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, May 31, 2006

Cafe d'Alsace: Franck ist Up-Gefuckt

Guten Morgen! Heute Franck Bruni hat eine shöne Böner für Café D’Alsace! In fact, Frank had this Böner ) ">several weeks ago, but now, he’s positively certain about it: Café D’Alsace is better than it should be, “a solid neighborhood restaurant with a claim to distinction beyond its neighborhood.” And that distinction is a roster of over 110 different beers and a “beer sommelier” to usher you amongst them.

This place was on my To-Try list for some time, until I realized it was on the [insert confused scowl] Upper East Side. I’m not…I don’t…How do I even?...

Jules’ image of the Upper East Side.

I’m just kidding! I know that’s not really what the Upper East Side is like.

Actual image of the Upper East Side.

(Gonna get letters for that one. Sigh.)

While today’s review was alarmingly written in prose (as opposed to last week’s), it’s not without its mangled-yet-adorable linguistic stepchildren.

Frank opens with a frantic olfactory search for traces of clove in a Belgian Leffe beer:

“I searched my palate for what was behind the orange or maybe in front of the orange or possibly on the side of the orange.”

But did ya check between the oranges?

Oranges, pumpkins, who’s counting?

Alas, he never finds what he’s looking for:

“No clove, at least not for me. But I was having what I suppose I should describe as a heady time rooting around for it.”

“Heady” is Frank’s adorable euphemism for “shit-canned.” Sort of like how Hemingway daintily refers to himself as “tight” all the time but really he’s six frozen margaritas to the wind, wandering a rive gauche gutter and firing his rifle to the chorus of "The Electric Slide." Or, fine, "The Gas-lit Slide."

“I woke up next to a leapoard. The leopard was wearing my underpants. It was a good leopard. I liked the leopard. It was a fine and good leopard in my underpants and I liked it.”

But it’s not all about the brew-dogs here--

“Subtract the obscure ales at Café d'Alsace and you still have a very appealing restaurant…. Put them back into the equation and you have something special…”

Awwww. And he said it without any silly puns!

“Café d'Alsace won't just be beer today and gone tomorrow.”

Oops! Spoke too soon!

The place belongs to Simon Oren (of Marseille and Nice Matin), a savvy ruler who “made a career of colonizing needy neighborhoods with the likes of steak frites and crème brûlee.”

You should see what he did in Southeast Asia with chicken paillard and flourless chocolate cake.

Chef Philippe Roussel offers the perfect menu to counterbalance all that light, non-filling beer: choucroute, marrow bones, and “baeckeoffe, a traditional Alsatian casserole with bacon, lamb, oxtails and no small measure of potatoes. I suppose it's for diners who find the choucroute garnie too dainty,” specifically this man:

“Dude, that shit’s gay.”

Café d’Alsace isn’t completely perfect:
“I encountered a few too many dishes, including a wanly flavored veal breast and a gummy beer-braised lamb shank, that weren't really for anyone.” Really? Not for ANYONE?

“I'm sorry but that veal breast is way too wan. I’ll stick with my gruel, thanks.”

I don’t even know what to say about this one: “If tuna is the chicken of the sea, frog's legs are the chicken wings of the haute pond.” Except that I hope to see it on the Totally Nuts Analogy section of the SATs come 2007. Give the kids some PCP and I bet they'll get it right.

In the end, Frank has a warm, fuzzy feeling for this place in his heart (after all the beer, that fuzzy feeling will soon migrate to his colon no doubt), warm enough to drunkenly grant 2 stars. “I got a buzz from the surroundings…. Let's face it: I also got a buzz from the beers.”

You know what? Sometimes, that's what fine dining's all about.


Blogger J said...

I've enjoyed your blog in the past and I just did an analysis of Frank's lack of beer savvy in his Cafe d'Alsace review that I thought you might enjoy. For example at the end he says, referring to Duvel, "on occasion, [why not] let a lager carry the load?" The only problem is Duvel is an ale. It's not a little mistake, but a whopper on the order of calling a white wine a red wine.


8:18 PM, June 01, 2006  
Blogger Sam said...

Why I was just having a Saint Arnold 'Lawnmower' Kölsch and almost spewed after reading Jules' blog and yours J. Splooge is maybe a better word. Fortunately there are some things that Frankie just can't suss.

And then there's summertime beer, like our Kölsch, or maybe even a Radler (strong German ale and lemonade). Living down south we also like the spicy Michelada, preferably with micro-brew or home brew.

Ah let's not tell the man that he should stick to one style of beer at a sitting, as switching will give one the proverbial Schlitz.

3:10 PM, June 03, 2006  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

Your allusion to Hem made my Monday. :) Bruni could take a few writing lessons from Papa.

10:42 PM, June 05, 2006  
Blogger psnd1969 said...

Jules, you are a goddess of the pen, er.. keyboard. I haven't laughed so hard in ages. You've got me hooked!

1:38 AM, June 06, 2006  
Anonymous dirops said...

I've read about fifty of your blogs in the past week (just discovered it) but that Hemingway shit just made me eject a perfectly good mouthful of bourbon. Through my nose. And it hurt, it really, really hurt.

11:54 PM, October 07, 2006  

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