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.

My Photo
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.

Friday, March 31, 2006

My Momma Raised Me So So Wrong

Just kidding! My momma raised me really well, but how RUDE of me not to thank my guest blogger, Michael Barry, for his two outstanding weeks of service. If I could find a gay enough pole, I would hoist him up on it and salute his tight, talented shorts. Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Speaking of panties, tonight is the last night of our two-month run of "Doody Calls" at the PIT, and it's going to be 1) a full house, 2) insane, and 3) I'ma be real drunk. After this, I'm taking a "hiatus from performing" for a while to "focus on writing" (for those of you at my high school alumni magazine, that's code for "going to Tijuana" and "coming back as a man named Bradlee.")

Since I've gone organic, I'm getting my new "business" made of all-natural pinewood!

For advance tickets and more info on the show, click here.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Urena: "Yo' Restaurant So Ugly..."

It’s true; I skipped last week's review of Morimoto. Since my return from France, I’ve been strapped to an elliptical machine in Fort Greene, trying to get rid of my “France fat” which is mostly made of duck.

If only my wooden jeans would take a cue.

For a wrap-up of what can go wrong when toothy-grinned American franchises encounter what they perceive as the fragile mysticism of Japanese culture, i.e. Stephen Starr’s Morimoto, please see Big Bird in Japan.

My favorite part is when Big Bird shrugs at the camera and says “Why is everybody here from Ohio????” Hilare.

But this week, oh man, this week is by far a juicier piece of Bruni work than last week. We all know that Frank takes décor seriously. Alto, Gray, and Telepan know this especially well. Poor ugly Telepan, whom Frank would have gladly renamed Bedpan for its insistent use of Pee Pee Green.

It’s from the MoStew “Rikers” Collection for Conway

Speaking of pee pee, Frank’s visit to Urena (named after the chef, Alex Urena, but an amusing false cognate with the Latin “Urena” meaning "a noblewoman who pees publicly after drinking") shows a far, far more judgmental Frank. This is a Frank who wants to be swept to the prom by the entire Varsity football team, but then demands that they wax and wear satin.

"Dude, I'm like, gonna pressure myself into sex after the prom!"
"Me too!"
"Totally! What's Dennis Quaid doing here?"

But before he finds some Lee press-ons with which to scratch out Urena’s eyes, Frank finds…a COMPUTER?? He begins:

“IT'S only a 0.58-mile drive from the new restaurant Ureña to a Home Depot. I know because I did a MapQuest search, which also provided the directions: east on 28th, south on Park, west on 23rd.”

(Cut to Frank leaning back on a dark leather sofa, smoking a pipe full of scotch and toying with a length of lanyard: Not only can I conduct such technological reconnaissance, I also know how to macramé, I can soft boil an egg, and wait til you see me build little sailor hats out of toilet paper…)

“I urge [Alex Urena] to commandeer a van and head over to the store, or somewhere similar, before it's too late.”

Obviously, Alex Urena’s restaurant is so fucking ugly because he had NO IDEA how to get to the design mecca which is HOME DEPOT from his restaurant. If only he had thought to commandeer a van, and log on to Map Quest.

HEY FRANK, we need your help!

This lady’s been waiting 250 years for you to MapQuest Vicky’s Secret for her. Thanks!

Frank continues unapologietically:
“Ureña fills me with apprehension — and, obviously, decorating tips — because it's the ugliest restaurant with great food that I know, a toad-faced prince, and I think it's paying a steep price for that.”


I’m not sure whether to make a “horny toad” joke here, or just to apologize for this image.

But speaking of mercury-lacquered boners, reading about the food at Urena really gives me a huge one:

“Mr. Ureña's salty rabbit confit appetizer — for which unusually tender strands of leg meat are braided with slippery shiitake mushrooms, molded into a puck and then nestled beside a cauliflower purée — dazzled me in a way that rabbit seldom does.”

Frank has obviously never met Sausage, the most dazzling man-rabbit of Crisco County, Mo. How he amuses the tots!


Frank spends about 800 lofty words on a flounder that really baked his cookie:

The fish was pan seared and then roasted, and then surrounded with “ a beautifully orchestrated symphony of effects [groaaaan]: glazed celery root, hon shimeji mushrooms, a Manchego and spinach mousse and a grapefruit and elderflower sauce. Different bites emphasized different notes, this one vaguely bitter, that one fleetingly earthy, none of them too insistent.”

But for all that girly praise, Frank still can’t get over the “toad-faced” ambience:

Dining at Urena “suffers from not only Ureña's sights, like the zestless color combination of dirt-brown banquettes against lemony walls, but also its sounds. Much of the cheesy recorded music, like the lighting, suited a bicuspid extraction. On the way to the Home Depot, drop the CD's or tapes in the trash.”

Did Frank actually step back from his computer and make a you-go-girl air snap? I can’t help but feel that he at least high-fived one of his manservants. This is not just a friendly critique--it's downright sassy! While you’re torching your restaurant, make sure and dump your tapes in the trash! SNAP! I SAID IT!

But on a sidenote, if you’re dumping your “tapes,” Frank, maybe it’s time to get rid of your betamax and your tin-can phone, too, huh?

The Count's swimsuit.

But Frank has great respect for young chef Alex’s illustrious series of apprenticeships:

"Mr. Ureña's education also included a stint in Spain under Ferran Adrià, whose foamy lessons he learned well."

I was fortunate enough to learn my foamy lessons from my aunt Beatrice. Her secret? Eat a head of raw broccoli, down some hot coffee, and go for a jog.

Ah, foamy aunt Beatrice.

In fact, in the spirit of aunt B, Alex Urena's whole menu seems to be sliding into home-- and things that aren't foamy are on their way there. An artichoke puree “was like a foam waiting to happen,” a phrase I can’t BELIEVE is in the Times, and not in some 5th grader’s joke book.

There are too many delicious Brunisms to excerpt this week (“trios foie, to indulge in a rhyme”!) but I believe that Frank’s conclusion, in which he teams up with a friend, "Heathers"-style, to shit on ugly people, deserves to be repeated in its shocking, shocking entirety:

“A friend who accompanied me for one meal and then excitedly joined me for another compared Ureña to a ‘boyfriend with a great personality but unfortunate looks.’

After a bite of beautifully sautéed mahi-mahi with a portobello confit and a buttery ginger, soy and balsamic vinegar sauce, she said, ‘I can overlook the hooked nose.’

The short ribs persuaded her that she could also get past his ‘bad dental work.’

Me too. But a minor makeover would put me in a major swoon.”

I mean, two stars is no small endorsement—what a pity that 3 stars might have been in young Alex’s grasp but that his “hooked nose” and “bad dental work” interfered.

But you know [insert "Uncle Danny's Wisdom Theme" from "Full House"], Urena, sometimes it's the little ugly things that make us lovable. I mean, if my one oversized nipple hadn't caught the eye of the NYPD as I barfed into my halter top whilst slumped in a busstop on Avenue C, would I ever have met my loving boyfriend, Warden Bill? I doubt it. So keep your chin up, your banquettes dung-colored, and your music cheezy. You never know who might arrest, and then subsequently love you.

So, to the very ugly, I say: You keep lying to yourself, and we'll shut up and let you.

The. End.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

P.J. Clarke's on the Hudson: It's no T.G.I. Friday's on the Gowanus Canal!

Jules continues to flit about Provence, indulging in the traditional French lifestyle for which she's yearned all these years: riding a rusty Segue (TM) from her sleeping villa to the dairy shack for her morning glass of creme fraiche; vandalizing everything remotely symbolizing international trans-fat purveyor McDonald's, including clowns and mimes she runs into on dusty country roads; and relaxing with a daily bouillebaisse foot massage in the basement kitchen of the hotel maid's lean-to. Until she returns to her regular blogging duties next week, I, Mike "Turbo Dyke" Barry will once again carry on in her stead.

An artist's rendering of Jules in France, practicing her plainchant before a traditional dinner of the roasted limbs of disaffected bourgeoisie.

This week, the Count trundles downtown to take a gander at P.J. Clarke's on the Hudson, essentially a giant, 220-seat version of its uptown namesake. That is, it's the same P.J. Clarke's you would find on a jaunt in the East 50's, except it got a couple of shots of Human Growth Hormone in its ass cheeks after baseball practice.

The prototypical P.J. Clarke's on the Hudson customer. Note his wild red eyes and handsomely arched brows.

With the kind of deft sociopolitical touch that allows him to avoid being pantsed in liberal Alphabet City gastro-dives, even as he feels justified pissing in the mouths of designated "porter-potties" at the 21 Club during tea time, Frank puts forth two divergent viewpoints for how to perceive P.J. Clarke's on the Hudson, without ascribing fully to either one:

"You can look at the new P. J. Clarke's in downtown Manhattan as an unremarkable illustration of the laws of supply and demand, as an economics lesson writ boozy and caloric. It puts broad slabs of beef, tall mounds of carbohydrates, stiff drinks and an atavistically musky atmosphere in the paths of hungry financial types, who have been known to respond to such things."

I can think of other things "hungry financial types" respond to...

WAITER: And for you, madame?
FINANCIAL TYPE: I'll have the 48 oz. filet, hold the greens, but can I get a side of speedballs on the half shell?
WAITER: Very good, madame. And to drink?
FINANCIAL TYPE: Uhhhhhhhhhh...let's go with the blood of my competitors.

Yet the Count can also see something far more sinister in the new establishment:

"Or you can take a dimmer view and see a dark capitalist allegory, a validation of the idea that no rarity is safe from replication or protected from conversion into a kind of franchise divorced from any particular place and time."

We all know how sad and disgusting such entities can be:

The original "Prince of Payola," Dick Clark, top. Below, the HostTron 4000, aka Ryan Seacrest.

What Frank is getting at is that the intangible qualities of the original P.J. Clarke's are worth considering when evaluating the giganto, sanitized new version. As a patron of the former for one or two leisurely lunches, I must agree. The no-nonsense presentation (burgers served on small bread plates, ketchup in a bottle veruss a ramican, a waitstaff generously seasoned with experience and liver spots) juxtaposed nicely with the casually elegant clubbiness of the decor. Instead of wearing urine-soaked Sans-a-Belts and carting a grocery basket of Marxist literature like the geezers at the Carnegie Deli or Zabar's, the insufferable wheeze bags at P.J.'s wear seersucker and read the large print edition of the Financial Times.

Frank notes, "P. J.'s trafficked in its own singular history. Nat King Cole had a charge account there. Johnny Mercer supposedly wrote the hit song "One for My Baby" on a napkin at the bar. Aristotle Onassis and Jackie Kennedy had a favorite table and, of course, dibs on it."

He continued, "regulars still tell stories of when Nancy Reagan barfed all over the raw bar after one too many Perfect Rob Roys."

The secret basement piano lounge at the original P.J. Clarke's, where Carol Channing was said to participate in a gang bang with Sid Caesar, Robert Goulet, Ann Margaret and Henry Kissinger.

Frank is a purist, after all; he covered the Vatican, for chrissakes, and he cynically laments the possible bastardization of the P.J. Clarke's phenomenon in every hob-nobber-heavy white man's enclave from D.C. to Detroit:

"[The head of the new consortium of owners, Phillip Scotti]'s had thoughts about Washington, and he's had 10 copies of the original's famously oversize, winged porcelain urinals made, at a total cost of about $80,000. Ten was the minimum order that a special ceramics manufacturer in Ohio would accept, he said. Two of these urinals were installed in the new P. J.'s. Four pairs remain. P. J.'s could be the first restaurant chain with a destiny manifestly influenced by lavatory flourishes."

Not so fast, Bruni! You're forgetting about "The Bloke Boat," the venerable gay booze cruise chain with the popular see-through urinals and the weekly "Wide World of Watersports" night!

Wait, they serve food, right? Whatever.

With the remaining three-millionths of a column inch, the Count decides to focus on the food at P.J. Clarke's, and it's not nearly as shitty as those $8,000 urinals are gonna get when St. Patty's rolls around in a few days:

"In terms of food, the new P. J.'s, like the old P. J.'s, positions itself as an uncomplicated crowd pleaser. It's an American steakhouse (shrimp cocktail, iceberg wedge, T-bone for two, creamed spinach, cheesecake), a British pub (fish and chips, shepherd's pie), a brasserie (roasted chicken, steak tartare, oysters, other raw bar selections) and a diner (meatloaf, turkey club, corned beef Reuben) all wrapped into one. It's better than snobs would like to think and worse than contrarians would hasten to claim, which may be another way of saying that it's usually serviceable and sometimes respectable."

Hey, that sounds alright! I mean, I would also call the acting work of Harrison Ford "serviceable" and "respectable," and you didn't hear me complaining during Air Force One!

"I'm getting $20 million AND a cut of the back end to play this role, you DISGUSTING TERRORIST! NOW GET OFF MY PLANE!"

That isn't to say there aren't some problems with the fare; we're not talking about Christmas Dinner at the Keller compound here:

"[P.J. Clarke's on the Hudson's] baked macaroni and cheese, almost stiff enough to be hoisted from its bowl in one clump, should be called macaroni and an unconfirmed rumor of cheese, and even that might be overstating dairy's role in the affair.
For their part clams had seemingly minimized their involvement in a chowder named for them. Other dishes betrayed their pedigrees or purposes in other ways. A Caesar salad was insufficiently salty and excessively watery. French fries were stony, mashed potatoes pasty, lump crabmeat chalky."

Jeez Louise, if you ordered the french fries, mashed potatoes, and lump crabmeat, and threw in a box of crayons and some safety scissors, you could entertain a 5-year-old until his Bar Mitzvah.

This woman got her MFA working solely with P.J. Clarke's signature hummus.

The newness of this whole parrot routine on the old disquiets the Count:

"Light-filled, gleaming and so vast that the walk between the front tables and the bathrooms is almost a day's worth of cardio, this P. J.'s feels too polished, too mass-market, like an upbeat Beyoncé cover of a downbeat Billie Holiday classic."

Too true, wise Frank. Beyonce looked ridiculous singing "Strange Fruit" in that nude bodysuit at the Orange Bowl halftime show.

Here she is reciting the "I Have a Dream" speech on The Tonight Show.

Thus, P.J. Clarke's on the Hudson nests in its latest incarnation with no stars at all to adorn from its spankin' new rafters. Maybe bigger isn't better?

Check back next week, when Frank travels back in time to sample the eats on the fabulously, freakishly huge Titanic!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Blaue Gans: Things that make you go "meh..."

Since Jules is tromping across the south of France in her trusty European traveling costume of shapeless peasant dress and milkmaid's hat, stuffing fistfuls of rich vineyard soil into her souvenier "Je Suis Avec le Imbecile!" fanny pack and learning, whilst on a day trip to Monaco, that Prince Albert is not only her favorite piercing but also an ambiguously gay royal, I, Mike "Dinglefairy" Barry have been entrusted with this week's Digest.

An accurate rendering of Julia abroad. Not pictured: the smuggled American version of Us Weekly tucked into her pewter chastity thong.

This week, the Count seems to have stumbled upon a pleasant if uninspiring sibling of Kurt Gutenbrunner's more celebrated culinary endeavors, not so much a delightfully nostalgic re-run of a fresh new formula as a rough distillation of themes and ingredients that have already regaled dining audiences in more sophisticated forms. Let's call Blaue Gans "The Nanny" to Thor's "Who's the Boss?"

"MS. FINNNNEEEE!!! You know you can't come near me for an unexpected tongue-ing until season 7!"

The familiarity of the place, from the food to the decor, is discomfiting to Frank, if not horrifyingly so:

"The space belonged to Le Zinc, and the few tweaks he and his collaborators made to its décor — still defined by a long zinc bar, scores of vintage posters, a curved ceiling and high-backed red banquettes — are so negligible that you find yourself wondering if he simply changed the locks and the name on the utilities and flicked on the lights."

Obviously, Frank has seen "Single White Female," and he's not falling for that steez, no siree.

Jennifer Jason Leigh, top, and Kurt Gutenbrunner, below. Both copy things they admire, and both have blown Steven Weber on-screen.

Displaying his position as a man cognizant of geopolitical history, Frank calls Blaue Gans both an "Austro-German" restaurant and "as much a land grab as an elaborately imagined restaurant." Does that make Le Zinc Czechoslovakia?

CHAMBERLAIN: Alright, Addy, you get some lebensraum and we get to keep our fruity accents. Deal?
HITLER: Zat vuz vot I vuz goingk to say!
HITLER: [fingers crossed] Foreverrgh!

Dare I say that Frank seems a bit bored with his choice of restaurant this week? Indeed, he yawns at the monotonous palette of components to the dishes presented:

"The menu Mr. Gutenbrunner installed is brief, and it returns again and again to the same ideas and ingredients. Sausages have their day, sauerkraut gets a say and horseradish holds sway over a third of the dishes, or so it seems."

He went on to rhyme, "Volkswagen Cabrios are gay, Xtina Aguilera's a great lay, and my preferred biopic is 'Ray.'"

Frank's backyard during his favorite month--May! Rimshot!

Nevertheless, he sees a niche for such a creation:

"As dashed-off as Blaue Gans may be, it perfectly suits a certain casual mood and a certain basic appetite, proving that a restaurant needn't be tremendously significant to be significantly appealing. It's for impulsive diners who haven't taken the time to make reservations, which it doesn't accept. For impatient diners who don't want to pore over dozens of relentlessly inventive options, which it doesn't have. For exhausted diners who don't want to study a lengthy, abstruse wine list. Blaue Gans doesn't have that, either."

So, all you shallow, fretful, overworked people with a neanderthal's palette and a hankerin' for some riesling, come on down to Blaue Gans!

"Dammit honey, I can't make you pork chops tonight, I've got a major presentation tomorrow morning and I'm lactating like the fountains at the Bellagio. Let's just go to Blaue Gans."

One thing's for certain: the Count doesn't just want to eat like a kaiser, he wants to be treated like a kaiser. That's why when the service is spotty, Frank gets a-snotty:

"Service isn't entirely reliable. When a friend and I went for brunch one weekend, our waiter repeatedly forgot to bring us things we'd asked for: a napkin, her second mimosa, her third mimosa (she'd had a rough week)."

What the waiter didn't realize, though, is that his friend wanted the mimosas all at once.

Frank's "friend" sleeping through their coffee date at Dean & Deluca

Thankfully, the negligent waitstaff wasn't so callous in the evening, after a couple of hearty braus and a long stint of admiring each other's genetic purety:

"Dinners proceeded much more smoothly, perhaps because the gracious young Austrian man who works as a combined sommelier, host and floor manager was there. He also lent the restaurant an aura of authenticity with his pronounced accent and Alpine musings.
When I arrived one night, he was raptly watching the winter Olympics on a TV above the bar, discussing the beauty of the mountains and reminiscing about his home country. If ever I felt a hunger for schnitzels and strudels, along with a thirst for raindrops on roses, it was then and there."

I imagine that Frank half-yearned for his entree to be served in a brown paper package tied up with string. Or was it the young Austrian that he hoped to wrangle home in a doggy bag?!

"Shoo-ah Herr Bruni, I vill hail you a leemo--vat did you poot in my bee-ah? I saw you! You roofie Dieter every veek!"

Gratuitous phonetic accent writing aside, Frank rouses himself to emit some faintly glowing admiration for the sausages at Blaue Gans, including a "mash of blood sausage and fingerling potatoes...molded into a circle and placed on a roomy bed of sauerkraut." However, he calls the fillets of cod and Arctic char "menu stretchers."

Likewise, he characterized the desserts as "as lazy in execution as a Sunday afternoon in the ol' Barca Lounger, sipping Knob Creek and reading a leather-bound edition of 'The DaVinci Code.'"

Frank Bruni's idea of a hike.

Taking note of a meringue dessert Frank sampled, meant to resemble the three mountain peaks surrounding Salzburg, his new friend the Austrian sommelier "glanced longingly at it. Was he reconnecting with his native land? Or just looking forward to a reliably satisfying meal at the end of his shift?"

One may never know. But more importantly, does he have a brother?

Tune in next week, when Frank samples a "Triplets of Bellville, Ontario sandwich"

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Del Posto: Totally Down to Earth (if "Earth" is Rare Etruscan Marble)

If you read the Digest for the uncompromised idiocy and care nothing about the New York dining scene, it may interest you to know that Del Posto has been the subject of much word-of-mouth shittings-on, and a good deal of gossip about landlord strife and air vents (all that juicy stuff!) Throw in the fact that Frank did a PR piece about the opening not long ago, and the fact that Batali is the reigning NYC chef/restaurateur (in celebrity if not in numbers) and this week’s review, like your fat "fun" uncle Kevin who insists on doing cannon balls at the pool party, is going to make a big splash, at the risk of giving some people concussions.

Frank alludes to the negative gossip right off the bat:

“I hear a lot of grousing that Del Posto feels soulless and spurious, that it's the culinary equivalent of an epic Hollywood folly: Dishtar.” I cannot believe Frank made that joke instead of Del Postman.

“Hmmm, I’m not seeing the intersection of Hubris and Baffling Studio Approval …Oh yes! Here it is! I’m standing on it! Hahaha, you handsome nincompoop!!!”

But still, the tone of the whole review feels like the Count is defending the honor of a wronged lady, to the point of accusing us New Yorkers of being small-minded.

I plead "No Contest."

Batali and his business partner, Joe Bastianich “have crumpled up page after page of the script that made their previous ventures so beloved and written a new libretto, emphasizing refined notes over rustic ones, sacrificing hip on the altar of elegant.”

In other words, that downtowny, accessible, rockery goodness that we know and maybe love as Babbo and Lupa and Otto etc., has been replaced with a totally different operational philosophy:

“Spacious and tranquil, with a piano player in place of a rock soundtrack, Del Posto is the anti-Babbo, the un-Lupa.” The a-Otto. The de-Esca. The Bistro du Venticide. We get it. There will not be enormo hamhocks curing from farm-like rafters. Let’s move on.

Now in partnership with Bastianich’s mama Lidia, the “two men have challenged New Yorkers to accept Italian cuisine presented with fastidious rituals and opulent trappings usually reserved for French fare.”

Rituals and trappings usually reserved for French fare and for Edwardian dance reenactors, that is.


“Del Posto dares to speak in an unfamiliar idiom, only to be told it has a phony accent.”
Thank you Confuciou-- I mean, Frank.

The fancy gallic trappings of the Del Posto would set the stage for a real reaming if it weren’t for the food, which charms the pants off Frank (don’t worry! He’s wearing a lace petticoat underneath!) :

Del Posto’s fare is “distinguished by first-rate ingredients (the arugula here makes arugula at many other restaurants seem like iceberg in drag)”


The rustic authenticity doesn’t stop with the greens:

“Mr. Batali's love of offal finds expression in pici, a sort of fat Tuscan spaghetti, with coxcombs, chicken livers, duck testicles and, for conventional decadence, black truffles.”

You may protest that there is no such thing as duck testicle—after all, ducks aren’t mammals! And only mammals have testicles! But he is speaking of a special Italian duck, which doesn’t cross borders.

The Italian Great Balled Mallard struggles to cross even the narrowest streets.

So despite the classiness of the decor, you see, the food is straightforward—not exactly what Giuseppe Schmoe eats every day after cobbling together Fiats, but at least innocent of obnoxious frippery:

“Mr. Batali, Ms. Bastianich and the executive chef, Mark Ladner, tend not to go off on precious, rococo tangents.”

I’ll be the first to say Thank Goodness! I mean, I love Rococo, but…

Batali's tender nipplets make me ill, like a first-time seafarer.

“The potent appeal of a mixed grill with pork loin, a lamb chop, quail and a goose sausage hinges on the kitchen's care with these elements, not on a flurry of embellishments.”
Indeed. What could be simpler? What could be less embellished than a huge meat pile? It fed the dinosaurs, the simple spear-toting cavemen, and the homos erecti for millennia.

See? Not embellished at ALL!!! Ha!…ahem.

“In a disconcerting and sometimes disappointing fashion, dining at Del Posto can demand more than a generous budget and several hours. It can require a quorum.”

Quorum, of course, from the Latin for “liquor,” being a small copper hipflask, usually kept in a woman’s garter or between her breasts in some sort of girdle.
For those unused to girdles, a simple codpiece will suffice.

This one's very affordable, and it's L.L. Bean so there's a lifetime guarantee in case you lose a penis stud.

"Ms. Bastianich can be seen and heard whisking the zabaglione in a copper pot, and the incessant clanging, coupled with the tinkling of the piano, quickly teeters into parody."

I've been known to hooter into parody, but never teeter. Frankly it sounds cheezy. But for Frank, the physical luxury of the place amounts to space and quiet as much as gold trim and marble:

“It also affords real room to maneuver between tables, enough quiet to facilitate conversation…”

You see Frank, much like Silkymuff and Pooter here, has sensitive ears.

So in the end, those of us who were foolish enough to predict a slaying of Del Posto were wrong, and Mario, the eponymous Spotted Pig, now has a second 3-star in his woefully underpigmented crown:
"...why bristle at the pageantry, so long as the pleasure is intact?"

SPEAKING OF INTACT PLEASURE! Check out this short, hilarious video by my sketch comedy group. It literally includes a real kangaroo and several boobs, although they are covered in bras and shirts. I play the irascible "Carla".

Also, I'll be out of the country for the next two weeks on an extradition--OOPS! I meant exPEdition, sorryHAHAHA I HAVEN'T ROBBED ANY BANKS IN BERLIN AND I'M NOT BEING FORCIBLY BROUGHT BEFORE JUSTICE, THAT'S PREPOSTEROUS! HA! How you make me chuckle, reader!-- and during this time, my fellow sketch comedian and writer Mike "The Velveteen Faggot" will helm the Digest. As I will one day trust him to care for the fatherless bastard that will at some point tumble out of me at Pathmark, so I entrust him with this, my precious baby blog.