by Nick Birgis
Nestled in Bushwick between a vintage hat shop and a rundown laundromat sits Kän E Ball; the newest venture from celebrity chef and restauranteur Fle Sheater. It is one of the many cannibal dining options one might find in the area, as this faction of the culinary sector has boomed in the last few years. I ate there rather late last Tuesday night and was surprised to see droves of patrons gathered tightly in the foyer. As Kän E Ball does not accept reservations, some of them have been waiting for hours, but there was not a single sour expression amongst them. Of course, that’s only because they hadn’t yet tried the food.
The atmosphere, not unlike his previous establishments, was dimly lit and wholly unwelcoming. The prices teetered past exorbitant, and the cuisine was a complete and utter abomination. Therefore, dear reader, I must insist if you’re looking to feast on some high-quality human to go elsewhere!
This “dining collective” as he calls it, is a scam in every conceivable manner. The meat is billed as farm to table but anyone who’s followed Fle Sheater’s career knows his farm suppliers notoriously cage their livestock and shoot them full of Big Macs, sugary sodas, and growth hormones. And for the record, this unnamed mystery supplier is not a “quaint ranch tucked away in a valley just outside the city,” as he loves to remark on his Food Network show, Man vs. Man—it’s in Newark.
The actual menu at Kän E Ball, if you could even call it that, is laughable. With only two entrées, it’s more akin to a Post-it. Your options are a red wine braised short rib and a Mediterranean roasted leg of man. Leg of man, what is this 1988? Also calling it roasted is a misnomer, the correct descriptor is burnt. As for the short rib, I’m not sure what I detested more, the abhorrent mouth feel, or the way it was apparently drowned in a poorly reduced bottle of Two Buck Chuck?
Perhaps you’re reading this and you’re a sophisticated diner who knows it’s fairly common for bipedal restaurants to offer small menus so you’re not troubled by this information. After all, you walked in with the sole intention of ordering their catch of the day. I might say that is some very astute thinking, but regrettably, Kän E Ball must not have only missed this memo but incinerated it to smithereens.
Their catch of the day, if you could believe it, was a lowly brisket made from the third alternate on the ‘96 Olympic swim team. I couldn’t bite through my gentleman’s abs and he hasn’t competed in decades! Not to mention the presentation was ghastly. The meat tossed with reckless abandon onto my plate over a medley of bland asparagus and boiled potatoes. Truly a slap in the face to any patron whose palate has progressed past SpaghettiOs.
Is it so much to ask that a place of this supposed stature offer up a filet man-gnon? Or better yet, for the unconscionable prices they’re charging, give me a damn winter Olympian! Serve me a cut from a robust curler, something tender but with rich marbling. I could get a far better meal for a third of the price over at Ca Dav Ur, the remarkable brainchild of chef Ana Tomy. She’s a real risk-taker who’s not afraid to use bold flavors to create something special. Don’t believe me? Try the split penis soup. You’re welcome.
I’ve been in this business long enough to know that some people are simply incapable of change. And while Fle Sheater may think himself a culinary deity, fit to sit amongst the same pantheon of chefs as Gordon Mansy and Body Flay, the sad truth is he’d be lucky to have half the talent of one Guy Fieri.
For this reason, I will no longer be wasting my time indulging chef Fle Sheater on this or any other future “dining collectives” that he half-heartedly concocts down the road. But if the unthinkable should happen and I do find myself in one again someday, with any luck it’ll be because I’m the catch of the day.