Ditch Plains, a wonderful restaurant across the street from my apartment, has closed. And the rents in my neighborhood are to blame.
Owner Marc Murphy did everything right when they opened three years ago. Their ‘soft open’ lasted a month, offering the entire menu at half-price and free appetizers and desserts. By the time they officially opened their doors, the entire neighborhood was hooked. On the menu. The atmosphere. The friendly vibe.
During the past three years, I have been a loyal customer, and from my unique vantage point, I have seen them maintain a healthy business — far more popular with people of all ages than the two previous restaurants that occupied that same space for brief spans of time. But like their predecessors, Ditch Plains’ success still couldn’t scale the exorbitant rents in my neighborhood.
And they are no more.
If you visit my neighborhood, you will see several empty storefronts. They no doubt are victims, too.
I’m watching Food Network Star right now, which has been in Las Vegas for the past couple of weeks.
But it certainly doesn’t look like Vegas.
Every time Bobby, Alton or Giada — the show’s three hallowed hosts — stand before this season’s contestants to set up a challenge, it looks like they are shooting the episode in an empty room. Or vacant parking lot.
Food Network goes to such great lengths to clear out the ‘normal folk’ during production, Vegas looks nothing like the manic city I have experienced every time I’ve had the chance to visit.
Why go to the expense of using Vegas as your backdrop if you’re going to make it sterile and still? You might as well fake the whole thing at the Food Network studios here in New York City.
The show’s producers must have heard me. They just announced this week’s survivors are coming to Manhattan for the remainder of the season.
I am fascinated by the critics’ take on the movie Chef, which is currently 88 percent fresh on RottenTomatoes.com.
I found it stale and oh-so-overcooked.
I watch a lot of Food Network, so I had high hopes for the film’s ‘recipe’: a chef gets fired after he starts a Twitter war with a restaurant critic, and opens a food truck.
Seems new, seems current.
Turns out all the conflict that drives the film is in the first 15 minutes. After the chef (Jon Favreau) loses his job, everyone and everything starts working in his favor.
Need a food truck? His ex-wife gets her other ex-husband to provide one. Takes him to Miami to get it. Appears to bankroll the enterprise, too. (Sure, that happens.)
Need help setting it up? His former junior cook travels across the country — without pay — to help him get started. That sainted ex-wife even takes orders at one point.
Need to reconnect with your kid? The ex-wife — again, the most non-confrontational divorced couple in the history of movies and life, for that matter — lets an 11-year old kid work as a line cook on a food truck for the entire summer. Without checking in. Right.
I don’t want to give away the ending in case you plan to see it. But let’s just say that, once the food truck is parked —
Nothing really happens then, either. Or if it does, they don’t show it.
Because conflict might wake you up out of your food coma.