HOME > Chowhound > Austin >

Discussion

Gordon's Bringing Kitchen Nightmares To Austin: Here's Who Needs His Help

http://www.austin360.com/blogs/conten...

Who should Gordon break down then build back up?

What Austin restaurant is most in need of a makeover?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Haven't been there personally, but I hear that Treehouse Italian Grill is pretty abysmal. It's right by my house so I drive by all the time... visually it's actually got some nice character. 2.1 in Fearless Critic... yikes.

    2 Replies
    1. re: popvulture

      I concur. Back when I was but a mere culinary naïf in college, I loved the Treehouse for its seeming sophistication. After learning and experiencing a great deal more about food, I returned a few years ago and found that it was not as my time-and-wine-hazed memory had it. With some work, it could really be something, though. It has the location; it just needs the food.

      1. re: ret3

        I'll third this suggestion. I used to live down the street from it, and went once. I've had better pasta from a box.

    2. Carmello's. Phara's. Alborz, Chez Nous. I know it has a lot of fans, but I would also say El Patio.

      -----
      Chez Nous
      510 Neches St, Austin, TX 78701

      El Patio Restaurant
      2938 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

      2 Replies
      1. re: gilintx

        Chez Nous? Really? I love that place.

        -----
        Chez Nous
        510 Neches St, Austin, TX 78701

        1. re: gilintx

          El Patio is beyond rescue short of an act of arson. So is Matt's El Ranch and a host of dumps selling slop referred to as "Tex-Mex".
          This has to be someplace _worth_ saving, not past saving!

          -----
          El Patio Restaurant
          2938 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

        2. Justine's. I think it would be high drama, and the food could probably still be saved.
          Plus I want them to make it, but I know I'm not the only one on here who has witnessed a decline.

          9 Replies
          1. re: NWLarry

            Chez Zee (moldy desserts killed them for me), Bakehouse, Sagra, Cippolina are all pretty high on my ugh list....
            If I had to pick one, I'd vote for Cippolina. I really love the location, like what they want to do, but I find the food pretty unacceptable at least 1/2 the times I've gone there. I got a dish there once which was burnt on the top and congealed cold fat on the bottom. Another time, I got a dish full of (undisclosed on the menu) garlic... there were so many sauteed slivers, I thought they were almonds at first. This isn't a problem for most people, but I have a garlic allergy and hedge away from any garlic at restaurants unless it is cooked for hours in a stew, gravy or sauce. Raw or partially cooked garlic makes me feel like I'm catching the stomach flu for about 24 hours.

            Sagra would probably be next on my list to fix. I really like the location, but I've ordered the same dish there 3 times (without a menu change) and gotten a completely different dish each time... one time I got undercooked eggs (raw whites). Sagra has amazing promise but can't seem to get its act together on a consistent basis.

            -----
            Chez Zee
            5406 Balcones Dr., Austin, TX 78731

            1. re: shan

              I'm surprised to hear this about Cippolina. The pizza has been consistently tasty every time I have eaten there. Only tried a couple pasta dishes over the years but haven't been disappointed with the restaurant yet.

              I would vote for Phara's... It surprises me the volume they do, but still seem to have no clue how to run a restaurant.

              1. re: ebloom

                I'm with you - I've eaten at Cipollina many times and have never experienced anything like that.

                1. re: ridgeback

                  We've gone about 10 times over the last year... Lunch at Cippolina is usually pretty good, but we've thrown up our hands and given up on dinner there.

              2. re: shan

                I thought Bakehouse was already in the queue of restos to be KN rehabbed?

                1. re: stellawine

                  There was a rumor that one of the Bakehouse workers was a mite too temperamental to be allowed close proximity to Gordon.

                  I figure near the end of the series' run there'll be a pull apart brawl in a snack bar like the Moondogs vs the Assassins or the Road Warriors vs Fabulous Ones.

                  It's interesting to see some successful restaurants listed here. The impetus behind the show is that the shop is about to close, go out of business.

                  What restaurants in town are hanging by a thread and need all the help they can get to stay open?

                  1. re: scrumptiouschef

                    Katz's would've been a good candidate. If anybody needs a profanity laden dressing down for serving mediocre food in a mismanaged restaurant it's Marc Katz.

                2. re: shan

                  It would be Chez Zee for me. I hate getting dragged there by friends. Aging decor, mediocre food, disinterested waitstaff... I'm always impressed by how much business they continue to do.

                  Antonio's could get a nod. The new 183 location was terrible from the day it opened.

                  1. re: verily

                    have never been to antonio's, but have not heard good things from co-workers (our office is nearbyish).

              3. The Highball. It has a lot going for it, but the food menu is really struggling. After begging them for a simple hamburger for the last year plus, they finally added one...that costs $15, and has been unanimously reviewed as being "meh" by everyone in my circle of friends who's tried it.

                9 Replies
                1. re: hlk

                  Agree 100%, but man, they're printing money over there. I don't think they give a darn at all. Anyway, continuing your theme on a larger scale, the Alamo Drafthouse needs help. I understand from their blog that Tim League took the kitchens back on the non-franchise (Ritz, S Lamar, Anderson) theaters but the food is still awful. Pizza that tastes like it came from a box, dry burgers, under/overcooked fried apps depending on the day, etc.

                  1. re: brentwood

                    Did you read the Statesman article by Addie Broyles about spending a day there? It sounds like the volume they have to serve within the time constraint makes it very difficult to control quality.

                    1. re: ebloom

                      I did not, thanks for the tip. The challenges you describe make sense, and despite my frustrations, we're lucky to have such a resource in Austin. Maybe my beef is with staff, whose response to complaints has been mostly "Oh well, where else are you going to go?"

                      1. re: brentwood

                        I agree completely and am not trying to make excuses for their food. We mostly just order pizzas and stay away from anything more complex.

                        1. re: ebloom

                          the franchised locations are no better, as i frequent lake creek.
                          we even had a thread going at one point.

                          one of these locations would be a great idea for this show, but given the volume, i am not sure they would qualify.

                    2. re: brentwood

                      I had my best Alamo burger (Royale with cheese) and fries ever last week at the S. Lamar location, and i've been going since the beginning. Perfect meat, not dry, fries just out of the grease. Overpriced, but you know that going in.

                      1. re: brentwood

                        I actually had one of the best pizzas since the old days at the Colorado St. location at the Ritz a couple of weeks ago.

                        1. re: brentwood

                          Hmm, I was thinking franchised Drafthouse too after the last thread... but he can't really go in and make it over (overnight with the team) and rework the menu like he does...

                          1. re: brentwood

                            The only really good food item at the Alamo is the cookies. Made from scratch, baked to order. The rest is just frozen food cooked improperly by underpaid staff. The menu is alright but the food is only as good as the ingredients. (Which are obviously the worst they can find! Frozen burger meat, chicken and steak, brown lettuce and queso/plastic.) I am surprised the staff still gets health ins., since they can't be healthy eating that food! It would be too much for Ramsey to fix... like McDonald's.

                        2. I think one of the main qualifications the show uses for choosing restaurants is that its fallen on hard times. Its not enough that the food isn't good. Most of the places named in this thread thus far would never be considered for that reason.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: ridgeback

                            Treehouse or Phara's are both great candidates. How about Snack Bar?

                            1. re: manisubra

                              I think Snack Bar would be an ideal candidate -- even if they've brought in a new chef. I live close by and have been astounded at the constant missteps this place has made. It sat dormant for seven months before opening (El Sol y La Luna managed to move to a new building and be up and running in a month). It hired an initial staff that, by most accounts, seemed to deeply dislike interacting with customers. It overcharges for the most basic dishes, which all run on the small side. The one that really sort of shocked me was that all the tableware seemed to have come from Ikea -- anyone who's ever worked in a restaurant KNOWS you can't use household tableware. It lasts maybe three weeks. In summary, I've always gotten the impression that Snack Bar was just some people that decided they wanted to play 'Restaurant', and have no clue what they are doing. Kudos to them for hiring a new chef but yeah, Snack Bar is a good suggestion.