Angry Rant From a Californian.

Seriously dude. What the fuck?

Seriously dude. What the fuck?

By Ezra Klein

Bobby Flay stole my jacket. And that’s actually not even the worst of it: He charged me $26 for a fish taco. And that was the lunch price.

The bastard.

Bar Americain is an “American brasserie” that “celebrates the foods of America with a healthy dose of the bold flavors Bobby Flay is most known for.” Or so his flash-based web site — and seriously, what is it with restaurants and Macromedia? –tells us.  You know what else it celebrates? Mark ups. Specifically, on the honored fish taco.

Now, not to go all reverse Ben Adler on you, but I’m a Californian. I know fish tacos. What they cost. How they taste. In my world, fish tacos are plentiful, much like sunshine and tan women and budget deficits. They do not cost $26. Indeed, they so do not cost $26 that I would forgive you for thinking me a liar. Some sort of maniacal Flay-hater out to sully his good name. So here’s the relevant section of the menu:


I. Fucking. Know! As for the fish taco, it was a serviceable piece of snapper next to an unremarkable mound of cole slaw flanked by three stacked tortillas featuring grill marks that promised a crunch they didn’t deliver. There were no sides. And that’s not all: Bar Americain also insisted I never checked my jacket with them. I left my card. This morning, they called over: I had, in fact, left my jacket with them. Their mistake. Would I like to come by restaurant and retrieve it sometime that afternoon? I only mention the jacket experience because it engendered a truly great twitter from ThingsBreak. “Let it go,” he said. “If you get it back, it will probably have corn in the pockets & be inartfully altered to pay homage to breakfast.”


Coincidentally, I flew from New York to Los Angeles on Saturday. Still smarting from my $26 fish taco, I had dinner at Rubio’s. Three fish tacos, all of them better than Flay’s. Plenty of beans and chips and salsa. $9. Cali represent!


22 responses to “Angry Rant From a Californian.

  1. David Helms

    Ouch! What you paid for 3 fish tacos is what I paid for my filet mignon au poivre at Ray’s the Steaks last night.

  2. Ah Rubios. They do a cilantro mayo….but try this next time: equal parts sour cream, yogurt, cilantro. A tablespoon of lime juice for every cup of sour cream/yogurt. Throw it around in a food processor for a few minutes, then let it rest for a few before serving on fish taco.

  3. This may be the first entry in the competition for “Best Blog Entry of 2009.” Can we all say Least. Deserving. Iron. Chef. Ever? Guy makes Michael Symon seem like Alain Ducasse. Though I give Food Network props for that “Throwdown” show — who wouldn’t want to watch Flay get a beatdown from amateur chefs each week? And let it be said that as a Chicagoan, I can attest to the fact that no one outside of California can make a fish taco, just as no one outside of Chicago can make a decent hot dog, and no one outside of New York can make a decent slice of thin crust pizza.

  4. Funny…I was just thinking yesterday about restaurants and their love for Flash. Actually, just about every restaurant website will take you back to 2001: pointless intros and splash screens, music that starts up automatically, unnecessary Flash. And that’s if they even HAVE a website.

  5. Helena Montana

    Fish taco…yuk! Bobby’d have to pay me a hell of a lot more than $26 to EAT one.

  6. Helena – why not try new things? Fish tacos are not what you think they are, I’m betting. I know because I was once like you: imaging a taco bell monstrosity with the ground beef like substance replaced with some ground fish like substance.

    No, no – better than that.

  7. screw bobby flay. what a fratboy.

  8. Great post I am not a fan of Bobby Flake, and I think 26 for a fish taco is crazy. With the blogging world growing by the seconds restaurants need to be on their best behavior.

  9. verplanck colvin

    Well played smackdown, sir.

    I hope someday to make it to the west coast and truly understand the fish taco. In the interim, who has a good recipe for one?

  10. I disdain Bobby Flay because of his habit of dismissing the cuisine of New Orleans. I did surprise myself once by eating at his restaurant in Caesar’s Palace. It was perfectly fine if fairly overpriced.

  11. Bobby Flay stole your jacket, and by the sounds of it, tried to take the shirt off your back, too.

  12. meyer lemon dressing?

    how can we be so sure?
    who’s to say they may not be sneaking a eureka in there?

  13. I used to scoff at the idea of a fish taco, until I tried them, now I’m totally addicted, and I have to say Wahoo’s absolutely has the best ones.

  14. Huh. I like watching Bobby Flay cook… seems pretty good to this amateur’s eye. Though I think the idea of repackaging basic American fare for x3 the price because Bobby Flay told somebody to make it borders on offensive.

  15. Great rant (post)!

    Best fish taco:

    Sunnyside Restaurant, Lake Tahoe, CA

    my wife used to work at Homewood Mtn. back in the day, and this was here regular wed night. We went last year (12 years since she had been there last) and low and behold, they still have fish taco night… and they’re still the best fish tacos, anywhere.

    I took down four with a pint of Fat Tire.

    I’ve been making them at home recently though too, with some great success. Hake works well, as do Halibut and (of course) Pac. Cod; some flour, salt, and a good stout for the batter and the rest is history.

    I noticed some serious price gouging on Fish & Chips out here on the East Coast as well… not sure why anyone thinks it’s okay to charge 14.99+ for beer battered fish and fries… whatever. DIY; it’s always better!

  16. forwearemany

    The fish tacos at Rubios beat a real restaurant’s fish tacos? That’s pretty sad. Also, I would have thought a foodie like you would have gone somewhere else for their first meal back in LA. But hey, every time I go back home I get me some Baja Fresh, so who am I to judge?

  17. Forwearemany:

    There’s a lesson to be learned from that. Fish tacos, much like barbecue sandwiches and po’ boys, are supposed to be a quick, cheap, filling meal. They’re best eaten standing at a counter. If you want fish tacos, stay away from any place with linen and silver… those indicate the wrong mindset for the food you’re about to eat.

  18. I once came across Bobby Flay in a narrow aisle at Whole Foods in NYC. One of us needed to step aside and let the other one through – it was that narrow. I being a woman, kind of expected him, a famous dude, to be a gentleman and step aside. Nope. He barged on through practically running over me. I’ve had a bad taste in my mouth for him ever since. I still enjoy watching Throwdown when nothing else is on though.

  19. good post. good comments. now can we talk about that nineteen dollar cheeseburger?

  20. I have to echo Tim’s comment. I also randomly found myself at Flay’s place in Las Vegas and had a pretty delicious meal (rabbit). Not much opinion of him otherwise.

  21. best fish taco:

    La Sirena Grill, Laguna Beach

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