Pop quiz: What ordinarily delicious food is the worst thing ever after a night of drinking? Raw oysters, you say? That is correct.
Nevertheless, this week found Jen and Spike—so strung out on moonshine that Spike has to pull his car over on the side of the highway so Jen can regain her sea legs—climbing aboard an oyster boat to shuck and suck down jiggly bivalves from the Rappahannock oyster beds along with frequent LATC guest stars Travis Croxton and Craig Rogers. Let’s get this out of the way: Jen does not throw up over the side of the vessel—but it looked pretty touch and go there for a minute. Vomit scares aside, this episode is really all about relationships: the one between Spike and his family, Jen and hers, Richard Blais and his bottom line-minded investors, and Fabio and his (imaginary?) friend Jacopo. We’ll be getting into all of it, so pour yourself a tall glass of unaged whiskey—it’s going to be a bumpy boat ride.
“Are you just copying Thomas Keller?”
Spike and sister Micheline—who makes the above ball-busting comment while Spike is creating a Cochon-style salad—are hard at work turning the defunct, stucco-walled Thai Roma restaurant into steak-frites (remember “frites” sounds like “knits”) restaurant, Bearnaise. It’s their first restaurant without their parents, and for the Mendelsohn offspring, Bearnaise is like one of those forts kids build out of couch cushions and afghans, with a sign taped to one pillow that reads: “No adults allowed!” Only Mama Mendelsohn keeps ignoring that sign and crawling on in. The kids want to keep the bar at Thai Roma; she says it must go. Spike’s vinaigrette is too acidic. And so on and so on.
It all works out in the end, though: Spike and his partner Brad cook up a preview of the Bearnaise menu, and the family responds in a remarkably positive manner, for once forgoing the opportunity to take their famously arrogant son down a notch or two. He may not be able to pronounce the word “frites” properly, but if the family is to be believed, Spike can make a steak dinner like nobody’s business. We look forward to testing that out ourselves.
“You know this thing where you can smell asparagus when you urinate? I can do that.”
This week, Richard Blais’s segments center on the investors at his forthcoming fine-dining restaurant, the Spence. Remember, his last fancy food endeavor, Blais, went belly-up thanks to a difference in vision between Richie and his cash cows, so he’s gotta get it right with this new batch of money men. The quibble over the menu language—Blais favors descriptions that read like Ruth Reichl tweets—“salsify, ‘bacon,’ rutabaga mist, air”—while his investor seek a little less alienating menu . . . maybe something laminated with a picture of potato skins on the cover? Or, like, a some chili-cheese fries?* Blais holds his ground.
Later, our intense little toque creates a tasting menu for his investors, which includes an asparagus dish decorated with coffee bread crumbs. “Did you say COFFEE?” says one investor, as if Blais had presented a unicorn steak sauced with leprechaun blood. To which Blais replies with that fun fact about asparagus—people in possession of a particular gene can smell the vegetable’s presence in their urine. Yes, Blais has that gene. And he can also smell coffee when he pees! Thus this clever dish you’re about to consume! So . . . yum?
“Maybe Claritin, just because it’s allergy season.”
Safely off the boat, Jen Carroll returns to Philadelphia to make dinner for her parents. Reason number 6,789 we love Jen Carroll: The former Le Bernardin chef actually microwaves instant potatoes for this meal. Prepackaged potatoes! On television! Because Jen Carroll doesn’t need to be serving her parents a dish designed around things you smell while urinating, you know what we mean?
At dinner, she tells the family she’s going to do a pop-up of Concrete Blonde. But, you guys, her sisters don’t even know what a pop-up is, and worry about customers returning for a second meal and being like, “Duh, where’d the restaurant go?” Remarkably, Jen does not face plant into her instant potatoes, but instead takes a long swill of white wine as her (adorable) mom tells her she should turn the pop-up into a rave with glowsticks and dancing. Amused, Jen asks her mom if she doesn’t think a rave might invite drug use? But Mom is confident Jen’s restaurant ravers will limit themselves to over-the-counter allergy medication. And that’s pretty much that.
“Instead of Batman and Robin, it’s Batman and Batman.”
Fabio’s segments focus on his Italian stallion bromance with Jacopo—which sounds like the name of an evil court jester in one of those hastily penned Scholastic fantasy books that fill elementary-school library shelves. The two men ride horses together (a favorite childhood activity of Fabio’s); they do a dog-and-stallion show for a charity dinner; they mock-fellate a couple of cake pops—it seems like terminally stressed Fabio can only relax around his doppleganger BFF. Which leads us to a theory: What if Jacopo is just a figment of Fabio’s imagination? Have you ever seen Jacopo when Fabio wasn’t there? Doesn’t it seem coincidental that the two men are essentially mirror images? Maybe during Fabio’s terrible childhood of horseback riding and enduring the constant attention of his adoring mother, he created Jacobo as a coping mechanism? Think about it. That’s all we ask. Think. About. It.
*They didn’t actually suggest this.