The Bruni Digest

In which I sit on a dirt mound somewhere in Brooklyn with my ears pricked, waiting for New York Times head restaurant critic Frank Bruni, who I imagine to be a Venetian count in a huge ruffled collar, to dole out stars from the inside breast pocket of his brocaded chamber robe. This blog is predicated on the suggestion that every Wednesday, in the Times Dining Out section, Frank lays a huge faberge egg of hilarity.

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Location: New York, New York, U.S. Outlying Islands

I am fiscally irresponsible, which means I have weak bones and a dorsal fin. And a penchant for dining out, even though I am, in the words of many rich people, a "poor people". I make a different face when speaking each of the foreign languages in which I am shittily proficient.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Brasserio Caviar and Bananas: Ridiculous Restaurant, may I introduce you to Ridiculous Reviewer?

A match made in heaven!! And by match, I mean the kind that you light on fire when you napalm the banyo. Because Brasserio Caviario and Bananeria seems like a self-immolating funhouse, and Francerio Brunissimo is going to get in, get a caipirinha, and get out-- with a barrel of astonishing facts that he can garland with his glittering prose, like a tranny's boa.

Now, this DZ Discovery Zone of a restaurant-- complete with mulitcolored walls and an emphasis on sharing-- is replacing Rocco's, of "The Restaurant" reality TV fame, which Bruni calls an "al dente disaster." It was actually about as "al dente" as a pat of butter stewed in hot acid, but Frank is not a TV critic, so we'll let it pass. Also, I will forgive him anything, with lines like these:

"But chicken was dry. Two kinds of steak met one kind of fate: flavorlessness. Tuna joined them in that ignoble, insipid land."

TUNA, YOU WENT TO ALABAMA? COME BACK FROM ALABAMA, TUNA! What? Zing! No, but seriously folks, Frank literally sat down at his Gutenberg press and arranged the letters to spell out that Tuna was joining steaks in an ignoble land. And my reason for existing is reaffirmed.

This next little citation is fairly remarkable, not for Brunisms as much as for how totally douchy this server at Brasserio obviously is:

"The servers are chat-chat-chatty about all phases and aspects of a meal, from the way to approach the sprawling menu ('it's a share concept') to the use of salt shakers ('tap three times, then throw some over your left shoulder') and the merits of the 'crepe passion' dessert ('it's my personal passion')."

how casual and friendly of you, server! here is your prize:

The money is fake and she's high on synthetic progesterone. Bon apetit.

At the end of the piece, though, Frank's conclusion is what Paul Revere would have dubbed "wicked smaaht":

"Crazy as it sounds, pizza is what Caviar & Banana does best...Mr. Chodorow turned all the way from Europe to South America for a fresh start, but he's back in the mozzarella again."

OH SNAP. OH DAMN. He said it. Where's the naked chick with the long hair who has four of herself in the car with her?? Cause for real, this is ironic.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Eleven Madison: Franklock Holmes is on the Case

There's no crime, there's no Scotland Yard, and there's conspicuously little need for a review; but Frank Bruni has decided to snoop around Eleven Madison with a magnifying glass and his trusty plume.

Eleven Madison is one of the notches in star restaurateur Danny Meyers' belt, a seven-year-old marble notch, whereas everyone in the world is much more interested in the trompe-l'oeil cubist notch painted on his belt, the Modern, which opened recently in the new MoMA. Well, maybe Bruni is siding with those who believe newborn babies shouldn't be slapped around, and is waiting for the Modern to grow up a little. Meanwhile, we visit its older sister Eleven Madison, who basically got safely out of the nest, went to a decent Ivy and married a banker, so it's fair to publish in the Times that she's popular and pretty, but kind of a bore.

For those of you out there that think that food reviewing is all amuse-bouches and croquette parfaits, wake up and smell the gunsmoke. Just as it is Fox 5's duty to park undercover cameras in the shower rooms at Equinox to show that bacteria is indeed growing, so the burdens of service journalism fall upon our hero. The question echoes throughout the shag-carpeted dens of a thousand American homes: "IS THE RECEPTIONIST AT ELEVEN MADISON COURTEOUS???????" With some effort, Frank tucks his ruffled Shakespearean collar under a trench coat and picks up the phone in his apartment: "Always using pseudonyms, I repeatedly called to adjust the size of my group or the time of our arrival." I wonder if he repeatedly called in different accents and vocal registers, as I have been forced to do, by shame, upon calling Crif Dogs too many times in a night. Well, no matter, the gavel has fallen, and it has not hit anyone in the head: "Not once did I encounter the kind of huffiness that restaurants as busy as this one often project."

Well, that rat that you smelled, Frank, was it your burlap hosiery beginning to rot, or have you carefully built up a middling-to-confident veneer of praise only to tear it down upon closer inspection and -- GASP! -- find the food "unremarkable" and "poorly executed"? The latter, mmyof course. "Although the dining room is flooded with those smiling servers, their dance is less a ballet than a military drill, glaringly mechanized. They scoop horseradish creme fraiche onto braised short ribs as if spackling walls."

Which reminds me of the time I DID spackle my walls with horseradish, with the door closed, and went temporarily blind.

Amazingly, "unremarkable," "poorly executed," "tasted like day old pot roast," "dry," and "glaringly mechanized" do not "rise to the level of a complaint." A complaint is when Frank herring-smacks your sister and calls you a fag. This is "more of a rumination": "You can hone fine dining into a science but you may lose out on some of the art."

ART? ART? DID SOMEONE SAY ART? Watch out, Modern, you're growing older every day...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Duane Park Cafe

This week, Signore Franco whips a burlap cape over his visage, ducks out of the spotlit scene, and sits on a dusty Tribeca stoop, playing an adagio on a tiny, wooden flute. No more midriffs and models! the gimmicky meatpacking district has exhausted Frank, and this week, he kicks it humbler a notch, revealing a "moral message" behind Duane Park Cafe's anonymity: "the way it fades into the woodwork of New York was illustrative and instructive," which is [huge sound of gong banging] obviously redundant. To translate Bruni's final thoughts into my own vernacular, basically it's effing sick how psyched we should be to live in a town where a decent and pretty creative place like this has about as much appeal as Bea Arthur naked on a bed of thumbtacks. In service of this point, cruel, burdened New York Times standard-bearer Bruni must beat the solicitous Duane Park Cafe off his ankle and let the ragged wretch go, like Kate Winslet snapping Leo's corpscicle off her log shard at the end of Titanic: Duane Park's survival "says as much about how lucky we are as how limited this restaurant is." Limited, and one star [affectionate wave as Duane Park floats, frigid, to the bottom of the sea.]

Amazing Brunisms of the Week:

-"That venison was infused with a blackberry tea that conspired with the overcooked meat to turn the dish into a murky, gummy gastronomic apocalypse." hm, what's this in my hotel drawer? Oh it's Gideon Yago's journal. Oh, no wait a minute, it's a Gideon's bible. Someone left their notes in the margin, in what looks like 16th century nib scribble: it reads "Aha! Yes! I will use this theme! By my coxcombs, you are a genius, Frank."


Vapidity and Aridity? Jesus. Thats the verbal equivalent of sicking two rabid identical twin dachshunds on to that tuna. To. The. Quick.

I miss Twinkletoes P. Indulgence and his band of revelrous adverbs. Frank reminds me why I'm so lucky to live in a city where homeless rats poop on my stove and a pack of Gummi-Savers can cost me a Jackson, but nevertheless I hope that next week Frank will pirouette into Versailles or a sugar factory, something rarefied and naughty, with his notebook in his tights and his secretly reasonable, democratic streak safely hidden behind his mascara.

Monday, February 14, 2005

[sigh] waiting for Wednesday

I wonder what lexical bathhouse cabaret Frank Bruni will perform for us this week. Remember when he wrote about Lure Fishbar and every sentence had a nautical metaphor? I'm not a real journalist, so I'm not going to research this, but I will paraphrase it as "this restaurant, skippered by a wench named Rita, should hammer down the nannygig and set the blarny a-blow before the boom swings port and the mast goes stern." OK he didn't say that. But there were MANY nautical metaphors.

This is what he looks like in my head:

This is me, ol' Jules:

See you on Wednesday I guess.