On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Riel chef-owner Ryan Lachine makes his triumphant return to the podcast. It's been almost two years since Lachaine appeared on the show's sixth episode; if he was nervous back then, he isn't this time. The chef isn't afraid to work blue by dropping a few F-bombs throughout the conversation.
Sandler begins by asking Lachaine about the changes at Riel since opening. For example, Riel's opening sous chef E.J. Miller now leads the kitchen at International Smoke; Lachaine discusses the challenge of finding a good team of cooks who can work together to execute his food. They also touch on the wild story ESPN 97.5 host Lance Zierlein told about an intoxicated customer who was arrested at Riel.
Is the chef starting to think about opening another place that might be more casual than Riel? "We've talked about things like that and other stuff that we throw around. If I cook with someone or I eat at another restaurant, you get inspired by something. You want to do that," Lachaine says "You're always looking to do something new, but I want to get Riel pumping to where I think it's 100-percent. We're not there yet."
Prior to Lachaine joining the show, Sandler and co-host Mary Clarkson of Avondale Food & Wine discuss the news of the week. Their topics include Ronnie Killen's collaboration with Papa John's and the details surrounding Bellaire Food Street, a new group of restaurants coming to Chinatown later this year. Based on her frequent visits to St. Roch Market in New Orleans, Clarkson expresses optimism about Politan Row, the food hall coming to Rice Village from the same ownership group. In the restaurant of the week segment, the duo share some first impressions of Sorriso Modern Italian Kitchen, a new restaurant in The Woodlands.