. (At least you didn't have a shutdown, which would have been quite a sideshow in itself.)


    It will be interesting later to see how this episode played out. It could also be you were asked to leave because Chef Ramsey upon discovering a health violation declared it closed. Of course, it may be the production staff was making the request.

    Now we are into steps:

    3) He inspects the kitchen often finding some serious sanitation issues. Of course the most disgusting, moldy food always seems to be a component of his lunch. He is furious he could have taken ill or died from their food.

    4) Sit down with the staff and owners to give his birdseye view of their poor performance.


    Since you live nearby, you could keep an eye on what is happening and fill us in. It could be like watching paint dry or quite interesting. IF you have a digital camera, perhaps take a picture of what it looks like today. I suspect it will look different in fairly short order.

    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 #30 - February 29th, 2008, 9:15 am
    Post #30 - February 29th, 2008, 9:15 am Post #30 - February 29th, 2008, 9:15 am
    As with anything that gets to a certain level of success, it’s bound to get too “Commercial”. With all of the shows and restaurants Ramsay has, I’m sure he’s spread pretty thin making it impossible to put the real effort into making something good. As I’ve said in another post, the UK version of the program is FAR better than the US version as it has far more soul. Plus, when you see something on TV, there is certain glamour to it. When you see the same thing in production, in person, it’s bound to change your perspective.
    The most dangerous food to eat is wedding cake.
    Proverb

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