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Brotherly Love (and Loads of Confusion) on "Last Restaurant Standing"

If you watched last night's episode of BBC America's Last Restaurant Standing, I am curious to know what you thought about the latest elimination.

To me, it was a foregone conclusion that brothers Michael and Ed would be the ones to get the chop and their restaurant, the woefully struggling Treacle Well, would close its doors forever. This week, the three teams in the challenge--the brothers, Emma and Martin, and Lloyd and Adwoa--had to cater a three-course dinner for 50 guests at a dinner at Blenheim Palace.

I thought that Lloyd and Adwoa were smart to fuse their trademark Ghanian cuisine with a lighter, fresher menu that reflected what their group--businesswomen from Banbury--would come to expect from a networking dinner. Their only hiccup: that terribly plated dessert of tropical fruit and cream, which looked slopped on the plate without any forethought. Personally, I would have done a parfait, layering their stewed fruit with thick cream, if they wanted something light and simple. As it was, it looked more suitable for a cafeteria than an elegant dinner.

Emma and Martin did a good job cooking for and entertaining their guests, a group of Oxford rugby players... in spite of their lack of organization. Martin neglected to purchase any chef's whites for his agency staff (Grant ended up fashioning aprons for them out of leftover fabric from the tablecloths) and only brought one frying pan with him. Which would have been bad enough, except that he had to cook no less than fifty steaks for his hungry guests. Raymond Blanc was right to scold him and teammate Emma for not organizing themselves better by writing a list of all of their essential ingredients and equipment ahead of time. (As it was, Martin had to sneak into the house to steal that frying pan as he had actually not brought any with him.) Still, their food--salad of warm chicken livers and seared steak with veg for the main--looked gorgeous, though once again dessert proved to be tricky: their pavlova was a disaster and the kitchen ended up serving thick whipped cream and strawberries in the end. Not the best save but serviceable all the same.

Then there was the brothers. Sigh. I knew it was going to be a major catastrophe as soon as I saw Michael being delusional again about his menu, his skills, and his customers. What would you have served a group of Bangladeshis from Oxford, knowing their tastes in advance? Certainly not traditional English fare: chilled asparagus vinaigrette, seared lamb, vegetables en papillote, chocolate truffles? Yet that's just what Michael did, serving underseasoned, bland (at least to the palettes of his guests) food that they were unaccustomed to--0ne man admitted he had never even eaten asparagus before--and which was completely unsuitable for the client. The lamb was also completely undercooked, rare in the middle, which was insulting to the guests; Ed and Michael completely missed the point of using halal meats, if they weren't going to cook them appropriately.

Knowing that he had 30 vegetarians in attendance--more than half of his guests!--why was the vegetarian entree such an afterthought? After his failed attempt at making a vegetable tart (also unsuitable), Michael then came up with the awful idea of shoving some carrots, peas, and leaks into some greaseproof paper with some cream and wine and calling it papillote. The paper parcels completely failed to puff up and the end result was a soggy, greasy mess that baffled the guests and was just utterly depressing. Why not cook a big batch of spicy vegetable curry with fresh veg and loads of heat? Why force your cuisine choices onto the customer?

Even Ed, who is usually logical and realistic compared to his brother, failed to notice how unhappy the guests were and how much food was going uneaten. As much as I had rooted for the brother early on, it's clear that they are in way over their heads and had to be the ones to get cut from the pack.

But what did you think: was it time for them to head home? Should inspector Sarah been quite as insulted and irate about their choices as she was? And who is moving into the frontrunner position to win this competition and earn their very own restaurant with Raymond Blanc?

Next week on Last Restaurant Standing, the couples have to come up with distinctive brands for their restaurants that will make them stand out amid a crowded marketplace; one wastes all of their marketing budget on printing leaflets that are riddled with errors; others turn up on the radio; Jeremy's cooking class idea is an apocalyptic disaster.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Big Brother 9 (CBS); Law & Order: Criminal Intent (NBC); America's Next Top Model (CW); Wife Swap (ABC); Moment of Truth (FOX)

9 pm:
Criminal Minds (CBS); Law & Order: Criminal Intent (NBC); Pussycat Dolls Present Girlicious (CW); Supernanny (ABC); American Idol (FOX)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Law & Order (NBC); Men in Trees (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: America's Next Top Model.

On tonight's episode ("House of Pain"), the girls are forced to put on unitards and get pointers from Tyra on "expressing themselves" at the end of a runway; one girl gets to have a photo shoot with judge Nigel Barker while posing nude; three girls gang up on one of the model wannabes who doesn't seem to know how to turn off her alarm clock in the early morning.

9 pm: MI-5 on BBC America.

If you missed the third season of MI-5 (aka Spooks) when it aired on A&E a few years back, you can catch it tonight on BBC America. On tonight's installment ("Who Guards the Guards?"), a notorious writer is nearly murdered while under MI-5 protection, leading the team to investigate a Pakistani terrorist organization.

10 pm: Top Chef on Bravo.

On tonight's episode ("Block Party"), Rick Bayless drops by as a guest judge while the chefs are tasked with putting on a neighborhood fiesta and tensions between the contestants--especially one couple--reaches a breaking point.


Anonymous said…
Wow. The brothers really made a mess of it. Their guests may have been a tough crowd (I mean, really, who in the UK hasn't had asparagus before?) but Ed and Michael completely missed their target when it came to the food. Not only was the food inappropriate for the crowd but it wasn't cooked well either.

I like the brothers but their inexperience finally got the better of them. And if Martin and Emma don't up their game soon, they'll also be headed down the treacle well.

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