Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Bruni and Beyond: NYC Reviewing (2007)


slkinsey
 Share

Recommended Posts

Admin: An archive of "Bruni and Beyond" discussion from 2004 may be found here, discussion from 2005 may be found here, and an archive of 2006 discussion may be found here.

I thought I'd kick off the new year with a new Bruni and Beyond thread. Have at it! :smile:

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Resultion - this will be the last year for this topic.

That's right: Rich will be Bruni's successor, and the topic next year will be "Schulhoff and Beyond: NYC Reviewing (2008)."

Don't wish that on me. I wouldn't wish that I my worst enemy. :laugh:

On the other hand, the next reviewer will have an easy act to follow.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd have liked to know in what way Mai House "works better than" Centrico.

Again, that's the kind of remark you can get away with without any supporting explanation as an amateur on the internet, but which just seems useless in a professional review.

(Especially given the odd amount of negative commentary about Mai House's food -- which even Bruni acknowledges at the end of his review. It's like, that's a one-star, this is a two-star, and I'm not going to tell you why.)

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

is it just me or does the Mai House review read like a one-star review.

there are dishes that Bruni liked very much but plenty (double the number at RTR) that he didn't like at all.

As Fat Guy pointed out after the RTR room review, there isn't a formula where you plug in the number of dishes the critic didn't like, and the number of stars pops out.

It must be noted that Mai House is a considerably less expensive restaurant than the Russian Tea Room, and at Mai House he had no complaints about the service. Also, the negatives are not severe: "didn't measure up"; "lobster took too retiring a role"; desserts were "a letdown." I'm pretty sure you could easily find other two-star reviews from Bruni with similar comments. For restaurants at lower price points, two stars means, "If you order the dishes I liked, you'll have a terrific time."

Mind you, I'm not saying Bruni's ratings are the ones I would have given. For the record, I gave Mai House two stars on my blog, but I haven't dined at RTR. I am only pointing out that your method of analysis—counting the number of negative comments and trying to relate them formulaically to the rating—isn't the way it works.

As for Little Owl, that review never made sense to me. But nothing good can come from picking out Bruni's worst reviews, and then holding him to that standard.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As Fat Guy pointed out after the RTR room review, there isn't a formula where you plug in the number of dishes the critic didn't like, and the number of stars pops out.

Right. In general no critic thinks that way, and specifically Bruni is on record saying that he evaluates the experience as a whole and awards stars based on his level of enthusiasm for the place. We won't get far trying to make the stars fit a formula that the person awarding them doesn't use.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

" I am only pointing out that your method of analysis—counting the number of negative comments and trying to relate them formulaically to the rating—isn't the way it works."

I have never made that my methodology. It only comes up because of the beyond bizarre fixation that some people had in reading the RTR review where one stray line "not a few" is obviated by the rest of the review. Some people persisted in asserting that RTR would have gotten only a star for the food, even with perfect service. Thus noting that many two star restaurants (let alone one star!) have far more negative dishes commented on is a tangible, albeit crude way of belying this argument.

as for Little Owl, its better than more than half of the restaurants with two stars -- from any Times critic. (and praised highly by virtually every professional critic -- if they're all completely wrong, at some point I might wonder why they're getting paid and I'm not). actually, it's damn good.

Edited by Nathan (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

" I am only pointing out that your method of analysis—counting the number of negative comments and trying to relate them formulaically to the rating—isn't the way it works."

I have never made that my methodology.

Perhaps I did not understand your earlier post. You said that the review read like one star. As evidence for this, you compared the number of dishes the critic did not like to another one-star review, namely the Russian Tea Room. What FG and I are saying is that it doesn't work that way, and never did—even before Bruni was the critic. The review is quite consistent with any number of occasions that he has awarded two stars.
It only comes up because of the beyond bizarre fixation that some people had in reading the RTR review where one stray line "not a few" is obviated by the rest of the review.
What you need to bear in mind, in relation to Bruni's other "smackdown" reviews, is that when prices are as high as at RTR, "not a few" is a very significant criticism. It is not a mere throwaway.
as for Little Owl, its better than more than half of the restaurants with two stars -- from any Times critic.  (and praised highly by virtually every professional critic  -- if they're all completely wrong, at some point I might wonder why they're getting paid and I'm not).  actually, it's damn good.

I was not at all suggesting that Little Owl is not good. Remember, the meaning of one star is "good." Edited by oakapple (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

so long as more than half of the restaurants with two stars (from any Times critic) are worse restaurants than Little Owl, it deserves two stars. if your argument is that too many restaurants have two stars -- I agree...but that problem long predates Bruni.

(and for any Times reviewer to counter the actual norm today would do a massive disservice to restauranteurs)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"The review is quite consistent with any number of occasions that he has awarded two stars."

no, it reads more negatively than the majority of his two-star reviews. and it reads a lot like his one-star reviews.

I threw in the number of negative dishes because it is unusual for Bruni to mention that many in a two-star review (except when smacking a restaurant with four star aspirations -- are you asserting that the Mai House review should be compared to the Gilt and Modern reviews?)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't been to Mai House, and so I don't mean this question as a challenge, but only to clarify for myself.

Are you saying, oakapple, that in your star universe, Mai House is a star better than Little Owl?  Why?

At the outset, let me say that I've visited each restaurant only once. I thought that Little Owl was doing a very good job of pretty basic things. Bruni noted that about 1/3rd of the diners order just one thing—the pork chop. It's indeed great, but we tried two different appetizers, finding them merely competent. There is nothing particularly inviting about the space. Tables are both small and cramped. Or as Bruni himself said, "The Little Owl’s reach is modest and its limitations real."

I found the cuisine at Mai House more complex, innovative, refreshing and unique, and the space is quite a bit more enjoyable.

so long as more than half of the restaurants with two stars (from any Times critic) are worse restaurants than Little Owl, it deserves two stars.

It's unprovable, of course, but I don't think that is even close to being the case.
It reads more negatively than the majority of his two-star reviews.  and it reads a lot like his one-star reviews.
Here's one example:
It's possible to take an unpersuasive journey through this narrative, because Spigolo's dishes aren't uniformly terrific. I recall an excessively sauced saltimbocca-like breast of veal, a somewhat dry red snapper, and a loin of lamb sliced into such thin ribbons that it surrendered much of its meaty appeal, becoming something daintier and droopier in the process. I remember an insufficiently thick risotto that came close to impersonating soup (and not even bisque at that).
Are you asserting that the Mai House review should be compared to the Gilt and Modern reviews?)

No, I don't. As long as the same rating is being used for smackdowns and positive reviews, you need to consider them separately. You need to compare Mai House to reviews of comparable establishments. Edited by oakapple (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is talk on two other boards that the NY Times will do a split review of The Modern and EMP this week. The majority of people think EMP will get four. I think that highly unlikely.

It's doubtful EMP would get four since the Times chief restaurant critic wouldn't do a "split" review for a four-star restaurant. My guess is both get three, which is an upgrade for both (I think) since their last review. There would be no point in re-reviewing The Modern and keep it at two stars.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is talk on two other boards that the NY Times will do a split review of The Modern and EMP this week.
Do you have links?
The majority of people think EMP will get four. I think that highly unlikely.

It's doubtful EMP would get four since the Times chief restaurant critic wouldn't do a "split" review for a four-star restaurant. My guess is both get three, which is an upgrade for both (I think) since their last review. There would be no point in re-reviewing The Modern and keep it at two stars.

That's correct: at the moment, both are sitting at two stars. Upgrading them to three stars would give Bruni a chance to correct two of his most egregious errors in one stroke. And a trivia note: it would also be Bruni's first re-review of restaurants where the previous reviews were his, and not another critic's.

I can also see a scenario where EMP gets three, but The Modern remains at two. I recall a comment from Bruni long after his original review, suggesting he had revisited The Modern and remained unimpressed. A double re-review leaving both at two would seem to be pointless.

I'll repeat here a comment I made previously. New York Times critics can make or break reputations with their four-star reviews. Bruni gave four stars to Per Se and Masa, but both were clones of west coast restaurants whose reputations long predated him. His other four-star reviews have either been smackdowns (Ducasse, Bouley) or the confirmation of existing ratings (JG, LeB). Two and a half years into his tenure, Bruni has got to be itching to pull the trigger.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Upgrading them to three stars would give Bruni a chance to correct two of his most egregious errors in one stroke."

I can see the argument for one error. What was the second? Although I had excellent lunches there, dinner at EMP pre-Humm was quite underwhelming.

"Two and a half years into his tenure, Bruni has got to be itching to pull the trigger."

There is Ramsay. Well, that's a clone, sort of, as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Upgrading them to three stars would give Bruni a chance to correct two of his most egregious errors in one stroke."

I can see the argument for one error.  What was the second?  Although I had excellent lunches there, dinner at EMP pre-Humm was quite underwhelming.

I thought EMP deserved three even pre-Humm, but perhaps I'm exaggerating — if it was an error, it wasn't egregious.
"Two and a half years into his tenure, Bruni has got to be itching to pull the trigger."

There is Ramsay.  Well, that's a clone, sort of, as well.

Agreed, and besides that, most of the reports I'm reading suggest that Ramsay won't get four.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Without question, EMP will get 3 stars, though I think the food is at a 4 star level. It probably literally deserves 3 1/2 stars but they don't give 1/2's I don't think (I seem to recall Amanda Hesser did this once, but we won't digress on her).

The Modern?? Well, it probably deserves 2.5 in my book, so we'll see what Bruni will do. But it can't compare to EMP, IMHO.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I thought EMP deserved three even pre-Humm, but perhaps I'm exaggerating — if it was an error, it wasn't egregious."

Fair enough. I thought it was a two-star restaurant but could see how someone could like it more than me. If we agree that it wasn't a travesty for it to have had two....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...