Kitchen Nightmares purports to be fixing "America’s" worst restaurants. In the first episode Gordon Ramsay was on Long Island, the next episode he was in Manhattan, and now he is back on Long Island. (and the promo at the end of the show puts him back on Long Island next week). That implies some really bad things about the tri-state area and I’m uncomfortable with that notion. But, I digress, time for tonight’s show.

In Bellmore, NY lies The Mixing Bowl, a pleasant-enough looking restaurant owned by Bill, managed by Mike, and hated by Lisa, Bill’s wife. Upon arrival, one of the first things Gordon did at the restaurant was to ask Mike about the type of cuisine the place serves. Finding out that it is a relatively "healthy" menu, Mike used the term "’new’ American," Gordon starts to make fun of Mike’s weight (he is overweight, but not grotesquely, and the comment seems overly harsh).

No one seems to come to The Mixing Bowl anymore and poor Mike, he has tried coupons and signs and all manner of enticements to get people to come to the restaurant, and Gordon thoroughly mocked him for all of them. Mike may not have been the most competent of mangers, but for my money the real problem tonight was Bill’s wife, Lisa. Every single Lisa clip shown in the first twenty-five minutes of the show featured her saying that the restaurant ought to close; the restaurant needs to close; and given the choice, how she would close it that night. Bill was a complete non-entity and Mike may have been wretchedly bad at his job, but Lisa was poisoning the entire atmosphere.

Gordon actually suggested to Bill and Lisa on his first night there, allegedly in order to test their commitment to the restaurant, that maybe they should just close the restaurant right then. Lisa hesitatingly suggested that if they need to close the restaurant they should just do it. Bill opted to keep the restaurant going and Lisa, hugely disheartened, sighed and slumped down into her chair. That’s exactly the kind of person I want supporting me when I try to live my dream. Don’t we all just want a wonderful person behind us that sighs and moans and groans and bellyaches when we try to put food on the table, pay the rent, and make the money to do those things in a way we want?

After Gordon changed the décor and made the menu truly healthy, he invited the New York Dragons, an arena football team, to come to the grand relaunch. It seemed like an odd choice, not as odd as Mike not being able to take reservations correctly for the relaunch and seriously overbooking the place, but an odd choice nonetheless. My money was still on Lisa for being the biggest troublemaker here, but by this point in the show Mike was closing in. He even tried to blame a waitress for the reservation mix-ups, but no one bought the excuse. He also forgot to put the New York Dragons on the reservations list which seems like an egregious error.

Of course, by the end of the episode everything is hunky-dory. The restaurant is once again a huge success, Mike is great at his job, and everyone loves each other. For some reason I just don’t buy it.

Have you noticed that all three episodes that have aired of Kitchen Nightmares pace the blame for problems at the restaurants squarely on the shoulders of the managers? This is actually the second episode in a row where Gordon Ramsay suggested to the owner that a manager be fired. Is that really the biggest problem at these restaurants? Mike didn’t get fired, and seemed to improve in later clips, but the lingering effect of Gordon’s suggestion remains.

Also, tonight’s episode didn’t follow the usual formula. There was no fantastic set of scenes where Gordon looked at the dining room, kitchen, and storerooms and was disgusted with the filth, mold, fungus, and vermin. I love those scenes. I think those are the single best part of the show. It’s great for The Mixing Bowl that those scenes weren’t necessary, but I missed them. There’s just something about a dozen cockroaches scattering from a rotten tomato when the lights come on in a kitchen that makes me smile.

Beyond that, did anyone out there actually care that the New York Dragons came to the restaurant? Is this a draw to watch the show? If you’re not a big AFL fan (and maybe even if you are), would it matter to you?

I just don’t think that tonight’s episode really represented a "kitchen nightmare." It felt like a complete non-episode in fact. The Mixing Bowl was just sort of sinking into oblivion, it wasn’t dangerous or vile or disgusting, it was just a dying place. It may have had a nice run, but it was over. Can’t a restaurant just die without there being a "nightmare" behind it? Did the whole episode make you feel as though the producers may have already run out of places to be fixed?

Lastly, did you notice that tonight on the show the producers went back two months later as I suggested they do in my first recap. I like to think that’s my doing. Why don’t you come and see what else I do over at The TV and Film Guy’s Reviews.

Posted by:Josh Lasser