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Feb 3, 2009 04:24 PM

No Reservations: Chicago

I thought this was an outstanding episode, by far the best of the new season. I liked that Tony mixed up the street food with the fine dinning and didn't hit the usual Chicago locales you see on food/travel shows.
It was also nice to see him surrounded by good beer for a change.

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  1. Odd mix of spots, though. Nice to see a little of the kitchen scene at L2O, but Hot Doug's yet again????

    3 Replies
    1. re: ferret

      Has Hot Doug's been featured a lot? That was the first time I'd seen it and I usually make a point to watch anything Chicago related.
      I am a little tired of the New York attitude towards deep dish; Rocco on Top Chef, Flay on Throwndown and now A.B.

      1. re: tofuburrito

        He said he liked it, but he wouldn't call it pizza, which it isn't. There are other food mutants as well, the chicken, shrimp, veggie fajitas, and chili with beans and all sorts of vegetables, really a stew, This isn't saying they are not delicious in there own right, just not true to the original dish.

        1. re: James Cristinian

          I don't know that anyone can lay claim to the rights of toppings on baked dough as their original dish.
          Also; I think Les Halles deserves more credit that it gets. I've only eaten there once but I had a memorable meal. I also find A.B.'s Les Halles cookbook very useful.
          He likes to make light of his abilities but I think he's a better chef than people realize.

    2. Good show, though he did manage to mispronounce Grant Achatz (intentionally??).

      8 Replies
      1. re: biskuit

        Why would he mispronounce Achatz on purpose? I'm inclined to believe he's just ignorant.

        1. re: Ericandblueboy

          There was a big dustup at the end of last year between the two that is still simmering apparently. It's mentioned here -

          1. re: biskuit

            That video link appears to be dead, but I assume it refers to the StarChefs Congress this past fall where Bourdain was on a panel discussion at which Marco Pierre White complained about (some would say mocked) multi-course tasting menus, with some comments which were perceived as directly targeted at Achatz, and Bourdain (who's certainly enjoyed many such meals himself) apparently joined in the fun. More discussion here ->

            1. re: Frodnesor

              When Bourdain has more credential than running a French Waffle House, I'll give his opinion more credence.

              For Bourdain to intentionally mispronounce someone's name who happens to be far superior to him as a chef, well, that's like watching the losers bitch on Top Chef.

              1. re: Ericandblueboy

                And how do you know the correct pronunciation? I wouldn't be able to guess it from the written form.

                1. re: Ericandblueboy

                  aa' kits - a bit of a leap - I wonder if it's his affectation or a family tradition.

                  As to his being a superior chef, I don't think Tony would challenge that. He thinks of himself as a journeyman chef - someone with 30+ years of working on the line and working his way up to being the exec of a place that's been around a while - a place that runs well and turns out decent food. To me, that demands its own respect.

                  But other than that, Tony's a writer. His ability to communicate in words (and on screen), combined with his curiosity and adventurousness is what makes him a star. His attitude helps.

                  Achatz graduated from the CIA about 20 years after Tony did. He grew up in a restaurant family and fast tracked after graduating almost directly to the French Laundry. This is like the polar opposite of Tony's career - he's taken so many side trips, it's a miracle he's alive, never mind being in the position he is. Comparing these two in some linear measurement of cooking superiority is apples and oranges, steak frites and MG.

                  Achatz is certainly more than a flash in the pan, but he's still mainly a young kid that's been recognized for his genius (and his arrogance - Tony certainly doesn't hold a match to him in that category). If Tony intended any slight in the mispronunciation, it would most likely have little to do with comparative cooking abilities.

                  I wonder about the timing of Tony's show at The French Laundry - was Achatz still the Sous there and if so, is he part of the show? I remember Tony visiting the kitchen and speaking to several people there (besides Keller). Anybody have a tape?

                  1. re: applehome

                    I found it on line - the show (A Cook's Tour on FN) was in 2001. Achatz is definitely there, making some of the food for Keller to serve to Tony, Eric Ripert, Michael Ruhlman, and Scott Bryan. I've attached a picture (Achatz is on the left, Keller on the right). Also, here's a 1-minute excerpt that includes this very brief scene of Achatz (he's at the end).


                    All this is meaningless, of course - just a curiosity. Like having seen a great ballplayer while he was in the minors. Tony's show on TFL is wonderful to watch again - it is the best of the best. Watching these foodie-chefs get so impressed over, and over again is just amazing.

          2. re: biskuit

            I caught that too! I can't believe he doesn't actually know him or at least have been somewhere where someone else was talking about him who did know him, or at least how to pronounce his name.

          3. I agree. People usually does the Unos/Nancy's/Geno's/Giordano's thing for Chicago styled pizza. To his credit he didn't but it would have been better if he would have gone rhapsodic over WHY he changed his mind about Chicago style pizza.

            And he did the hot dog thing, but he didn't do the Italian beef thing, what's up with that?

            Too bad Berghoff's is closed, he would have gone all snarky there too.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Phaedrus

              "Too bad Berghoff's is closed, he would have gone all snarky there too."

              It reopened a while back; shell of it's former self, but the bar's still the same.

              1. re: Phaedrus

                He didn't explain why, but right at the start he said he wasn't going to do the italian beef thing. My guess is that others, such as Man v Food, have already covered it. Is there something new that we should know about?

                1. re: paulj

                  From Tony's 'Tube City' blog entry:
                  "Missed the famous "Italian Beef" but we've been on something of a beef sandwich jag lately--in Baltimore and Buffalo and that might have been a beef too far."

                  1. re: paulj

                    PIt Beef in Baltimore and Beef on Wec's in Buffalo. Nice!!!!


              2. I thought it was a very good episode but i think the Mexico episode was the best of the season so far. In fact, I think it may be my favourite episode ever. I thought that Three Little Pigs sandwich was so over the top delicious looking it made me want to jet off and grab one.


                2 Replies
                1. re: Davwud

                  I had one for dinner Wednesday night! Or, to be precise, I had a third of it for dinner Wednesday night, a third for lunch on Thursday and the last third for lunch today. It's a *monster*. The bacon and ham were excellent, but surprisingly the breaded pork tenderloin was totally nondescript (the coating was nicely crunchy in a cornflakey way, but there wasn't any seasoning to speak of). The sandwich is topped with cheese, a fried egg, and a gigantic onion ring. I had to smash it down with some force to get it to a height that would fit into my mouth. Glad I tried it, but my arteries tell me it's a once-in-a-lifetime treat.

                  Of note: The Silver Palm and its tiny next-door sister bar, the Matchbox, have outstanding classic cocktails. I'm a sucker for their sidecars, right down to the brandied cherry nestled in the bottom of the glass.

                  1. re: Davwud

                    I'm feeling the need for a trip to Chicago just for one of those. Only a 15ish hour drive.... hmmm.....

                  2. I wasn't too impressed with the episode. I feel like AB's lost his edge, and his interest. I'm guessing that becoming a daddy changed him significantly.

                    Last season was so. much. better.