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

What I find most interesting about BruniBlog, however, is the slew popular commentary that always follows, especially after posts that speak toward reservation/seating policies, portion sizing, pricing etc.  In each instance there nearly always exists an underswell of completely irrational rhetoric that classifies restaurants of merit as elitist or pretentious or gives diners carte blanche to do whatever they so desire because they are paying for a meal (and I don't mean order alcohol).

That drives me fucking crazy. Just complete batshit crazy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I find most interesting about BruniBlog, however, is the slew popular commentary that always follows, especially after posts that speak toward reservation/seating policies, portion sizing, pricing etc.  In each instance there nearly always exists an underswell of completely irrational rhetoric that classifies restaurants of merit as elitist or pretentious or gives diners carte blanche to do whatever they so desire because they are paying for a meal (and I don't mean order alcohol).

. . . . .

There's a reason I post on eG.

And there's a reason why I usually don't read the comments on the BruniBlog. It's just not worth sifting through all the dreck to find the occasional insightful observation.

In contrast, you have to go through some effort to join the eGullet Society before you can post here. It's not an onerous effort, but it's just enough to keep out a lot of the casual commenters who appear on a site like the BruniBlog.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What really gets me about that kind of commentator on the BruniBlog is that their sense of self-worth must be so fragile, if it's so easily rattled. Like, "If I'm paying for dinner, how DARE Sapora d'Istria (sp?) make me buy bottled water at a cheap price rather than serving me tap water?" Like, "For $400 a meal, how DARE Per Se be hard to get a reservation at?" I mean, if you take everything as a slight . . . .

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

But then there is the occasional voice of reason:
As I already noted, folks, you have a high ISO, no flash mode in your camera. Find it and learn how to turn it on.

I’m paying just as much money as you and your self-entitled fat rear-end doesn’t give you the right to interfere with my meal.

As for newspaper and publicity photographs — if they’re of a dining room filled with patrons they are shot without flash. If flash is used, they are shot before or after-hours, never when customers are actually there.

There's a reason I post on eG.

The author of that voice of reason post is "Nathan." Same Nathan?

Show of hands -- how many of us have posted comments on Diner's Journal? I'm sure I've seen some of eGullet's members on there.

"If the Palace dinner had cost $15 a person, it would be worth three stars. At $65 , one star is about all we can muster." Mimi Sheraton, 4/22/77

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

Does Bruni ever respond directly to the comments (I don't mean referring to them in subsequent blog entries)?

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

See to me that just seems to be in the opposite of the blogging spirit. I guess the fear is that if he responded then too many people would pester him.

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

Although it appears that our Nathan is apprehensive to stake claim to those posts explicitly, part of the reason I chose to include that one is because I thought that it was him.

In fact, the rare instances I find myself agreeing with posts they're usually by "Nathan" or "Sneakeater." Go figure. Hence the, "why I post on eG" remark I made before.

I for one have never posted there but only read the comments for comic relief.

Bruni does respond to general comments/themes in later posts but doesn't do so in the "comments" section itself. I will continue to post my favorites if people need a good laugh.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I have posted comments on the BruniBlog occasionally, but in general I find slogging through them tedious.

As far as I know, Bruni has never responded within the comments, and I don't really expect him to. An entry in the main blog is far more likely to be widely read, and getting read is Bruni's raison d'etre.

A few times he has gone back and revised a post based on what people said (only if the original post was erroneous or unclear). And of course, sometimes later blog posts refer to comments on earlier ones.

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

On the Gordon Ramsay thread, Nathan wrote:

We all know Frank Bruni likes to take away at least one star for anything French and likes to add at least one star for anything Italian. BTW - I ate at Babbo too when Batali wasn't in the kitchen - and I was one of the first people here to say that the food was (overall) mediocre.

Babbo is not mediocre...and certainly deserving of its three stars.

Bruni does have an Italian bias (I ate at A Voce last night and couldn't make up my mind if it was a three star restaurant or not...it's close but maybe not quite). But he gave four stars to JG, which is contemporary French and four stars to LB, which is French. He also gave four stars to Per Se, which is definitely French-inspired. He's given three stars to Picholine and Atelier. Neither of those are four-star restaurants so he hardly knocked them down.

So I disagree that "everyone knows", I certainly don't.

As I noted in my reply there, a bias is merely an inclination. It doesn't mean he is completely unable ever to give a favorable review to a French restaurant.

There are currently five 4-star NYT restaurants. Bruni demoted two French restaurants, replacing them with a French-inspired (Per Se) and a Japanese (Masa). I suppose he could have demoted JG and LB, and failed to award four stars to Per Se. That would have left only Daniel and Masa, which wouldn't really be credible. You can't have the 4-star category practically empty.

Daniel could be hanging by a thread. In December 2004, this is what he wrote in a Diner's Journal piece about Café Boulud:

I dropped by Cafe Boulud the other night. I went because I had recently visited the chef Daniel Boulud's other two Manhattan restaurants but not this one, which happens to be many of my acquaintances' hands-down favorite of the three. I can see why. It doesn't have the starched self-consciousness of Daniel or the cheeky swagger of DB Bistro Moderne.
That reference to "starched self-consciousness" is vintage Bruni, and could well find a home in one of his patented smackdown reviews. I am not predicting that Daniel will get smacked down, only that it isn't beyond the realm of possibility. It is the only remaining four-star venue that he hasn't reviewed. Edited by oakapple (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bruni just announced on his blog that Waverly Inn will be reviewed this Wednesday.  To my knowledge, he's never made this kind of advance announcement, but there it is.

He has done it before, though not often. Those few occasions it has happened, I think mentioned it on the Tuesday, rather than the Monday.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Times aricle below:

" http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/24/dining/2...dpc&oref=slogin "

“A Chef,

seems to be a divine being,

who… from the depths of his kitchen rules the human race.

One can consider him a minister of heaven,

because his kitchen is a temple and his stoves are the altar”

Desaugiers

Peter
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm. I found it snotty and wildly overstated. A couple of mentions of exceptions to Bruni's Rule would have given his complaints a lot more weight. A little less of Bruni's generalizations, and a little more stuff like Thomas Keller hoisted by his own petard (comparing a five-course tasting menu to just going to one act of a play? Ridiculous! Just present a masterful one-act, please, for those of us with smaller appetites who burn out after four or five courses anyway. Then I can come back and try more).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I take back everything I've said about him. I NOW LOVE FRANK BRUNI :smile: . My husband - who usually doesn't even read the Dining Out section - laughed out loud - and insisted I read the article before I even had my morning coffee.

In particular - I appreciate his criticism of the ubiquitous "tasting menu" and the difficulty involved in dining at many places during what many think are normal dining hours. Guess he has to do it - it's his job. On my part - I don't think I'll ever eat a tasting menu at 5 pm again.

One thing I think he overlooked in the article is that it's much easier and cost-effective for a restaurant to prepare a smaller number of dishes (many of which can be made in advance) for a known number of diners than it is to give diners options. 100 diners - 100 identical meals - no waste. How will chefs ever learn to make soup or other interesting things with yesterday's leftovers?

Thank you thank you Frank Bruni for taking the bully pulpit and saying loudly what most of us can only whisper. I live in northeast Florida - and - if you're ever in this neck of the woods - email me and I will take you to dinner at a very good restaurant where you can dine at 8 and actually choose what you'd like to eat. Robyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Times aricle below:

          " http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/24/dining/2...dpc&oref=slogin "

“A Chef,

seems to be a divine being,

who… from the depths of his kitchen rules the human race.

One can consider him a minister of heaven,

because his kitchen is a temple and his stoves are the altar”

                                                                                                  Desaugiers

It is difficult to comprehend how a restaurant critic for the NYT could display such total ignorance of the restaurant industry, even total ignorance of what it means to dine in a restaurant. But our man is up to the task. I shouldn't be surprised given his long history of pseudo-populist drivel about the poor plight of the restaurant critic in NYC, forever besieged by chefs who serve classic French food that he can't understand, servers who trouble him by describing the dishes and menus that dare to credit the artisanal suppliers who provided the raw materials. Also, it appears that our man took an incomplete in Marketing 101 since he is shocked by the presence of cookbooks in restaurants as well.

It may come as a shock to Frank, but some of us choose restaurants and tasting menus precisely because we wish to sample the cuisine of a particular chef working at the highest artistic level. We want to eat their food. Apparently Frank would prefer to be able to stroll into any restaurant he likes on a given evening and eat what he feels like eating instead, served the way he personally likes to be served. I would suggest that a better option for him would be to stay home and make his own dinner, an act of journalistic altruism that will never be forgotten, unlike his reviews.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, Joe, but I loved the article too. I don't think Mr. Bruni is ignorant of marketing or the restaurant industry.

Really, haven't you ever banged your head on your desk when confronted with the list of rules and regulations when you make a reservation? You have to take notes to make sure you get it all straight.

Or not being able to order an appetizer at the bar? We are not taking about Alinea here, where the dining is so unique that you must surrender to the chef's will.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those "artisan purveyors" - well they're basically mass market for high end restaurants. E.g., when I ate at Per Se - it touted its duck from Stone Church Farm. This is the list of that "artisan producer's" clients:

Aix

Nice Matin

Orsay

Craft

Jean Georges

Jean Georges "Perry St."

W.D. 50

Prune

Tasting Room

Il Buco

5 Points

Savoy

Tabla

Gramercy Tavern

Veritas

Tocqueville

Picholine

Cafe des Artistes

La Grenouille

One By Land Two If By Sea

Sumile

Le Gigot

Cafe Loup

Blue Hill

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Per Se

Cafe Grey

Daniel

Cafe Boloud

Le Bec Fin

Inn at Little Washington

Mas Farmhouse

Fiamma Osteria

Brasserie J.J. Rachaou

Brasserie Julien

Eli's

Vinegar Factory

L'Absinthe

Paris Commune

Wheatley Hotel

Cru

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, Joe, but I loved the article too. I don't think Mr. Bruni is ignorant of marketing or the restaurant industry.

  Really, haven't you ever banged your head on your desk when confronted with the list of rules and regulations when you make a reservation? You have to take notes to make sure you get it all straight.

  Or not being able to order an appetizer at the bar? We are not taking about Alinea here, where the dining is so unique that you must surrender to the chef's will.

How about not being able to get a drink at the bar? If you are a lucky soul like me with a 5:00 (or maybe it was 5:30) first seating at Per Se - those giant restaurant doors are locked and do not open until 5:00 - when the flock of well-dressed diners assembled outside the giant doors are herded in and seated. If you happen to show up 15 minutes early - too bad if you'd like to sit down and order a drink in the bar while you're waiting. Robyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

JFK once famously described Washington DC as a city of "Northern hospitality and southern efficiency." It sounds like our restaurant industry has at least become a little more southern, hospitality-wise, than New York's.

Though I have had enough run-ins with restaurant staff and general pomposity to find the article pretty funny. I remember one waiter at a fine Italian place here who clearly implied that the chef himself had caught that nights branzino (-ini?) with his own bare hands, and later sized us up for many seconds as though determining if we were worthy of the cheese course. And a good friend just complained that a beloved half-'hood, half-fine dining restaurant had gone all-tasting, all the time, food was taken in hushed, worshipful silence, and the waiter had used a Louisville Slugger as a suppository.

Maybe, once again, DC is following New York's culinary lead.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, Joe, but I loved the article too. I don't think Mr. Bruni is ignorant of marketing or the restaurant industry.

  Really, haven't you ever banged your head on your desk when confronted with the list of rules and regulations when you make a reservation? You have to take notes to make sure you get it all straight.

  Or not being able to order an appetizer at the bar? We are not taking about Alinea here, where the dining is so unique that you must surrender to the chef's will.

Come now, is it really that difficult to make a reservation in the Open Table era? Even when calling, I have never had to do more than write down a # and time to confirm.

I will say that opening the reservation book only thirty to sixty days in advance is a major pain in the ass, especially for travelers.

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...