Top Chef Season 8 Episode 7: Now With The Daily Sip’s Eric Arnold for Extra Flavor

Top Chef Season 8 Episode 7 Tiffany Top Chef Season 8 Episode 7: Now With The Daily Sips Eric Arnold for Extra Flavor
"Somebody get a sponge."

This week, OT’s usual commentators on the most recent edition of Top Chef – Caroline Potter and Ed Cotton — are both out of town. So I’ve been asked to step in and take over for the next two weeks. Normally, I’m the editor of The Daily Sip, a free, wine-centric e-newsletter; and you can usually find me waxing about the wines of New Zealand–and other booze-related topics–herehere, and here.

Each season of Top Chef, we’re expected to look forward to Restaurant Wars, when the remaining contestants are split into two groups that square off in a battle of pop-up restaurants. It’s also usually the episode in which an otherwise strong contestant is shown the door because he or she ran the front of the house like it’s the DMV.

Some Restaurant Wars battles have been better than others, and this one, unfortunately, belongs in the scrap heap. For starters, the contestants weren’t put under nearly as much pressure as in previous seasons: No shopping for flatware, dishware, curtains or scented candles — just cooking. While one could argue that this levels the playing field, it really didn’t last night because someone still had to run the front of the house and, potentially, sacrifice food quality. And truth be told, last night’s Top Chef proved beyond doubt that the contestants will make or break themselves in the kitchen all on their own, no matter the challenge. So why not just keep them all in the kitchen?

Nevertheless, therein lies Top Chef‘s strength as a series: It’s the little things, from sliced fingers to stolen fishes to drunken kisses, that evoke an emotional response from viewers one minute to the next. I had plenty last night, in fact. Here they are, in order from last night:

* Ah, the brief recap — and yes, what fond memories we have of Jamie finally being sent packing last week. Oh, snap: Tonight’s episode starts at Le Bernadin?! Oh man, what I’d have given to see her survive another week and return to the scene of her braised-celery crime. Oh well.

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Dining Poll: Should Restaurants Call to Confirm Your Reservations?

From time to time, we hear from diners (mostly on Twitter) who aren’t that thrilled when restaurants call to confirm a restaurant reservation. While every restaurant sets its own policy about reservation confirmations, we’re curious how you feel. Weigh in on this hot topic today!

Tuesday Spotlights: Save 50% in NY + LA + SF Today; Preview Tomorrow’s Offers

Belvedere Spotlight Tuesday Spotlights: Save 50% in NY + LA + SF Today; Preview Tomorrows Offers
The Belvedere in LA serves up scrumptious scallops and mussels.

Today’s Spotlight offers have turned on. You can save 50% at The Belvedere in Los AngelesKlee Brasserie in New York, and La Boheme in San Francisco. Tomorrow, we’ve got six more Spotlight deals sure to whet your appetite. Can you guess the participating restaurants from the hints below?

Atlanta: This popular Vinings restaurant offers top quality steaks, seafood, and classic American steakhouse cuisine.

Boston: Voted Boston’s “Best Clam Chowder,” this Back Bay favorite serves award-winning sustainable seafood with classic New England flavor.

Chicago: Set in picturesque Lake Forest, this charming bistro overlooks Market Square from the second floor of a historic brick building.

Denver: Specializing in seafood and grilled meats, this Washington Park restaurant boasts a friendly, nautical-inspired atmosphere and an always-fresh raw bar.

Philadelphia: This restaurant and wine bar in the heart of Ambler is dedicated to serving fresh, sustainable dishes with produce from their own organic garden.

Washington, D.C.: Indulge in purr-fect, delectable French fare at this stylish Friendship Heights bistro, or sip a casual glass of wine in the upstairs wine lounge.

Check back this evening for the big reveal — and on Thursday for more ways to save in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.

Washington DC Restaurant Week: Tips from DC Cheap Eats Examiner L. Denise

DC Winter Restaurant Week 2011 Washington DC Restaurant Week: Tips from DC Cheap Eats Examiner L. DeniseEven if the cold and snow have you feeling down in D.C., surely Washington, DC Winter Restaurant Week, which just began, can turn your outlook around. If you’re new to the DC dining scene or just curious as to where your fellow foodies will be dining during this this wondrous week, wonder no more. We’ll be sharing some expert advice over the course of the event. Today, DC Cheap Eats Examiner L. Denise shares her insider insights.

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Take Our Quick OpenTable Valentine’s Day Survey: Your Opinion Counts!

ValDay20111 Take Our Quick OpenTable Valentines Day Survey: Your Opinion Counts!Valentine’s Day is to dining out what New Year’s Eve is to drinking — Champagne, or anything else for that matter. As you may imagine, then, it’s been on our minds for quite some time. Even if it’s not yet on yours or you haven’t already made your reservations, we’d love your opinion on a few fun topics, including which celebrity you’d most like to dine with (if your s.o. weren’t available that evening, naturally).

Click here to take the OpenTable Valentine’s Day survey now!

Top Chef Season 8 Episode 6: Catch and Release

jamie Top Chef Season 8 Episode 6: Catch and Release
Sad she couldn't cook with scallops, Jamie hides her teary eyes and, let's face it, feelings from teammate Tiffani.

Last night’s episode of Top Chef lacked a QFC — but it did deliver a double elimination. We checked in with Ed Cotton, Executive Chef at Plein Sud and one-time bee in Angelo’s bonnet, for his thoughts on what proved to be the deadliest catch for two cheftestants.

Thinking back to last week’s EC and this week’s intro, do you think Dale really only cooked 8 plates? Or 20? Or not nearly enough, as is being implied in this ep’s opener? Is Marcel way off base here? Can you — wait, strike that — SHOULD you win the challenge without fulfilling all the obligations of said challenge?

I’m not sure how many plates Dale served; I’m sure he made the proper amount. You always have to make the amount or you are in automatic danger of going home. Maybe he skimped a bit, but whatever he did the judges enjoyed — and that’s what counts. Marcel could be upset with him for a number of different reasons; when you’re in the kitchen and you see someone doing something that you think is shady and then that person wins, you’re going to get pissed. I really don’t know what happened in the kitchen and can’t say Dale cheated or Dale did this or that. So, if he won, he won.

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Get Clued In: Secret Spotlight Hints Are Live for This Week’s Offers

The clever scribes on the OpenTable Spotlight team are at it again. They’ve rounded up a bunch of clues — along with some hunger-inducing photos — to help you figure out where our Spotlight will enable you to save. Offers arrive in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco on Tuesday, while Atlanta, Boston/New England, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. will be available for purchase on Wednesday. And, just like last week, tune in for a bonus round of offers on Thursday.

Use these clues and droolworthy pics to help make your best guesses, on the OpenTable Spotlight boards or on Facebook!

Atlanta: Chicken

Picture 1 of 6

Can you guess which Atlanta restaurant serves this chicken dish?

Atlanta: Family owned and operated, this beloved steakhouse beckons one and all to come enjoy the best steaks in Decatur.

Boston/New England: Set along Rhode Island’s stunning Providence Riverwalk, this popular restaurant serves world-class global cuisine to locals and visitors alike.

Chicago: Enjoy the warm atmosphere at this French gastro bistro on North Lincoln Avenue. Named in honor of the owner’s two children, this eatery blends contemporary French cuisine with an accessible American sensibility.

Denver: Enjoy gourmet grill fare at this Washington Park hotspot. Be sure to stop by on a Thursday or Saturday to enjoy the live music and vibrant crowd!

Los Angeles: Serving up group friendly tapas-style dishes, this Santa Monica restaurant creates a perfect fusion of East and West in every bite!

New York: Sip Merlot and people-watch at this award-winning international wine bar and American bistro in Midtown.

Philadelphia: A charming wine bar in Wilmington, Delaware, this eatery serves delectable small plates to pair with over 425 wines and 100-plus craft beers.

San Francisco: This historic restaurant in San Francisco’s Little Italy proudly holds the title of “Oldest Italian Restaurant in America.”

Washington, D.C.: A vibrant downtown eatery, this French-influenced café is the perfect escape from DC’s bustling business district restaurants.

Top Chef Season 8 Episode 5: Taken Down in Chinatown

Top Chef Season 8 Episode 5 Tom and Padma Top Chef Season 8 Episode 5: Taken Down in Chinatown
"There's a prison joke in there somewhere," says Tom of Padma's silly shirt.

In the most entertaining ep yet of this season’s Top Chef, the competitors take on Tom Colicchio in the Quick Fire Challenge and get a bit of Shanghai surprise  down in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Ed Cotton, a season 7 finalist and executive chef at Plein Sud, weighs in on Tom Colicchio and dim sum.

The QFC brings out Tom Colicchio. Can you talk a bit about Tom? He seems very affable and cool, but when he’s got his judge’s hat on — or his chef jacket — he’s quite intimidating. And, what did you think of his speed?

I have always thought that Chef Tom Colicchio is one of the greats. I’ve been eating his food for years — even before living in New York. Chef Colicchio knows great flavors and has great technique. He is a cool guy and very down to earth, but VERY intimidating. He has built an extremely successful empire and runs his kitchens very well. In this episode, it was refreshing to see him cook and rock it out! He showed everyone that just because he is a judge doesn’t mean he can’t hang. He managed his time efficiently and had a plan. I think everyone was very impressed by his timing; I certainly was. Continue reading…