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.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bouley Bakery Upstairs: Ewww! You're Joining the Softball Team?

It’s no surprise that the Count alighted on Bouley’s Upstairs in the midst of a staff shakeup. The clown-car atmosphere the Count notes at the restaurant on his visits may be due to these putative scuffles. Complaints included an

“improvisatory, amateurish quality to the service: orders misunderstood, lags before drinks or dishes arrived, no coherent system whatsoever for managing, advising or even greeting diners.”

Maybe the place just hasn’t pulled it together, but isn't that allowed? Upstairs is like a sexed-up, corn-fed hussy on the verge of her 18th birthday, and Bruni is like an itinerant photographer with specious credits and a camera made of bubble gum. In other words, it was the Barely Legal of restaurant reviews, Upstairs having been opened a mere month.

Little newborn Upstairs couldn’t even figure what its opening times were: “None of the employees really knew.” Waiting diners grew anxious: “Mr. Bouley had morphed into a gastronomic Godot.”

Gratuitous diversion: In highschool we were asked to write and perform our own endings to Waiting for Godot and in mine, Escobar and Razzmatazz (or whatevs) had ducked into a shrubbery to have explosive diahhrea when Godot finally showed up, so they missed him. A+, Jules. What a student. Went over great in the auditorium in front of the parents.

This kid played the Diahhrea.

Well, anyway, it turns out that all of Upstairs' shaky service doesn't really count against it: the litany of complaints was a straw horse, a "necessary hedge against what I am nonetheless going to do: make a fervently admiring pitch for Upstairs.”

Some might ask, should a critic really be making pitches for a place? Is that his role? My issue is a little different: as a professional fag hag, I have serious qualms about your engaging in sports, Frank. We’re supposed to be behind the gymnasium chain smoking Marlboro reds together and pelting rocks at anorexics. 'Member?

The quality of the food (the reason for Frank’s fervent pitch) may have to do with the fact that Bouley is there cooking it: “Mr. Bouley, 51, looked at once enchanted and oblivious, a man in thrall to his own muse, which has always nudged him in surprising directions.”

“Thanks a lot, MUSE. Great. Fucking great.”

Apparently, Bouley had much bigger plans for this gastro-complex of his, but circumstances whittled the final product down to something less expansive. The resulting bakery, various food counters and restaurant “are the ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Dream’ outcome, much delayed, much diminished.”

“Wow! Look at the whimsical, industrious chef in my cereal! My gosh is he SEXY!”
"Uhh, I said your mother needs waxing!"

“The restaurant seems less like a coherently planned environment than an accretion of whimsies.”
Well, no one’s perfect. One time I was laughing really hard and I accidentally accreted a whimsy myself. Happens to the best!

The man himself is at the center of the review as much as he is at the center of his restaurant. Frank ends with this anecdote: "Acquaintances chat with Mr. Bouley as he cooks. One night, just before he nonchalantly wandered over and said hello to me, I watched one of those acquaintances grab a clump of herbs from the kitchen and sniff it."

They should talk to Subway about getting one of those Sneeze-Guards, huh? That’s a little too casual, no? What’s next, “I watched a curious child deep fry her ragdoll as her mother fondled the chest cavity of a dead hare.”


Well let's hope David Bouley hasn't totally taken his mind off of his flagship Bouley, accross the street, where I'll be tipping champagne flutes in honor of my mom's 60th birtday tomorrow.

This is us in our living room in New Haven, CT. She's a Finn who straddles creeks hurling spears at errant sea lions, so here's hoping the seafood's up to par. Wish me Bon Apetit! A Mercredi!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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5:19 PM, September 16, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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5:19 PM, September 16, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I imagine you could get a sitcom pilot with a pillory of the bruni diner's journal on Sarabeth. Have at. Please.

10:44 AM, September 17, 2005  

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