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.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Spotted Pig: When Metaphors for Fat Men are Totally Disgusting, Part 1

With the first and last journalistic feather I will ever earn proudly jammed into my skull (I don’t wear caps) after a tipster from East Coast Grill got in touch with me, I can sit back and muse at what an awesome Brunami this week’s Dining Section was.

Between hawking pickles at unknowing Bostonians and elbowing his way to tables at the Spotted Pig, Frank has done a lot of waiting this week, and my, has it paid off! Frank’s “My Week as a Waiter” is the Times’ most e-mailed story right now, and while it wasn’t exactly revelatory—apparently these “restaurants” have secret “code numbers” for every table!—it was cheeky, risqué, and tarte flambee all at the same time. J’adore.

But let’s not let all this incognito pickle-hurling (reminds me of sophomore year!) distract us from what was actually very enlightening: “Stuffed Pork,” Frank’s visit to the white-hot Spotted Pig.

He starts out playing dumb: “In just one example of my lidless optimism and bottomless foolishness, I recently visited the Spotted Pig on a Friday night at about 7:30, not exactly an off hour.”


Bottomless foolishness happens to the best of us, Frank!

Facing a 2-hour wait that night, “I took a pass, because I had this thing called hunger gnawing at me, and vowed to be cleverer about my next Pigward journey.”
At least it wasn’t "this thing called 'badger'" gnawing at you.

I'm just trying to look on the bright side here.

And while in a few pargraphs, Frank will praise the distinctive and fresh English-Italian fare, his scant one star boils down to this: “The Spotted Pig may well be Manhattan's most unforgiving, uncomfortable trough, the gastropub as gastromelee.”

It’s a classic story, really— the place is too hot for its own good, like the cheerleader who’s so hot, she’s pregnant. Being cool can back fire, and cause that particular hate-nausea you can’t help feeling for, say, innocent thrillers about evil papal sects, or convenient little shearling after-surf booties.


I don't often say this about myself, but this image makes me "gun-hungry."

“So the Pig” – Frank’s on a species-name basis with the place—“inevitably, has porked up.” If you thought the Spotted Pig’s recent addition of an upstairs, doubling its capacity from 50 stupid twats to 110 stupid twats, would ease the wait time, you’re wrong: “the waits at dinnertime are as long, and the crowds as dense, as ever.”


Avril Lavigne waited for a table for about 200 years.

The Count has a saucy suggestion: “The Pig should give you more than a menu. It should hand out a special Kama Sutra on the contortions necessary to get to and from your seat.”


Like a child from the liquor cabinet, I should be kept vigilantly away from imaging programs.

"April Bloomfield, the chef and a principal owner, favors smoked things, cured things, rich things and salty things."

In other words, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is really her ideal entree.

The shaved white truffles are a nice addition.

More revelations: how did the Pig get its name?

"[Part-owner Ken Friedman] said he liked the sound of the Spotted Pig and considered it an allusion to one of his advisers and investors, Mario Batali."

Oh no...

"'He's got freckles,' Mr. Friedman said. 'That's on the record.'"

Interesting? Yes. NAST? for sure. Whereas you may have previously thought of the Spotted Pig as a charming little Briticism, like “spotty dick” or “marmite,” you can now sleep in a cold layer of sweat knowing it refers to the extensive, dappled tarp of pallor covering Mario Batali’s body. Nightmare on West 11th Street, roll credits.

So Bruni's conclusion? Aside from the famous gnudi and a good burger, the food cedes center stage repeatedly to the overwhelming hassle of trying to basically exist at the Pig.

“If you're intent on going at a normal dinner hour, do a searing personal inventory of the sturdiness of various body parts.”

Uh, how personal? Like 'Hey Karen, didja bring your huuuge vagina tonight, we're gonna be waiting around a lot'?

Well, actually, pretty personal...

The count asks, “Bladder strong? The line for the small unisex bathroom downstairs can be long. But it can also be interesting.”

How so? Old people makin' doodies en route?

“Two young, pretty women entered the bathroom together. And stayed for a bit.
While they were in there, a server and I exchanged amused glances, and my weariness with so much standing and waiting went away.”

There’s nothing like the warm, mirthful glance exchanged by server and diner over hot chicks doing blow in the bathroom. Am I wrong here? Or were they lezzies?

"With its festive spirit and with the best of its food, the Pig can make that happen.”

Make what happen? Marching powder or impromptu mid-meal sapphic breakdowns? Well, I'm not into coke but if you've got anti-naked-image-of-freckly-mario-on-a-platter-with-an-apple-in-his-mouth pills, I'll take a generous handful.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need to thank you for forever changing the way I read the New York Times dining section. I was so excited when I read about his sexy bathroom adventure. I couldn't wait to see how you were going to deal with that and you didn't dissapoint.

9:37 PM, January 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken Friedman = crushed under Batali's enormous freckled hogfist.

11:38 AM, January 27, 2006  
Blogger arnheim Lieber said...

Hey! you! wise ass! Get away from that imaging program! Can't you see your making a mess!!??!Ohh wait... Hey there..thats kinda cute!

5:13 PM, January 27, 2006  
Anonymous Plainsman said...

Good stuff this week.

Couple thoughts. First, this is three perfect comic sentences in a row:

It’s a classic story, really— the place is too hot for its own good, like the cheerleader who’s so hot, she’s pregnant. Being cool can back fire, and cause that particular hate-nausea you can’t help feeling for, say, innocent thrillers about evil papal sects, or convenient little shearling after-surf booties.

[pic]

I don't often say this about myself, but this image makes me "gun-hungry."


Second, word up on this:

There’s nothing like the warm, mirthful glance exchanged by server and diner over hot chicks doing blow in the bathroom. Am I wrong here? Or were they lezzies?

No, exactly. Bruni thinks they were making out, or anyway he thinks we'll think they were, the doofus, but in fact we all realized they were doing lines.

7:55 PM, January 27, 2006  
Blogger Justin Kreutzmann said...

4 star. another fine insight into the mystical pigawful world of Bruni.

5:39 PM, January 28, 2006  
Blogger Jules said...

Yeah, in rereading it, it must have been coke and not an impromptu midprandial potty hookup. Or maybe they were that kind of kindergarten girl-best-friends duo that share toilet seats.

10:30 AM, January 30, 2006  
Anonymous Melissa Gay said...

Woman, you must be a Google Image Goddess. How do you manage to find these images that make your already-hilarious text a veritable gastromelee of Bruni blithesomeness?

6:03 PM, January 30, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great take on bruni's butchering of the pig -- a 2 star review but just 1 star. i wonder if friedman & batali are still such great pals..

9:37 AM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doing lines is so 80's. Doesn't everyone know it's supposed to be smack pre-dining and crystal post.

3:14 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friedman himself is known as a bit of a blowhound who likes to call his dealer on a restaurant's payphone and have his coke delivered to his barstool. Those chicks were probably on their way to mandatory staff meal.

10:27 AM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't find "My week as a waiter" on the NY Times website. Does anyone know where I can read it?

7:25 PM, May 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is still the best review of a review EVER! talk about LOL. i LOVE you guys, man!

4:40 PM, January 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

genius.

7:52 PM, February 04, 2008  

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