Friday, October 10, 2008

Honking Box Review: The Restaurant

Amidst the spate of attention-grabbing televisual events at the moment (The X Factor, Merlin, Beautiful People, Heroes, that dancing show people inexplicably go cuckoo over), there’s one show proving to be more gripping, entertaining and generally watchable than all of the above. The Restaurant is quickly establishing itself as one of the greatest reality/elimination shows of recent years.

So far this series, we’ve seen someone serve tinned mango pulp as a dessert and expect to get away with it; potato salad, carrots and green beans passed off as Mexican cuisine; diners being verbally requested by the restaurant manager to leave a tip; and, hilariously, Sir Walter ‘Reilly’.

However, the mighty Sarah Willingham continues to steal the show, although her presence is more of a complement to Monsieur Blanc as opposed to an out-and-out Scherzingerisation. Her steely gaze as she grips the steering wheel en route to dissecting each contestant is something to behold, especially when you know a mezze of knockout one-liners will be doled out once she reaches her destination.

Where The Apprentice sees the truly repugnant Sir Alan Sugar revelling in the misery of desperate, dead-eyed businessbots, Raymond Blanc openly looks for style, creativity and personality over black-and-white figures. Fair enough, excelling in the restaurant trade requires an entirely different set of skills to stomping through the dollar-driven world of business, but the mere fact that Raymond Blanc openly respects and understands the contestants and their ideas only highlights Sralan further as a grotesque, ignorant bully with a severe Napoleon complex.

And yet, the worldwide levels by which all bastards are measured were reset this week on The Restaurant, which would put Sralan somewhere around the Fwuffy Bunny mark. True Provenance played host to arguably the most hateful, aggressive, loathsome fucking scumbag we’ve seen on television this year. If his frankly unbelievable behaviour was some form of compensation for having a small penis, then we can only assume his todger was practically inverted. Fair play to Tim and Lindsie for keeping their calm with such a disgusting example of humanity, as he’d have gone home with a fork in his neck had he been eating at the Sloppy Dog Brasserie.

We openly invite kitchen staff of the nation to defecate in anything this man ever orders. Give the toilet floors a wipe with his steak before slapping it on his plate. Lace his soup with a generous splash of the laxative of your choice. Hell, even if you serve him at the checkout in M&S, try and at least sneeze on his change.

Back to the matter at hand before this turns into another Grace Adams-Short fiasco, this week’s challenge saw the rice-and-grammar-ignorant Welsh Wok duo taking on the sweaty, awkward passive-aggressiveness of The Gallery, and the actually rather endearing Nel’s.

However, the inability of a Cantonese chef to cook rice coupled with front-of-house skills frostier than a particularly aloof penguin meant that Laura and Peter rightly got the chop. And although Alastair and James must surely be on their last legs, The Restaurant would be far less entertaining without them. A frankly bizarre inability to communicate with one another; disorganisation matched only by homoeroticism; out-and-out stupidity. Overall, they’re only just behind Sarah Willingham as the star(s) of the series.

…We should point out, however, that there’s no correlation between who the stars of the series are, and who’s going to win. We’re anticipating a final showdown between Nel’s and The Cheerful Soul, although determining who’ll walk away with the prize is far more difficult. Much as we love The Cheerful Soul, we partly want to see Michele’s happy pink bubble go pop, unleashing all manner of four-letter darkness. Actually, that’s a bit evil, isn’t it? Maybe we’re more suited to The Apprentice after all…

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