Crosscutting between the creme de la creme of Gotham restaurateurs at their swanky four-star eateries and two guys from the Midwest with little money and no restaurant experience struggling to open a bistro in Brooklyn, “Eat This New York” is a study in contrasts and an insider view of what it takes to have culinary success in the Big Apple. Novel high/low-end structuring principle, however, palls before the much-delayed payoff of the bistro’s grand opening. Plus, the interim spectacle of gastronomical celebs discoursing on their humble beginnings may be an acquired taste. Still, the docu, serving up interesting insights into the unique restaurant culture of NYC, should prove appetizing in urban venues and fit right into food-friendly cable.
The Who’s Who of haute cuisine schmooze at award ceremonies at the Plaza as the kind of chronological time-line graph generally accorded to royal succession is superimposed over their photo op. While the Epicurean elite debates the relative merits of hands-on involvement versus a well-trained staff, aspirants Billy Phelps and John McCormick give “hands on” a new meaning — cooking over a Sterno while mixing cement in the rain, their bistro launch receding further and further into the future as their wherewithal dwindles.
Phelps’ and McCormick’s friendship starts to unravel as they strive to build the kind of quasi-Parisian cafe they first dreamed of back in their hometown of St. Paul. Certainly nothing could be farther from Minnesota or from Paris than the debris-strewn hole-in-the-wall location they’ve chosen in the downscale Williamsburg area of Brooklyn at the intersection of two very different ethnicities, Hassidic Jews and Puerto Rican and Dominican Latinos, neither of which would be caught dead in their chic bistro. However, in the convoluted logic behind the notion of an “in” place to go, the exotic locale might just be a plus, making Phelps and McCormick far-sighted pioneers in uncharted waters. Pic ends with a full house.