by Chandra Clewley
This week’s episode of 24 Hour Restaurant Battle is between two couples, one new and one old. Justin and JJ have only been together for seven months, but both have restaurant experience. Justin is a bit of a food snob, and JJ has a clear idea of what she wants. Lisa and Zach, on the other hand have been together for 5 years, met as bartender and manager, and know a lot about running a restaurant.
Justin and JJ’s idea is a restaurant called …&Jelly which will be a brunch house that serves waffles, pancakes and French toast. When they go shopping, you get to see Justin’s food preferences and they are high end. Back at the kitchen, his main focus will be on setting up the jelly, which takes a day to set, for all of the plates. The menu will be Pancakes: Sweet Pea Pancake with Mint Butter and Lemon Jelly, Sweet Corn Pancake with Chicken, Cilantro Butter and BBQ Jelly and Caper Pancake with Sour Cream Butter, Salmon and Shallot Jelly. Waffles: Wild Blueberries with Cardomom Butter and Lemon Jelly, Beef Tenderloin with Cilantro Sriracha Butter and Plum Jelly, and Shrimp with Toasted Coconut Butter and Mandarin-Ginger Jelly. For French toast they will serve: “Sacrelicious” Bacon-Stuffed Challah with Cashew Butter and Banana Jelly, and Duck with Date Butter and Mushroom Jelly. They are also offering sides of Poached Eggs and Bacon.
Justin has never cooked in a commercial kitchen and has only worked front of the house. Apparently, he has also only worked in dinner houses, because to offer poached eggs is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. (For those of us who have worked breakfast shifts, we know the hell called poached eggs and we also know why almost every restaurant that serves breakfast stops serving poached eggs after 10 a.m., talk about weeded!!) When the lemon jelly doesn’t set, Justin does everything he can to salvage it, but really, maybe he should have just let it die. The whipping of it fails. Plating it fails. And it becomes Lemon-Butter on the plate. Hey, now there’s an idea…how about lemon butter instead?
The judges absolutely love the concept, which is all JJ, and they love the food, save a couple mistakes, such as sinewy and grizzly tenderloin that is inedible, and lemon jelly that is neither lemon nor jelly.
Meanwhile at Over the Moon, Zach and Lisa are putting everything together. Zach is not a shopper so Lisa takes the reins, apparently like usual, as we see Zach bow to her wishes several times. Their menu is channeling 1950’s comfort food, and will be a first course of: Cream of Mushroom Soup, Bibb Lettuce Salad, Deviled Eggs and Mini Meatloaf Cupcakes. Their second course will be Veal Shank and Short Rib Fettuccini with Tomato Ragu and a Cheese Raviolo, and they will serve Red Velvet Cake for dessert. (Where’s my Pineapple Upside Down, German Chocolate and Black Forest Cakes???)
Zach is feeling a tiny bit overwhelmed, when Lisa steps in to help him out a little. The deviled eggs are really soupy for some odd reason (Were your eggs dry when you pulled the yolk out??) but Zach makes due. He also is enlisted to help Lisa set up the dining room because of his management expertise. Once service begins, the food is coming out slowly and guests are getting a little bugged out.
Zach seems a little “deer in headlights” but once Lisa pulls him onto the floor to talk with the guests and solve some of the problems (gritty lettuce, slow service) he hits his stride, since his expertise is front of the house. This gives him the push he needs to find his pace and regain his confidence, and the expediting stars running smoothly from there. The judges like the food, and especially like the meatloaf cupcake idea with the whipped mashed potato frosting, but when they complement Zach he has a hard time taking the good compliments.
Lisa and Zach have been brought closer and are happier with the experience, while JJ and Justin seem to have has a trickier time adjusting to the stressful nature of running a restaurant, no surprise for a new relationship that was not founded in a stressful environment. In the end, though, the food wins out, that …&Jelly just seems more marketable to the judges.
Don’t miss next Wednesday’s all new episode of 24 Hour Restaurant Battle on Food Network at 10/9 c.
(Image courtesy of Food Network)
Follow Chandra at http://twitter.com/ChandraClewley