Bourdain Says He Loves LA … Yet Doesn’t Get That We Have Restaurants Here?
in his recent season finale Layover show on LA, Anthony Bourdain now says he loves it “out here.” However, after watching the show, I, for one, am not buying it.
First, let’s talk about why most New Yorkers, not just Bourdain, like to say that California is “out here.” Actually, when you’re here in LA, you’re just “here.” Saying it’s “out here” somehow implies that the real center of the universe is “back” in New York which, while that may make sense to Tony, isn’t the case.
Next, if you only have a day or two to check out LA, would you really do what Tony “loves” to do and which he spent so much precious show “real estate” on like:
- WACKO, the “best kept secret in LA” (really?) for hipster accessories and bric a brac (interesting, considering Tony frequently mentions that he hates hipsters);
- The saloon on Skid Row that opens at 6am? (Yeah, this is a must-see for all of my out-of-town guests);
- The “Burlesque” (ahem, strip?) club in Little Armenia? (Yup, that’s where all my friends are hanging out these days);
- The bird on the beach? (Waaaay too long of a segment which confirmed for me that Tony has jumped the shark); or
- The Dearly Departed Tours? (Really, if you only have 30 hours in LA, this is what you want to do?).
And what was with ALL that time they spent on him at Chateau Marmont? Do we really need to see Tony making breakfast for himself and eating croissant there?
And on Koreatown. While Roy Choi has a good point about its increasing popularity, I think Tony’s statement that “LA is not about Hollywood at all – it’s about Koreans” is a bit over the top – and directly conflicts with his taking the Dearly Departed Tour above (pretty Hollywood, no?).
And, of course, one of the main things to check out on any Layover is the food. Which raises another question: Does Tony really love LA’s food? It’s no secret that I was skeptical about his knowledge of and affinity for the LA dining scene. After the show, I know he’s out of step.
It’s great that he lauded Food Truck pioneers Roy Choi’s Kogi BBQ (“elusive objects of desire”) and Ludo Lefebvre’s Guerrilla Fried Chicken truck (the biscuits made with honey and lavender sound divine). But what about their respective buzzed about restaurants (especially Roy’s Sunny Spot and Ludo’s much-coveted roaming restaurant, Ludo Bites)?
Perhaps it’s the concept of restaurants in LA that stumps Tony. During the show he said that it always throws him when people ask what his favorite restaurant is here because he doesn’t think of LA in terms of restaurants. I’m confused … correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that most of the places Tony visited during the show were, in fact, restaurants:
- His beloved In-N-Out? A restaurant, albeit a fast food one that generated much more buzz 10+ years ago. Since then, LA (or, as Tony calls us, the “King of the Low End Eateries”) has seen an explosion of great burger places such as Umami, Short Order, Father’s Office (an Institution), Rustic Canyon, and The Six.
- Animal? Pretty sure it’s a restaurant. Bravo, Tony, for highlighting why both food service types and foodies alike are flocking there. With Spam & Foie, Hamachi Tostadas, Coconut Sweet Breads, Pig Tails and Crispy Rabbit Legs, I have NO idea why I haven’t been to this place yet.
- Red Medicine? Hmm, I’d say it’s a RESTAURANT. While he didn’t go (maybe he was too busy at the Chateau or talking with the bird), at least he mentioned the non-traditional Vietnamese hot spot.
And, in terms of restaurants, what about other places which have been killing it on the scene, such as:
- Animal’s cousin, Son of a Gun;
- Gjelina, Mecca for pretty much every Foodie I know in LA;
- Culina at Four Seasons Los Angeles (with Chef Vic Casanova serving up incredible modern Italian fare);
- Sotto (deemed LA’s best new restaurant in 2011 by LA Magazine);
- Whist at the Viceroy with Chef Chris Crary (of Top Chef Texas fame);
- Picca (revolutionizing Peruvian food);
- Stella Rossa (whose Pizza Bar has DeathbedFood level salted caramel custard);
- Anything Wolfgang Puck – especially CUT‘s chocolate souffle (which can also be had in the rockin Sidebar);
- Lukshon (from FO’s Sang Yoon);
- Jitlada, who has legendary food blogger Jo Stougaard (aka My Last Bite) trying to sample all of its 300 dishes;
- Michael Voltaggio’s Ink and Ink Sack.
It’s obvious that he really doesn’t “get it.” Or maybe he does understand LA but he’s just a self-admitted “shameless sellout” for ratings as Laine Doss pointed out. Or maybe he’s just trying to come up with awesome one-liners for Eater LA. And, while Grub Street may think that he’s provided a “well-rounded peek at the diversity and character that makes up parts of the huge city normally not reserved for prime time,” it seems to me more like Tony has sold LA down the river. Maybe he should try some of the restaurants above and then let us know what he thinks of LA?