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, July 19, 2006

Le Cirque: Fancy Pants, but No Family Jewels

Time to take off those thatched heather pajamas and put on your fancy pants! The Count, feeling very Countly today, drops in on Le Cirque, flush with seeming nostalgia for the starchy, star-studded brand. He begins,

“RESTAURANTS, like poker players, often have tells.”

Yeah? Here’s mine.

I'm all, "LOOK AT MY CARDS!" [TOOT!]

He continues, “The tip-off to Le Cirque’s inner musings and true intentions is just inside the entrance, on a table to the left.”

How candid.

Also on said table are “copies of Sirio Maccioni’s autobiography… from which we learn “that Le Cirque isn’t peddling a particular dining experience so much as a larger legend, constructed by its ringmaster, Mr. Maccioni, over more than three decades of soufflés and stroked egos.”

And occasionally judging the Miss Teen Soviet Satellite competition.

Now, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly, I’m not one for glitzy places such as Le Cirque (Frank—“Le Cirque means luxury. Le Cirque equals privilege. Le Cirque connotes a … pecking order by which the rich and famous get the best tables…”) A good night out for me is talking my goat, Stroganoff, for a walk through Bed-Stuy.

Stroganoff is paralyzed. Check out my sweet Uggs.

And apparently, "walking" poor Stroganoff would be a far more valuable use of my time, since

“the restaurant itself is no longer an especially exciting one… The new Le Cirque…seems to be coasting on its myth, counting on the star power of Mr. Maccioni…”

No thanks! When I count on stars, It’s usually the North Star, and I’m wishing that it would rehydrate my ovaries.

Come on! Just get me a Grape Ice Gatorade and they'll be back in action!!

The food gives Frank occasion to be extremely girly— it’s best to read the following with an English accent and you have to imagine him done up like Salieri and tossing around a lacey kerchief at stressed syllables:

“Its ethereal Dover sole meunière makes you believe that this fish was put into the seas to await its appointment with butter and lemon. Its drab lobster salad makes you question the crustacean’s gastronomic calling.”

Fuck this! I’m shilling for my own death!

Almost as near-dead as Le Cirque’s breed, is LeCirque’s clientele:

“…on one starry night alone, Henry A. Kissinger, Bill Cosby, and Helen Gurley Brown — but I didn’t see many who looked younger than 65, the exertions of their plastic surgeons notwithstanding.”

Frank, are you suggesting that Helen Gurley Brown…NAAAH. Come on. Plastic surgery?? She just got out of a topless Corvette going at Mach 30 after hairspraying her face, that's all!

We will all find ourselves in the twilight of our years pooping into our own stockings at the produce isle and trying to hail a taxi in our linen closets, so it’s best to lay off the elderly, I find. But Frank has a good bit of fun among the rarefied ones:

“I detected a great deal of hair spray, spotted many pocket handkerchiefs and marveled at the gargantuan white toupee on a man who preened on a nearby banquette, seemingly unaware that a Samoyed had fallen on his head.”

AAAAAAH WHAT WOULD I GIVE??? WHAT WOULD I GIVE to have a Samoyed secretly on my head? Literally hundreds of pennies.

It’s impossible to talk about Le Cirque without mentioning the near-extinction of its species in New York:

“With its formally attired servers, puffed-up patrons and transparent hierarchy, Le Cirque clings to a kind of pomp that undid most of its competitors.”

There’s something dreamy about that kind of formalism— 1950’s America as portrayed in film, where nary a conversation can be undertaken without scotch in gloved hand, and a girl with 25 suitors that she hasn’t banged can order an île flottant without looking at the menu.

But that isn’t quite what’s preserved at Le Cirque, where Frank’s Reichl-invoking, consumer-minded sleuthwork uncovered some bald-faced snobbism:

“I sent three friends in ahead of me. One sat at the bar for 15 minutes without getting a server’s attention, and a bartender quarreled with the two others…”

“But I was treated like royalty when I showed up.”

As you should be Frank, as you should be.

And I like a wino covered in felt.

Well, 2 stars, as predicted.

I wonder if Frank is going to start employing disguises now?



Anonymous Fesser said...

The Sirio bio is hilarious. It's like unearthing a Spy from its golden age, but purged of irony.

9:17 AM, July 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marry me.

11:56 AM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger Sam said...

Reminds me of the time my dad brought me to 'Le Petite Marmite' in Palm Beach, Florida. This is where folks like the Kennedys go to get their squares in the wintertime, very haute and chic. So Dad bellies up to the bar and asks for a scotch and water, a menu, and a coke for me. My tummy was a little off that day so I barfed in a potted plant. My dad inquired as to whether he could buy the fake f*cking frog in the window, and the rest is history.

Clamcakes, anyone?

3:57 PM, July 19, 2006  

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