On "No Reservations" Anthony Bourdain travels, sometimes to dangerous locations, he eats things occasionally that belong on "Fear Factor" more than on a food/travel show, and he narrates. His voice-overs and speech are a bit educational but also clever and easy to listen to. He speaks like a writer as much as a chef, and after reading his book "Kitchen Confidential," it was easy for me to see that his abilities as an author rival his as a chef. This show is not the cuddly, family-friendly fare you find on the Food Network (not that there's anything family-unfriendly about it), and I think Anthony would be thankful that a bit of prickliness comes through in the finished product.
I feel like this show misses some its potential audience because it is not on the Food Network. But in many ways, it is the "anti-Food Network" show. Food Network is a celebrity factory, taking several names from obscurity to household names, including Rachel Ray, Alton Brown, Mario Batali and Giada De Laurentiis. Anthony Bourdain eschews these celebrity chef icons, and has an edge that the Disney-like characters that the Food Network invents lack. There is something a bit edgy and distinctively adult about "No Reservations" which I enjoy. He seems to see a lot of parallels between cooking and rock 'n roll, and he sees depravities in himself that he doesn't share with the audience.
This show really is a travel show more than a cooking show, although food is definitely the star. There is not a lot of focus on food preparation, and there aren't any recipes you can replicate at home. There is a lot of travel, a lot of scenes from the street and dark restaurants, and a lot of scenery. Unlike every show I've seen Giada in, Anthony doesn't spend 2/3 of each episode taking a bite something and saying "Hmmmmmmmmmm" for the next five minutes. For this, I am grateful.
A great show, about food/travel, with some cleverness you'll enjoy thrown in.