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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Compass and Cafe Luxembourg: Revenge of the Loser

This week, Frank plays the Chuck Woolery to our blank-faced 33-year-old administrative assistant looking for love.

“My name is Trelizabeth, and while my once-conjoined twin got the brain, I got the SMILE!!!!!!!!!!”

The two bachelors we’re deciding between, Café Luxembourg and Compass, are archetypal, really— Willoughby versus the Colonel, Zach versus Screech— it’s the flashy, popular dude versus the meritorious dork. In many ways, it is the ultimate scenario of high school injustice: says Frank,

“Cafe Luxembourg is the soccer captain to Compass's science club president. It has more sex appeal and an easier time getting dates.”

It’s an interesting comparison. Luxembourg is 22, a young hot athlete...

...while Compass is hindered as much by being a dork as it is by being 4 years old.

Your mold garden's awesome, Gary, but I'm still not going out with you.

After some inevitable Compass language (Lost its way! Back on track!) the Count begins what will be a litany of praise for its food.

“When several friends and I recently had [the skate], the moistness of the fish and the crunchiness of its panko crust played a textural tug of war. Neither side lost, so we won. Entrees arrived, and we were victors again.”

By the time dessert came, Frank and his guests had vanquished the entire place, roping up surviving diners to sell to the Mongols and bundling tableware for booty on their yaks.

“Well, that’s that. Check please?”

"Our lobster, poached in olive oil before being pampered with butter and clementine juice, made a dreamy case for never treating lobster any other way."

Soooooo...does that mean no more accessorizing with it?

Meanwhile, hottie Luxembourg has no idea how to handle fish. Its skate “had been put through uneventful paces - a sizzling encounter with olive oil, a subsequent shower of capers - and had emerged somewhat gummy.”

Well, even if the end result didn’t win Frank over, the “sizzling encounter” and “subsequent shower” sounds sexy, even if it was a caper-shower. Frank is baffled by Luxembourg's appeal:

“The way people push to get in and wait three deep at the bar, you'd think the restaurant's signature yellow tile walls were coated in some sort of culinary pheromone.”

That’s actually not a bad idea. Coat your restaurant walls in men’s Axe deodorant, sit back in a lawn chair with a stop watch and count the seconds until I stumble in, crazed she-wolf hormones squirting out my ears, to hump every last tile. However, is that even necessary? Did the popular jock ever have anything going for him but being a popular jock? Not really. As Frank explains,

“success perpetuates itself, a self-sustaining reality sometimes divorced from the merits, while a history of failure obscures current accomplishments.”

Hence, the popular kid wet-farts his pants in Latin class and he's a hero, but the school dork saves an errant fawn from falling down a well, and everyone ridicules him.

"I guess it’s just you and me, Louise. [sigh] So...can you fit in a prom limo?"

And speaking of deer:

“In the restaurant business, as in so much else, reputations linger and a herd mentality rules. Diners crowd Cafe Luxembourg, which is now 22 years old, in part because they see that it's always crowded. Diners don't rush to Compass, which is not yet 4, because they don't notice any stampede in that direction.”

Let me paraphrase: “People like you and your siblings and parents and the other re-re’s I see pigeon-toeing half-blind into walls, and drooling out the side of their faces, are mindless sheep.”

Yeah, RIGHT, Frank! That is soooo insulting! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy this shithead’s album...

...smoke some cigarettes, and then throw myself off a Swedish cliff.

The Count concludes with a fervent pitch for the dork, encouraging us to see through the “hip” but “sluggish and often distracted” Luxembourg (picture the jock fondling your boob in the front seat of a Firebird while simultaneously flipping through his baseball card album). Its competitor, in contrast, “can't coast on comely pouts and poses.” [aside: Frank + Alliteration = Forever]

But if you didn’t already glance ahead to see that Lux got one star and Compass two, Frank will tell it to you striaight (and by “straight,” I mean with the last installment of an absurdly extended, essay-length metaphor):

“…if Cafe Luxembourg assumes your interest, Compass eagerly pins a corsage on you.”

Well, I guess it's worth a shot.

Right, Melinda?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Posted by Jules at 2:15 AM"?? Lady is ON IT. That is some TUESDAY shit!

10:05 AM, November 23, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anybody else get (on the Times site) that "MOST HELPFUL READER REVIEW" at the bottom of the page, a.k.a. the press release?

I quote in full:

'Some say, "bypass Alain Ducasse, and head straight for Compass!" That is just some of the compliments this "Creative American" menu driven restaurant receives from it's clientele. The environment in which the diner enjoys John Fraser's culinary delights is comfortable and welcoming. From behind the curtains of the private dining room, customers in the dining room can see the silouhette of John moving between stations in the kitchen overseeing every component of his creations come together like the conductor of the New York Philharmonic. A seasonal highlight (August 2005), Heirloom Tomatoes presented three different ways, smoking, spicy and sweet; local Hudson Valley Foie Gras; $32 Prix Fixe and you may choose a wine pairing for an additional $14; Compositions such as Confit of East Coast Halibut, 21 Day Aged Rib Eye, Wild Montauk Striped Bass and Long Island Duck; A "Simply Grilled" section and wonderful sides "To Complete" your meal. Vera Tong, Pastry Chef, creates amazing cheese plates and desserts to bring closure to an incredible experience. Wait for the petit fours and the breakfast treat that awaits you before you disembark from Compass. Get there soon.'

10:08 AM, November 23, 2005  
Blogger Justin Kreutzmann said...

Another fine piece of work Jules. I laughed , I cried, I contacted Chuck Woolery's agent to see if he'd be interested in being a majordomo at new sports bar in San Francisco...Cafe Buxomblonde.

10:57 AM, November 23, 2005  
Blogger SuperAmanda said...

Wonderfully written.
I truly feel that Frank needs his own line of designer lederhosen with which to wear and vend when the stadiums once more rocks with cheers. All our favorite restaurants are just puppet states of his anyway.
And seeing that Frank cum Chuck has sold more albums in Luxembourg than Goebeels and Steve Perry combined (Vichyssoise Republic indeed)we should be seeing him leading the neo retro torch light parade anyday now...

12:05 PM, November 23, 2005  
Blogger Elle Daley said...

Didn't anyone else think it was weird that Bruni called Cafe Lux a "popular soccer star?"

Meaning the rest of the world's food-whores are fighting to bear its children while no one in New York continues to give a rat's?

3:32 PM, November 23, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I held back for as long as I could. But now I have to let it out.

This blog rocks with its cocks out!

5:19 AM, November 24, 2005  
Anonymous yoah said...

hello everyone,

in case you guys don't know, the ugliest dog linked to this blog was dead on last tuesday.......

and for jules langbean...
go girl.....yeah....!!!!!!!!
i have never meet a girl such poisonous, wicked and mean as you..and this is a compliment!!!!!!

i mean how did you get all those imagination, and backed by such an expository picture in just a snap?????

7:08 AM, November 24, 2005  
Anonymous yoah said...

hello everyone,

in case you guys don't know, the ugliest dog, sam, linked to this blog was dead on last tuesday.......

and for jules langbean...
go girl.....yeah....!!!!!!!!
i have never meet a girl such poisonous, wicked and mean as you..and this is a compliment!!!!!!

i mean how did you get all those imagination, and backed by such an expository picture in just a snap?????

will u marry me :)

7:12 AM, November 24, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

You totally called me. 2:15 am is right. I'm alllll about Tuesday nights now.

And yes, I did hear about Sam. Let us all take a moment to be thankful that we were ever graced with the hilarity that was his glaucomic, frightening stare, toxic disposition, and utterly unserciveable mandible. Sam, we hardle knew ye [insert taps].

12:25 PM, November 24, 2005  
Blogger Justin Kreutzmann said...

SAM will live forever in our hearts and night when the scary dreams come.

5:06 PM, November 24, 2005  
Blogger Sam said...

Rumors of my death have been highly exaggerated, my dear.

1:45 PM, November 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These review reviews rock with their cocks out, even though the French Laundry is the only mentioned restaurant I've ever heard of. I'm sad I've already gone through the archives.

I'm also disturbed and frightened at how compelling I find the name Trelizabeth and her smile, which you so cruelly pointed out. Really. Make it stop.

5:00 PM, November 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am totally swept away by your beautiful deconstruction of this pompous fool's prose! My respect for your talent is truly awe-full.

12:42 PM, November 27, 2005  
Anonymous KermitMcDermit said...

You're, like, all hot and stuff... yeah, I just totally hit on that famous blog chick.

I am so totally gonna score.

10:44 PM, November 27, 2005  

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