No Reservations is an hour long celebration of the off-beat cuisine of places you've never been but would like to go to…usually. This installment offered us a view into Romania, courtesy of the one, the only, Anthony Bourdain. A frequent author but a full-time cook no longer, Bourdain has delighted himself for years in being shuttled around by various TV networks to some of the most remote places on the Earth to sample their foods, smoke a lot of cigarettes and drink a lot of beer, most of the time involving the slaughter of a pig (captured on camera for posterity).
This time Tony found himself in Romania, home of the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler's (aka Dracula) former home, and if you believe what this episode provided, not much else.
Tony was being ferried around by a Russian friend of his named Zamir, who if you're familiar with the show, you'll remember him from the Russian and Uzbekistan episodes, which ended up with Tony being re-arranged by a hairy and monstrous Uzbek masseuse and drinking as much vodka as humanly possible while in Russia.
If we are to believe in what we are shown of Romania, it still retains the mood of Eastern Europe during the cold war. The architecture is somewhat dreary and the food didn't seem inspired. Sure, Tony found some street eats that are usually the best to be found anyway, but everything I saw I remembered seeing in other episodes. There was nothing groundbreaking here, and Zamir was drunk as a skunk for the entire duration and proved to be somewhat distracting.
The focus was not on the food for this one, perhaps because there wasn't anything to focus on, but Tony tried to compensate by heading into the cultural side of things, attending a Halloween party, a theme restaurant and Dracula's castle as well as his usual foray into the local bar scene. The locals seemed nice, if not particularly interesting, but I don't blame them, they are what they are.
We were also treated to the obligatory pig slaughter scene, which has proved to be a staple for No Reservations recently. I would say they are getting repetitive but I'd be lying. Each butcher has a different style and concerned with different parts of the porcine fellow, and this time the butcher's son was the star. He was extremely creepy when captured on camera and his evil smirks will stay with me for…a few more minutes.
Was this an episode that I would recommend to a first time viewer? Not a chance. Is this still a series that is relevant to people interested in food and culture and want that reported to them by a loudmouth ex-chef who cares little for what other people think of him, then give No Reservations another shot. Let's just make believe this one never happened. Deal?