Well, I finally got around to watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations SF episode over the weekend. Now I am--like most everyone else--a big Bourdain fan. His unvarnished commentary and loose-cannon opinions are often a delight in the relentlessly enthusiastic and back-scratching world of food media. But how would I feel when those sights are trained on my beloved home, the SF Bay Area?
Well, not great, as it turns out. I thought the show was lame—both the food side and especially from the drinks side. The "I'm a macho meat man" is getting a bit old, as is the Alice-Waters piling on and the predictable hippie-vegan-liberal jokes. Episodes like this one show that Bourdain is starting to become a caricature of Bourdain, just like every other man in the food world. While I liked the Sebo, Taco Truck, and Incanto sequences, the fact that the show gave so much air time to past-their-prime places like the House of Prime Rib, Red's Java House, Tadich Grill and Aub Zam Zam was incredibly disappointing. Most of the show was a tourist's tour of SF minus a stop at Fisherman's Wharf. Some of the other parts that weren't touristy, like the disgusting torta he slobbers over at That's It Market, were a slap in the face to the chefs doing interesting, innovative food here.
And what the heck with all the martinis? It was as if there are no decent cocktail bars in the city. Not that I'd expect Bourdain to care about any of SF's more haute concoctions, but still. Aub Zam Zam was a curiosity when it was run by the martini nazi. Last time I went in there, however, it smelled like vomit, and I see it today as just a dive bar with a fancy interior. Martinis at the HoPR and Tadich, as well. No real mention of wine or beer.
Fortunately, there was a scene involving a pouty Bourdain and Chris Cosentino visiting St. George/Hangar One at 8 a.m. in the morning to taste absinthe and both goose-foie- and duck-foie-infused vodka. Unfortunately, it was left on the cutting-room floor. Still, you can watch it here.
Even though Bourdain disdainfully quips that "distilling scenes . . . are like the most boring to watch--ever" and calls the distillery "St George Wine and Spirits" (there's no "wine" there), he did seem genuinely impressed with the foie-gras vodkas.
But this show—which was not a terribly interesting or well-researched look at the Bay Area—proved to me that despite all his macho meat talk and punk rock, the guy is apparently an uninterested lightweight when it comes to good drinks.