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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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, April 05, 2006

Country: Hail to the Cooks. And the Bathroom Attendants.

It’s time to whip out your glow sticks, kids, ‘cause this week, it’s a rave!

I’ve been hiding in 1996…is it safe to come out now? No? OK.

Frank loved the East Side bicameral beauty which is Country, in the Carlton hotel. The food seems to have wowed him, but the all-important décor tickled his cashmere thong no less. I have to agree with Frank on the looks of the place— only a few days ago, Michael “Dingle” Barry and I were lured from our afternoon stroll and into the restaurant by the luscious, man-clubby look of the place...

Not that it takes much to lure me into a restaurant.

Jules: This place is supposed to be great. We have to check it out."
Everyone: "But-"
Jules: "JUST APPS! We’ll just do apps!"


The place is called Country, Frank is quick to point out, not because anyone’s steering a semi or wearing hay pants, but rather because chef Geoffrey Zakarian also runs a place called Town. Frank sees this as, to paraphrase, totally douchy:

“[Zakarian] apparently couldn't resist the opportunity for matched-set cuteness, even though Country has a glittery soul that is almost entirely cosmopolitan.”

Frank assumes it was the matched-set appeal of “Town & Country” that Zakarian liked. But maybe, in fact, the chef deliberately wanted to reference the LEAST FUNNY movie of all time:

Zakarian’s next pair of restaurants will be named "Schindler's" and "List."

Frank rails further on the cutesy naming: “[Zakarian's] like a father who disregards such pesky details as gender to christen his second son Cleopatra because the first is Antony."

Above, a father who disregards such pesky details as gender.
(P.S. a male named Cleopatra is officially the gayest thing I’ve ever read in the Times. Along with today's usage of the phrase "wondrously silken," which Frank possibly lifted from an Estee Lauder ad.)

But seriously, I find parents that want to name their kids things like Hansel and Gretel, or Ebony and Ivory sort of insulting for the babies. If one little embryo, much less two, ever manages to cling to the gin-pickled ceviche of my uterus for nine whole months, you can bet I’m gonna reward those tenacious babies with their own totally original names.

Dinglemuff is already so tactile!

Frank’s review this week is front-loaded with wacky language. Then he sings a pretty straight-laced love song that essentially praises the cooks on the line as much as the chefs at the helm:

Both the upstairs and downstairs restaurants are “united and distinguished by their classically French inclinations and by unusually expert cooking” – they “wow you with their execution.” That's the line he's talking about, alright.

The Count ascribes one triumph after another to the central roast or the central braise, and not to the garnish or flourish. That said, it wasn’t totally boring:

“I liked the way seared skate was bracketed by roasted cauliflower and puréed cauliflower, the vegetable's flavor coming at me in different ways, with different degrees of force.”

The roasted cauliflower came at Frank from the left, with a schoolyard push, while the puree flanked him on the right with a fierce atomic elbow.

“I’m gonna treat you so good, daddy. YOU GET OVER HERE, FRANK!”

But stars are not earned on aggressive crucifers alone: the interiors of both the “distinctly masculine” café and the “more refined dining room” get the elusive Bruni approval. That’s not all:

“The attention to detail at Country is otherwise consistent and impressive…. In the cafe, iced tea comes with ice cubes made of tea…”

How considerate! In the dining room, steak comes with a fork made of pure sirloin, and in the bathroom, stall attendants are actually made of doodie.

It’s the little things, ya know?

Well, three big fat stars later, I’ll never be able to waltz in there off the street again, but I bet Zakarian and his gang are celebrating as any restaurant team would on the eve of a critical rave:


SLIP N SLIDE IN THE HALLWAY, DUDES!!!!

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

um, did the big finale of this otherwise brilliant post get truncated? how *are* the country bumpkins celebrating?

You continue to light up my life, every Wednesday.

4:34 PM, April 05, 2006  
Blogger Jules said...

You sneaky reader! I published without the last image and stuck it on like 2 minutes later.

Slip n sliding down the grand staircase at Country could be amazing, for the record. Not so much amazing "for the satin upholstry" but definitely amazing "for 30 seconds of pre-concussion fun."

4:43 PM, April 05, 2006  
Anonymous Rob said...

Jules, I've been reading your column religiously (really just weekly), and I think it's the funniest thing I've ever seen. I can't understand why you haven't yet been selected by some sort of cosmic comedy scout to lead the universe into a new era. Anyway, I read it all the time and it's always hard for me to keep from laughing audibly. I work in the quiet laboratory, toiling away in silence. But really, I'm the one reading the Bruni Digest while they're curing cancer. Am I a bad person. No, just, umm, open minded? Maybe just cynical. Who knows. Anyway, I want you to compile these things into a book so I can buy it for everyone I know.

THANKS,
Rob

PS, have you given any though to "doodoo" or its alternate spelling "dudu" istead of "doodie". Just a thought.

12:21 PM, April 06, 2006  
Blogger Andrea said...

hah! funny. I wrote this post, and immediately like ten people directed me to your site. Bruni, you insatiable cad!

3:21 PM, April 07, 2006  
Blogger K said...

What is more delightful? This post or a full half hour of furious, Sunday air-humping? I can't decide...

Excellent to meet you yesterday.

4:30 PM, April 10, 2006  

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