Reviews: Restaurant Stakeout

More Staged Guilty Pleasure

After watching and enjoying Mystery Diners - a show haphazardly thrown together by people who could have an infinite supply of laxatives and still not give a shit that you know it's staged - I thought I'd give some other shows on The Food Network a shot.

Restaurant Stakeout is an hour long escapade, and so it suffers a lot more from unnecessary and dull padding; pointless small talk like 'So how long have you owned a restaurant? When did your problems begin? Would you mind telling us what made you think that coming on Kitchen Nightmares-lite and presenting yourself as an unaware imbecile would be good for your business?'

But then a short angry man named Willie comes into the restaurant and sets up some spy cameras to monitor the staff and definitely not touch himself to later. If you haven't seen the show, just imagine walking into a restaurant and hearing a man with a naturally aggressive accent screaming at a terrified young waitress because she couldn't explain the difference to him between a soup tureen and another, slightly smaller soup tureen. That's Willie.

Willie will usually set little 'tests' up for the staff, and one of the best things about this show is that in spite of being an hour long, these are usually so rushed that they become almost micro works of art.

Willie: So that's your head bartender?

Owner (in the midst of realising that inviting this perpetually furious Alex Jones-looking motherfucker to scream on TV that visiting this restaurant is like charging into a goblin's nest isn't the best idea): Yes, his name is Steve, and I have great faith in him.

Willie: Well I'm putting Steve to the test!

Customer: Hi Steve, can I get a drink?

Steve: Uh... what is 'drink'? *Begins to wet himself*

Willie: What? I can't believe this! If I was working here, I'd blow this popsicle stand! Are you seeing this?

Owner: I... I guess we have more work to do than I thought.

This all takes place in roughly eight seconds. It's terrific.

Overall though, there's little else to say. Past the halfway point, when the show starts to pretend it's a real boy and coughs up that inspirational phlegm about everyone working well together, I usually lose interest and switch off. It's not as insanely ridiculous as Mystery Diners, so there's no melodramatic lobster liberation or wedding cakes being thrown through windows. And without this insanity, they repeat their issues. Expect to see bad managers, bad service, and bad food a lot.

But if Mystery Diners isn't on and you want to space out for the thirty minutes that this show is funny for, and you enjoy the smug self-satisfaction that comes with knowing that there are people dumber than you out there who think that this show is genuine, give it a try.

Just don't let the host catch you in bed with goblins.