My experience at a kitchen nightmare

Reanna Comiso, Features Editor

A few weeks ago, I was able to live out a personal dream of mine when I received the chance to dine at a restaurant in New Orleans called Oceana Grill. While many would question the importance of a typical seafood restaurant on the southern coast, fans of Gordon Ramsay would understand what makes this restaurant a must-visit.

As many know, Ramsay is the outspoken, profanity-filled celebrity chef who we all know and love. Not only is he an award-winning chef, he also has a talent for creating some of the most entertaining reality television shows out there.

Being best known as being the face of the reality competition series “Hell’s Kitchen,” Ramsay is also the star of Kitchen Nightmares, a show where he visits failing restaurants in an attempt to turn their subpar ways into quality and success.

Oceana Grill is one of the few restaurants from “Kitchen Nightmares” still open for business years after Ramsay attempted to change the staff’s failing ways. Seven years after the episode aired, the business is receiving positive reviews from customers. Considering that 60 percent of all restaurants featured on Kitchen Nightmares ended up shutting down, according to Business Insider, this is an impressive achievement.

For those who have never seen an episode of “Kitchen Nightmares,” a typical episode of “Kitchen Nightmares” involves Ramsay ordering the “best” thing on the menu, complaining about food for the entirety of the meal and then meeting the owners to discuss everything wrong with their restaurant, which is usually met with backlash and denial. From there, Ramsay takes on the tedious task of completely reworking and refurbishing the restaurant, while occasionally yelling, throwing various kitchen utensils and arguing with the restaurant staff along the way.

The Oceana episode of “Kitchen Nightmares is one of the most popular from the series, due to the hot-tempered ownership, arrogant head chef and a kitchen that is one of the worst Ramsay has seen on the show. Unsurprisingly, the episode included various yelling fits, brotherly arguing and silly insults directed at Ramsay.

While I could have chosen any place to eat in New Orleans, when I found out I had the chance to visit a restaurant that, even for one second, had a Ramsay stamp of approval, I knew it was the only viable choice during my short stay in the town.

The restaurant was comfortable while still fitting the New Orleans atmosphere. It was small and quaint, like most places in the French Quarter, due to the unusual architecture. Based on what was seen on “Kitchen Nightmares”, it seemed to be more crowded than what viewers saw seven years ago. The service was very quick and friendly from beginning to end. The staff was kind, helpful and polite, which was also a change from what viewers got a glimpse of in the episode. It was an enjoyable experience as I waited for what mattered most: the food.

I ordered a blackened chicken po-boy, a Louisiana staple. While I thought the food was very good, I did think the price of $13 for what was ultimately a chicken sandwich with fries was a bit expensive. The portion size was fairly large, though, justifying the price.

While I cannot make a claim on how the food tasted before Ramsay had made his mark on the restaurant or compare it to my experience, I did enjoy my meal. I will admit, though, that I could have gotten something very similar closer to home, potentially for a better price. If I were to go back, I would make an effort to order something exclusive to the New Orleans style.

While Oceana Grill brands themselves as being the “best restaurant in New Orleans,” which is something I doubt is true, I would still recommend this restaurant to others who are looking for something casual and laid-back. This is especially the place to go if you are a fan of Gordon Ramsay. More than anything, it was a “bucket-list” experience and enjoyable.