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 02, 2005

Thor: Literally Run by Arnold Shwarzenegger

Usually the Count, trained in the infamously razor-witted journalistico-priestly salons of Berlusconi-era Rome, has a firm grasp on subtle humor. But this week, Frank is taking everything literally, in an autistic Amelia Bedelia way:

“ONE of the waitresses fancies herself a futurist.

‘This is going to be the salmon lasagna,’ she said as she set down a pasta dish, her verb tense suggesting that the salmon or the noodles - or both - were something else for the time being.”

Is that really what she was suggesting? Or was she just using douchey waiter parlance? For example, it took me a while to realize that when a waiter says “My name is Jimothy and I’m ‘unna be taking care of you all tonight,” it doesn’t mean that he will escort your party home, wrap you in afghans and massage your corns with Vaseline. Silly Frank! He keeps interpreting everything literally...

“With the delivery of another dish came the saying of another sooth: ‘This is going to be the gnocchi.’ We stared at it, primed to witness some kind of transformation.”

Did you, though? Did you all stare at the gnocchi, waiting for it to do something magic?

The waiter then turned a deck of cards into an extremely gay hand pose. Ta da!

“One of the waiters longs to be the host of a quiz show.

‘Any questions about the menu? he asked some friends of mine. When they said no, he challenged them.

‘Really? they recalled his saying. ‘O.K.: what are cèpes?’”

But can you blame the waiter? After the Count’s table pointed at a dish of gnocchi and clamored WHEN WILL IT TURN INTO GNOCCHI?!! YAAAAY MAGIC TRICK!! YAAAY!, he probably thinks Frank’s party is a reunion of the original Awakenings patients.

What’s my name? Where am I? I’m feeling so flirty! What’s gnocci? Yaaaay!

The literalism doesn’t end there, though:
“Thor isn't a brave, arcane voyage into the uncharted waters of Viking cuisine. The name of the restaurant has nothing to do with the Norse god of thunder, whom it evokes only incidentally.”

REALLY? The Norse God of Thunder isn’t, like, an investor? Does the restaurant not serve EVISCERATED OSTROGOTH VILLAGER?? I’m sooooo disappointed! Wait wait wait…so you’re telling me…that the name THOR is FIGURATIVE???? That is really misleading.

“What I really wanted was an upscale place that could cater to the Lower East Side sophisticates while accommodating the lightening bolt attached to my penis.”


“Thor is the theater for an unlikely marriage of the…clangorous dining scene.. of the Lower East Side - and a classically trained Austrian chef, Kurt Gutenbrunner, whose temperament is quieter and more conventional."

Sounds like a sit com: Fastidious Old-World Chef gets dumped in Eccentric Urban Hipster Paradise, like classy Mister Belvedere rolling his eyes at the elaborately washed denims and hilariously exposed muffs of 1980’s teenagers.

Kurt learns to loosen up by episode 8, when he bonds with a tranny, does a heap of Tina and wakes up spooning a pheasant in the walk-in.

Who needs Marketing? Frank already wrote the tag line for the show:
“while that union plays out in awkward ways” (cut to Gutenbrunner getting beaten by cops)… “it doesn't ultimately foil Mr. Gutenbrunner's best efforts and ideas.” (Cue jazzy CHIPS music while Gutenbrunner hi-fives bloody tranny.)

Victory over Frank's visual impression is a whole nother matter:
“Much about the restaurant certainly erects hurdles for Mr. Gutenbrunner's food to overcome.”
When Frank hates the décor, it can translate into serious Bruni demerits. In other words, this could be a MAJOR erection for Gutenbrunner to surmount.

“The dining room's black and white wallpaper calls to mind tiles, at times confronting you with the unappetizing illusion of being on the floor of a very tall bathroom or at the bottom of a very deep pool.” Or both, if you are a midget taking a dump in a flooded Moorish bell-tower.

Aside from a few such qualms, the décor doesn’t end up doing Thor in. Will Frank’s second pet peeve, the catering to carb-phobic dieters, be Thor’s undoing?

“And so, of course, there was a raw fish appetizer, hamachi in this case. But Mr. Gutenbrunner thwarted expectations by presenting it in big, meaty cubes instead of little fingers or thin sheets.”

Little fingers and thin sheets? Nasty. Sounds more like an ad for a Philippino sex vacation than for a well-executed appetizer. That aside, this technique pleased the Count:

“In doing so he lent satisfying heft to a dish that might otherwise have skewed toward dainty.” Frank HATES dainty things.

For example, he chose to have his tutu made of industrial burlap.

You know when you’re watching a movie or something, and you’re totally on board with it, and then all of a sudden Claire Danes is naked on her stomach and Steve Martin is caressing her buttcrack lazily with one finger and you’re like “WHAT BEAT DID I MISS? This makes no sense!!!” and then Tony Scott gives it a rave review and you feel physically violated by what you assume to be a media conspiracy?

My point is, THIS was a superfluous bit of metaphor, no?

“[Gutenbrunner] told me in a telephone conversation that he considered Thor the culinary equivalent of a chance to move from orchestral music to rock 'n' roll.

His version of rock is more Eagles than Franz Ferdinand. With the exception of a few showy riffs like a white tomato mousse…, he constructed relatively safe melodies. And several dishes, including a roasted veal loin with pumpkin, carrots and apples, could have used more percussion.”

Thor's cooks arrange their mis-en-place while tooting out the Scorpions "Winds of Change."

There was a small snafu at dessert: “a multilayered confection that reinterpreted a Snickers bar did exquisite justice to its muse. If only its consumption hadn't been so perilous, and I refer not to weight gain but to clothing stain.”
Frank left Thor with an acute case of choco-crotch. Let's just hope he was wearing something brown!

22 Comments:

Blogger happy-go paradeboy said...

sadly, no visogoths, svartálfar, or raven lovin', one-eyed willeys to join in our pan-Manhattan, all-out restaurant rumble. I'm hoping some repressed Northern European sous of Kurt's will come out to the roof of the Rivington and blow his or her horn of battle.
on other notes, easy guess on the crystal tower. He can look across the street and down 4 floors to see me.

1:09 PM, November 02, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

Aha! So YOU'RE the hobo that bathes in the fountain!

1:15 PM, November 02, 2005  
Blogger happy-go paradeboy said...

I consider it performance art and not pornography. I man's gotta pay the rent. And it pays more than what I make in the kitchens.

1:46 PM, November 02, 2005  
Blogger Michelle Collins said...

"Kurt learns to loosen up by episode 8, when he bonds with a tranny, does a heap of Tina and wakes up spooning a pheasant in the walk-in."

I read that in your British accent. "Duz ay fez-ant een thuh wooooolk-eeeeen." I think this actually WAS an episode of Cackbladder.

2:07 PM, November 02, 2005  
Blogger Michelle Collins said...

ALSO OMG. I ALSO GOT A SHIT-SMEARED STAIN ON MY WHITE CORDS FROM THE SNICKERS AT THOR. LANG? JON? BACK ME UP ON THIS.

I had to take a cab home - it was soooo sheistermovie.

2:09 PM, November 02, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hilarious and TIMELY for a change. Sounds like dude made it too easy for you though. He thought he was "on the floor of a very tall bathroom," crapped his tunic, and plamed it on the chocolate dessert?!

3:59 PM, November 02, 2005  
Anonymous Kate said...

Jul, I just caught myself up on your blog and THANK GOD for your humor. Miss you dude! I also think you should take my friend date advice and ask the Count to dinner. Why not?

11:51 PM, November 07, 2005  
Anonymous WILLIAM OF WALES said...

GET A MOTHAFUCKING LIFE YAH UGLY WHITE DORK YAH, TO ME YOU RESEMBLE AN ASS SNIFFING FREAK ! HEY NO OFFENSE FREE CUNTRY RIGHT?

12:23 PM, November 12, 2005  
Blogger Heartwing said...

Just stumbled across your blog and find it brilliant! You've made me feel inspired to mock the pompous as well...or to have a good meal. We'll see how my day plays out. Meanwhile, keep the faith....we all know the Emperor is naked…!

12:26 PM, November 12, 2005  
Blogger Russ said...

Unfortunately for the Count, this day coincided with his attempt to blend seamlessly into american culture, and so he came fully decked out in a linen, all-white "Colonel Sanders" ensemble, replete with bowtie and hand fan, which left a posessed choco-crotch so evil that even a lightning bolt from the korean drycleaners next door couldn't exorcise...

12:26 PM, November 12, 2005  
Blogger Heartwing said...

Hey look Jules...you got hate mail from one of the members of the "ALL CAPS shouting illiterate masses"! Baby you're gonna be a star!:)

12:42 PM, November 12, 2005  
Anonymous Tom said...

I thought this site would be funny. Very disappointing. Could have been a hit but your wanna-be Manhattan wit is just too cheeky. Never a clear joke. Always posing as an intellectual for the sake of trying to come off intellectual. To each his own.

4:07 PM, November 12, 2005  
Blogger Houston St. said...

This is like the Starbucks yuppies taking over Saturday Night Live. You guys aren't ready for prime time either.

12:01 AM, November 13, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ANOTHER PSEUDO INTELLECT LOSER.

This woman like all bloggers is an unemployed
loser with little intellectual skills but
unending belief in her intelligence. Like
most bloggers, she can't find suitable employment so she creates a useless and

childish byline because of her need for
attention. She knows nothing of food and
has little of importance to say, thus
she is compelled to lampoon a genuine
food critic to bring him down to her
level to compensate for her personal
failures...

2:41 AM, November 13, 2005  
Anonymous Colin Wright said...

Always mildly interesting to see what's going on on Planet New York. Do I want to move there? No...

1:14 PM, November 13, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very funny stuff. Keep fighting the good fight. HOOK EM HORNS!

1:18 PM, November 13, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

funniest line:

...She knows nothing of food.

1:23 PM, November 13, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow what childish critiques by people who know so little about the blogger.

"she is compelled to lampoon a genuine food critic to bring him down to her level to compensate for her personal failures..."

perhaps she is compelled to lampoon a supposed food critic for the sake of humor. are you not familiar with satire? sarcasm? irony? do you have a sense of humor at all? what exactly is it that she must prove to you, as you act the hypocrite and attack her for WHAT? her personal failures??? at 24??? who exactly are you to judge? how is it you feel you know her so well to make such judgements?

not to mention in addition to that, you extend your assumption in a belief that she is trying to compensate for something. considering the maturity of your attacks i find this especially amusing -
"childish byline because of her need for attention."

have you no dignity?

1:44 PM, November 13, 2005  
Blogger Pip Harper said...

I was all excited about the 92 comments which I didn't bother to read (I mean, there are a lot of them) then I read these ones... People are gay. The book deal will come, no worries. Controversy is intrigue, and both sell. I don't care what Britney says, K-Fed will totally sell his album, and you have food knowledge, that I know, so all is well.

4:56 AM, November 14, 2005  
Blogger isabelita said...

Say, that photo of "Thor" resembles the actor who plays Sawyer in the TV show,"Lost." Perhaps in his earlier, hungrier days...
Madamoiselle, you are deliciously hilarious, with more than a soupcon of searing wit! Carry on, and to enfer and the spit with your illiterate critics.

6:49 PM, November 15, 2005  
Anonymous dave said...

1) Bruni made up the thing about the waitress saying ‘This is going to be the gnocchi.’ It didn't happen, she said something similiar and he reworded it to be funny. "Funny"

2) The implied incompetence or glibness of the waitstaff (or at least the implication that the service was the worst part of the meal) resulted in no small amount of grief for the servers at Thor. So about 60% of them quit. Thanks, Bruni - stick with the facts next time, please?

3) Kurt is a misogynistic tyrant and Thor can't hold a staff. The restaurant will fold in a year.

10:21 AM, December 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How dare you Dave, Kurt rocks...

8:33 PM, January 18, 2006  

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