Well, I'm glad I didn't bet the house on the next contestant to be shown the door in Sunday's episode of "America's Next Great Restaurant."


To my surprise, Greg and Krystal, at right, and their Grill 'Billies concept did well this week, and Alex of Revolution Tacos, above, hit the wall with not-great food and a clear penchant for owning a bar. Early in the episode he noted, "My whole concept is about being cool and rock-n-roll" and he described the look of his restaurant concept as like "a cool bar in LA." In the judges' discussion, Bobby Flay said Alex was in the wrong contest: He should be competing for an LA bar. Bye, bye Alex.


Oh, so many twists and turns in this episode: The contestants who seemed safe earlier now found themselves called before the judges in the you're-in-trouble line-up. Alex, Joey of Saucy Balls and Eric of Meltworks had to face the judges' tribunal. Eric, who had been planning his concept for three years, had blithely ignored Bobby Flay's suggestion from last week to add signature dipping sauces, and this week back pedaled and said "I love the idea of signature sauces" when he was before the tribunal. The judges complained that Eric had plateaued with his concept, with Steve noting that "I think we've seen all we're going to see out of him." Bobby was more blunt when he told Eric that his food wasn't a melted cheese sandwich, but a panini with a little cheese. Oh, the food world can be cruel. "Nobody's safe," Eric said later. "It's anybody's game."

As for Joey and his Saucy Balls, at right (with his chef at left), the complaints were that the food was too heavy and spicy (garlic breath anyone?) for a fast-casual restaurant. Perhaps more serious, a gaggle of young women, guests from the Dine LA Restaurant Week who sampled the contestants' food, said they didn't want to eat something called Saucy Balls. No surprise to anyone who isn't a teenager.


Best line came from a restaurant designer who, when helping with the Grill 'Billies' concept, acknowledged that his goal was to make the mullet stylish, to which Greg said, "We'll have Mullet Mondays."

Stephenie took viewers and judges by surprise by taking her restaurant concept in a totally new direction, from low-calorie to Mediterranean, with a change of restaurant name from ComplEAT to Harvest Sol. Judging from the reception to her food, it was a productive and tasty move.

Jamawn of Soul Daddy and Sandy of Saints & Sinners had a relatively quiet week, with Jamawn getting low ratings on his food, and Sandy hanging in there with a concept that doesn't seem viable.








Sudhir with Spice Coast won the contest with the Dine LA guests, and he certainly had my vote with his Madras lamb, naan and mango-pomegranate shake. If I was a betting gal (and clearly my track record means I shouldn't be: see above), my money would be on Sudhir as the final big winner: Fast-casual Indian has no competition in the marketplace.

As for judge Curtis Stone, who has used this same phrase too many times: "I'm telling you right now, straight to your face, you're this far from going home" as he pinches his fingers: Curtis, you need a new line now that you've said it to most of the contestants.

Viewers are losing interest, as the show dropped from #75 to #87 this week in the Nielsen ratings, with only 2.67 million households watching (last week it was 2.81 million). Stay tuned.

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