food reviews san francisco

Check, Please / Behind the music (and wine)

I always meant to write about my close encounter with pub­lic tele­vi­sion fame — the only kind that's worth pur­su­ing, if you ask me — but some­how I got way­laid by sum­mer­time, its var­i­ous par­ties and good ol times. But I've got a sec, so I should just spill it before the good times take hold again.

Check Please - Sitting at the tableTime spent comb­ing hair: zero min­utes. Time spent iron­ing shirt: zero min­utes. Num­ber of heart attacks my mom would have if she saw this: count­less.

Check, Please! Bay Area is a restau­rant review show on our local pub­lic tele­vi­sion sta­tion, KQED Chan­nel 9 (what!). On each show, three Bay Area res­i­dents sit around a table and dis­cuss their thoughts and feel­ings about three local restau­rants. At the begin­ning of the process, each per­son gets to choose a favorite1 restau­rant; then, each par­tic­i­pant goes to all three restau­rants; THEN, every­one assem­bles at KQED stu­dios to dis­cuss them in front real TV cameras.

So, yeah, it all started back in June.

Mara and I were at Pauline's Piz­za, eat­ing din­ner with some friends when we saw Leslie Sbroc­co, the host of Check Please. We're Check Please super­fans, so we couldn't resist the urge to approach Leslie and creep her out with our exten­sive knowl­edge of the show. Lat­er, Leslie and her din­ing com­pan­ion (who turned out the be the pro­duc­er) stopped by our table and asked us to apply to be on the show. Some­how, I was the one who applied, even though Mara would have been 10 times bet­ter. Some­how, I was accept­ed, for rea­sons that are still unclear to me.As I men­tioned in the foot­note, I chose a taco truck as my favorite restau­rant, and this was a slight — SLIGHT — depar­ture from those cho­sen by my cohorts — a fan­cy Noe Val­ley bistro, and a clas­sic Finan­cial Dis­trict steak­house. There­fore, my entire prepa­ra­tion for the show involve craft­ing argu­ments about why they need­ed to give the taco truck anoth­er try. "The ecol­o­gy of taque­rias is rich and diverse," I would instruct them; "each one has its own spe­cial­ty, a thing it does bet­ter than all oth­ers, and it takes time to ful­ly explore this rich­ness." (Any­way, you can read more of this BS in my review on KQED's website).Turns out, my cohorts loved the taco truck. I was speech­less, real­ly. I had noth­ing pro­duc­tive to say to peo­ple who agreed with me. It could have been the wine. (IT'S REAL, by the way). And I drank too much of it, too much for a non-wine drinker, too much for 11am on a week­day (when we taped it), too much to gen­er­ate extem­po­ra­ne­ous bon mots wor­thy of PUBLIC TV. If you're curi­ous about what the blo­gos­phere had to say about my taco truck rec­om­men­da­tion, you need only get a load of this review from a guy named Ely, also from KQED's site: 

Dont eat from El Tonayense, I had a beef bur­ri­to that made me sick! The meat was too oily and mix in with fat­ty fat peices. The bur­ri­to was tiny and the ingri­di­ents had lit­tle favor.

My bad.1 Check Please kin­da repeat­ed­ly implies that each restau­rant reviewed is the "favorite" restau­rant of the per­son who sug­gest­ed it. I chose a taco truck.