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Kitchen Nightmares

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  • pjr Jan 12, 2012 09:46 AM
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Kitchen Nightmares is looking to cast restaurants in the Boston area to feature on their show.
Which restaurant would you like to see get rehabbed by Gordon Ramsey ?

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  1. This isn't mean to be an impolite response, but are you asking out of curiosity or because you work for the show? I think it's important to make that distinction since the people on this board are typically so generous with their ideas and should know the purpose.

    6 Replies
    1. re: hckybg

      Curiosity. I noticed it on Grub Street and thought it would be an interesting topic.

      1. re: pjr

        Thanks, I appreciate your response. I'm not a big fan of Ramsey and wonder if his changes ever actually make the restaurants successful. I have noticed more than once that a restaurant that was on the show touts that fact in order to attract business, which seems to defeat the purpose of the reboot. But one place that I think could be much more interesting than it is, especially in a neighborhood with a great food scene, is S&S. With some interesting chefs reimagining deli across the country, it's sort of a shame that S&S has relegated their deli tradition to a small section of the menu and otherwise has a pretty unexciting menu. But they seem to do well regardless.

        1. re: hckybg

          S&S's popularity shocks me. That place is really terrible, by almost every measure. I get angry when I see the prime real estate they are taking up.

          1. re: DoubleMan

            I do like their matzo ball soup, which is pretty straightforward and generally has a ball that remains both toothsome and fluffy. Their corned beef sandwich is fine, if pretty standard for deli case corned beef. And some things in their deli case are good, including the smoked fish and cookies. Brunch is also fine, if unremarkable. But I agree that for the most part it is pretty unimaginative and often disappointing. The blintzes were not good when I had them, and I immediately regretted the choice.

            1. re: DoubleMan

              It is sad. Once upon a time they were a real Jewish deli, but they sold their soul when they expanded in the '70s and revamped the menu in an unfortunately successful attempt to lure the brunch and bar crowd. The original S&S was just the small section where the take-out counter is now.

          2. re: pjr

            This is happening again?

        2. Barking Crab. The location has so much potential.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Gabatta

            Actually, the barking crab closed for a week to do some changes. In the good weather, they have all the business they can handle, from the children's museum.

            There are several legal locations which could use the help.

            1. re: libertywharf

              I was answering from the standpoint that the food sucks and I wouldn't eat there.

              Are most of the people boozing it up there really coming from the Children's museum? I tend to doubt it.

              1. re: Gabatta

                It's just general tourist traffic. Between the Harborwalk, the footbridge to the Seaport, and just the general proximity to the financial district where there are limited food options on the weekends in the Summer. You could add The Daily Catch next door to the list as well. The only resemblance to the North End location is the name and the prices.

                1. re: mkfisher

                  The fort point area is loaded with small businesses. Fidelity is not far as well. In addition there are many who park in the seaport area and walk by on their way to work. The area is more then tourists, but glad to hear that you realize tourists are in the area. The barking crab had issues years ago, but now is a thriving business.

                  1. re: libertywharf

                    "Issues years ago" aside, the Crab has always been busy, and it has always been awful.


                2. re: Gabatta

                  ha! good point.

                  1. re: Gabatta

                    Yes, they come from the children's museum. The left side on the crab allows families to bring in strollers. Go down in the good weather and you will see the left side packed with famies. Food is not bad either.

                    1. re: libertywharf

                      Actually, the food Is bad.

              2. Sonny's.

                Owner is a Honey Badger which would make for good tv, Gordon being the cobra, of course.

                1 Reply
                1. re: C. Hamster

                  Honey Badger don't give a sh*#


                2. Jacob Wirth

                  1. I've said this before, but an appearance on Kitchen Nightmares is usually a futile Hail Mary pass. Ramsay is admittedly a gifted chef, and he has built a lucrative brand as a certain kind of reality-TV entertainer, but as an actual restaurateur, he's kind of pitiful: many of his places are money-losers.

                    The show's dirty secret is that he rarely if ever addresses the business management issues at the root of most restaurant failures. At best, he does a perfunctory dining room and menu makeover. Most of his Cinderellas enjoy a brief bump in popularity after the episode airs, then fail within a year or two anyway.

                    Last time this question was raised here, Davide was about to appear on the show. Back then, I suggested the Red Fez, while noting that the Red Fez's owners don't appear to really give a damn about filling seats. Likewise, horrors like the Barking Crab don't qualify: the place needs to be verging on failure. Places that suck and are still profitable don't merit Chef Shouty McSpittlefleck's tender ministrations.


                    6 Replies
                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      Hear-Hear, MC! That being said, I often can't resist both his show and Irvine's, as my only reality TV "guilty pleasure". I think Irvine does a better job of addressing business downfalls and trying to get the owners to consider their costs vs. sales. However, the thought that a couple of whirlwind days to correct often years of neglect/mismanagement is a pipedream at best. Maybe he could help Chau Chow City, which seems to have really slipped of late. It would be amusing to see him address cleanliness issues in Chinatown!! ;)

                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        For example, Downcity in Providence, now out of business...


                        1. re: okra

                          *That's* the one I always noticed for touting its appearance on the show in the front window. That seemed like a bad sign. "Hey, come here! We were a really crappy restaurant until a celebrity chef had us on a TV show!"

                        2. re: MC Slim JB

                          I indirectly supply one of his restaurants and it's not doing very well at all.

                          Maybe he should be focusing on his own places.

                          1. re: typhoonfish

                            Amazing that few people seem to be aware of his string of failures and red-ink-generators in his own restaurant empire. Physician, heal thyself! The famous-asshole thing seems to be working out better for him: he's got a dozen TV shows, that Acura commercial, a line of cookware for Kmart, and so on.

                            Anyone been to Davide lately?


                          2. re: MC Slim JB

                            i brought someone to both gordon ramsey in london -3 stars - and was not impressed. i wonder why he got those stars and why he is considered such a great chef?

                          3. This is an odd answer, but the Robinwood Cafe in JP. I pass it all the time and it's never got more than 4 people except during weekend breakfast. I don't know how they can compete with the other places that do casual well and have booze (Costello's, Galway), or have a more interesting breakfast (Centre St. Sorella's altho S sucked a couple weeks ago with WAY too many ingredients in the omelette even w/ cutting half of them out) and better coffee places. It's a good sized, decent space and I wish there was something to draw people in. They've at least turned down the glaring fluorescent lights.

                            1. Weird thing is how different the US show is from the original British one. That show was gentle. No yelling. Time spent with the chefs. I remember one where he spent time kicking a soccer ball around with the big kid who was over his head running the kitchen because he wanted him to have more confidence. And another where he hired a young British chef to run a small Parisian restaurant which the owner decided to fold, so he took the kid into one of his kitchens in London. Totally different from the monster character who sells so big on US TV.

                              1. The Friendly Toast fits just about every characteristic you find in restaurants on KN. Except that they seem to get money.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Luther

                                  The Friendly Toast is always busy

                                  1. re: Luther

                                    Not really. Restaurants on KN are typically decades out of date, misjudge their clientele's tastes, have terrible cooks, an empty dining room on good days, and desperate owners.

                                    Given that the place is always packed, and has tasty hipster food perfect for their crowd, I can only assume you mean that the owners are desperate and out-of-touch with their own restaurant.

                                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                                      I mean that the menu is long, confusing and overpriced, the service is incompetent, and the food tastes like it's made by a well-meaning person who is totally ignorant of how to cook outside of his or her own home kitchen. But yeah, successful business I guess.

                                  2. Thinking about which places have done Groupons recently -

                                    L'il Vinny's in Somerville would seem to qualify
                                    Brunello Bistro maybe? How is that place doing?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                      Oh, good way of thinking about it! In that case, Saray in Allston would be a great candidate. Pretty little Turkish restaurant in Packard's Corner that started out strong but seems to have lost its way.

                                      For that matter, Ariana might could use a shake-up. I've been there, and the food is good, it's a nice enough room, and it's smack in the middle of a block full of busy restaurants, but they never seem to be even halfway full.

                                    2. What has this query got to do with chowhounders finding good chow in the greater boston area?

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: nasilemak

                                        Well, it certainly is informative about where *not* to find good chow......equally as important!

                                        1. re: Science Chick

                                          Sad to see a ridiculous tv 'reality' show helmed by a foul-mouthed celeb being the impetus of this discussion.

                                          1. re: Science Chick

                                            Agreed: negative recommendations can be as valuable to me as positive ones. Surely a candidate for Ramsay's show counts as a negative recommendation.


                                        2. .....not a huge fan of most 'cooking' or 'food' shows lately other than PBS/Chris Kimballs 'Cooks'-oriented shows which are actually instructive and its about food and not a cult of personality....that said, on Cape Ann there is a kitchen nightmare being Alchemy Bistro in Gloucester which packs them in but the food is just wholly undewhelming, just chucked together with fru-fru presentation to no effect...well intentioned food poorly executed is still bad food.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: ipsofatso

                                            Again, if the place does good business it should NOT be nominated for a show about failing restaurants. It amazes me that people who have petty complaints about a restaraunt's food or service call out for a complete makeover. The last time was at Alchemy I had a great short rib wellington. The drinks are stellar when the bar manager is beind the stick and the beer list is well curated.

                                            I would like to nominate Rafiki Bistro. Why hasn't this place closed yet?

                                            1. re: Unfoodie

                                              I agree with both your comments. I've liked Alchemy pretty well the times I've been, although I haven't been back for a year or so.

                                              As far as Rafiki goes, we went shortly after they opened and had a pretty good experience. When we went back, it was completely lifeless. There was no love or passion in that food or in the place.

                                              1. re: Unfoodie

                                                Unfoodie, Well said. If a place is busy like the barking crab, they have identified their market and that group of people are the only ones they need to keep happy.

                                                1. re: Unfoodie

                                                  Upthread, Bob Dobalina suggested that restaurants that are resorting to Groupons might be desperate enough for business that it could be an indicator that they were a good Kitchen Nightmares candidate:

                                                  Lo and behold, today Rafiki is offering a $30 Goupon for $15...

                                                  1. re: Unfoodie

                                                    I was walking by Rafiki a few months ago and saw two people out front pointing to their awning and sign and debating something about "a complete change or re-creation." We'd had a disappointing meal there previously, so I filed that conversation away to await news of a relaunch but am still waiting.

                                                2. Actually, would love to see Ramsey turn to cannibalism and hit up a place like Blue Ginger or Kingfish Hall...

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                    That's a fascinating riddle. If two celebrity chefs simultaneously expose one another as all flash and no substance, does the world implode?

                                                  2. A couple of Waltham candidates: Biaggio, John Brewer's

                                                    1. Franklin Southie. Food could be so much better than it is, a real destination instead of sinking to the level of the traditional neighborhood joints around there. A good example is La Groceria being replaced by Craigie.

                                                      1. Echo bridge in newton ma. It needs serious rehab ! Pizza is great but menu is in need of overhaul. Could also use a renovation

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                                          Anthony's Pier 4 - what a disaster.

                                                          1. re: teezeetoo

                                                            Oh, yes. Surprised Pier 4 wasn't mentioned earlier. But, it may be a moot point as that pier is scheduled to be redeveloped soon into residential and retail I believe. However, there was some talk of Pier 4 returning when the development is complete.

                                                            1. re: pemma

                                                              I suspect it's unlikely Anthony's Pier 4 will return to the Seaport. Between their superannuated menu, the welter of healthy new competition nearby, and their longstanding tax troubles, I'm guessing it will disappear.


                                                        2. It's going to be Antonia's on Revere Beach. This is a total shame because the place has decent fare at great prices but doesn't cater to the weekend beer, shot and loud music crowd that the 3 other establishments on the beach draw. It's the nicest place on the Blvd but that's not to say it's a destintion point. It's has a lot of seats and they're packed for the summer months but rather empty when the beach crowd isn't around. I feel bad for the owners/managers because no one comes off looking good on that show.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: Unfoodie

                                                            Hard to feel bad if they are agreeing to be on the show.

                                                            1. re: Unfoodie

                                                              How do you know it's going to be Antonia's?

                                                              1. re: Unfoodie

                                                                Antonia's has backed out of the contract with Kitchen Nightmares. They have hired a new management team (with lots of experience from big name Boston restaurants) and plan to change the restaurant the old fashion way.

                                                                1. re: Unfoodie

                                                                  They were never given a contract. They were not considered for the show.

                                                                  1. re: KristinCFood

                                                                    This thread never happened.

                                                                    1. re: KristinCFood

                                                                      That's not what I was told by a number of sources who have relations with the restaurant.