This could be my favorite episode of this series. I've always been a sucker for the ones set in the US, and this one doesn't disappoint. Tony's at his best. He's sarcastic and snarky, and yet at the same time highly appreciative of the hard work and common man. He's equally at home at a late night soul food diner and Michael Symon's upscale fine dining restaurant.
Speaking of Michael Symon, I actually like him here. I watched the Nest Iron Chef and was never really a fan. But, here he's engaging. Frankly, I like him better knowing he's friends with Tony. (Although his whole Iron Chef win falls under suspicion since Ruhlman was one of the judges of that debacle).
Ruhlman is Ruhlman. The perfect foil for Tony. I wish he would guest more often. He holds his own in the kitchen, and he stands up to Tony while still allowing Tony to be the star. It's obvious the two are friends and that relationship makes us, as an audience, appreciate their interaction for what it is.
There are awkward moments in the episode. While I liked Harvey Pekar's drawings, I thought the segment he narrated was forced. Tony's meeting with Marky Ramone felt weird and forced. But the awkward moments are still endearing. Even the moment where Tony discovers that Pekar is a vegetarian comes across great on camera.
It's nice to see Tony back in the kitchen as well.
Overall: I wish every episode was this perfect.