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, March 01, 2007

Robert's at the Penthouse Club: Frank takes a seat on Mahogany

Well, I should probably call my dirty uncle Earl and tell him it’s time to whip out that “eunuch in a whorehouse” joke: Frank Bruni finally made it to the Penthouse Executive Club.

Uncle Earl can be a real liability, even sobered up and strapped into a supportive braziere.

Never in the history of critics has there been a man so in love with sexual metaphors for meat as Frank Bruni—well, sexual metaphors for anything really—

Typical Frank: “The baby clutched the hard, glistening wooden shaft and tickled the head tenderly…” P.S., it’s gonna get so much filthier, so relax.

But yesterday’s review of Robert’s at the Penthouse Club broke some kind of superfluous-sex sound-barrier, screeching through the skies of the restaurant world with everyone on the ground pointing up at Frank in disbelief. Especially following the Kobe club/ Chodortard debacle, it’s interesting to see the man courting further scandal, or at least attention. It's as if, following a dirty fight in the middle of the schoolyard, he got up, walked away calmly, and then bent over and yanked down his Italian hand-tailored trouserpants to bare some victorious ass.

For those who want a similar effect without the drafty chill on their cheeks.

Frank opens: “IT may be laughable when someone says he gets Penthouse magazine for the articles. It’s no joke when I say I went to the Penthouse Executive Club for the steaks.”

This week anyway, it might be laughable when someone says he gets the Dining Times for the articles. Any illiterate hobo would enjoy the many stripper photos:

Times caption: “SHE NEEDS A STEAK…OR A SWEATER.” Couldn’t have done a better caption myself. Although I could try:

“Hi, I’m an asshole!”

For the first time since Horatius Pittenfarthing reviewed Big Edna's House of Both Ill-Repute and Chicken for the Times in 1896, a restaurant review actually came with a slideshow of exotic dancers:

Frank's commentary: “They whirl and gyrate and toss their heads around so violently that you wonder: is stripping-related whiplash covered by workman's comp?”

Yeah, when a lady takes off a fake policeman suit item-by-item and then polishes the length of an aluminum pole with her bush, you tend to wonder about the labor conditions stipulated in her contract.

These guys are wondering if “Chesapeake” has gotten her W-2 yet. Also whether she will let them touch her yams for free. Actually, the guy on the left just remembered it’s his wife’s birthday and the guy on the right is laughing because his pants are secretly off.

But the slideshow gives away the joke of the whole review: Frank and his "companions" are, in his words, “strangers to such pulchritudinous territory, less susceptible to the scenery than other men might be, more aroused by the side dishes than the sideshow.”

Wait a minute. Wai-wai-wai-waiiiiiiit a minute— Frank is less susceptible to the scenery? What’s he saying? He doesn't pitch a tent for gorgeous women humping banisters? IS FRANK BRUNI BLIND?

"The decor in the dining room... sounded... very beautiful..."

No, he's not blind. If you listen closely, you’ll see that he’s telling you something more personal, something that I’ve never explicitly addressed--

I’m just here to sit really unlady-like, smoke Pall Mall 100’s and make dirty jokes.

But since he's making it the central joke of his review, I think it's fair to point out that Frank is telling us he's gay.

Frank is gay.





Gay, gloriously gloriously




Fine. One more.


Man, I feel like I just came out of the closet. So liberating.

But does Frank simply pout, ignoring the titties and burrowing in his porterhouse? No. The man bucks up and does his Times-given duty of enjoying the ladies, mostly in conversation:

“A beautiful woman claimed the plush armchair opposite mine. She introduced
herself. I wasn’t sure I’d heard her name correctly.
‘Mahogany?’ I said.
‘Yes,’ she purred.
...‘Mahogany,’ I asked, ‘do you know where you’re going to?’
She didn’t miss a beat, noting the
reference, summoning the singer, and moving on to another of the dreamgirl’s
hits. ‘I’m ... coming ... out!’ she sang, waving her arms, wiggling her hips.
Mahogany and I would get along just fine.”

About 80% of the review consists of priceless interactions like this, Frank dodging the come-ons of women named after shades of Sherwin-Williams deck stain, indulging them the way a hospice worker indulges a mildly deranged old person:

"I've got to be at the Folies Bergeres in twenty minutes to meet President Wilson! I'm going to eat this dustpan first, as soon as I find m' teeth!"
"Of course you are, Mrs. Prendergast."

As if to tantalize and frustrate the straight men out there, he repeatedly turns down sexy propositions, never quite takes advantage of his enviable combination of an endless expense account and the ostensible professional excuse to have his ears boxed by a pair of coconut-oiled stripper's tits:

“She said she was running low on cabernet. I took the cue and asked if I could buy her a fresh glass.

‘Yes,’ she said. ‘And you can pour it on my toes.’

Didn’t happen. And when one of her sorority sisters sidled up to us to pose a question not commonly uttered in fine-dining establishments — ‘Is there anyone I can get naked for?’ — the response was silence.”

And a thousand teenage boys said "DOH!"

For those nights when you just want to take grandma somewhere after church for a nice cut of meat, Frank reassures you that the naked ladies will “vanish quickly if shooed away.”

After all, grandma has made it pretty clear she enjoys the love of a gay gigolo far more than that of a female stripper. "It reminds me of my youth in Palermo" she screams, as she jams four figs and a tupperware full of her best gravy into his banana hammock.

Although prices, “pumped up to reflect the entertainment on hand, might also be called topless,” (groan) the steak bests competition from heavy's like Luger's, thanks to chef Adam Perry Lang of Daisy May's. Hence the count's one-star award.

As for the rest of the food, the "onion rings are fat and crunchy, and cream and bacon turn a side of brussels sprouts into something naughty."

It's funny, all it took was a little cream and bacon, and they spun those sprouts right into a grade-A, superfilthy butt-flossing dickmitt. EAT YOUR HEART OUT, ROBUCHON!!

But it gets naughtier: "It’s called a buttery nipple, and it involves one of the women straddling your lap, tilting your head back, pouring a combination of Baileys Irish Cream and butterscotch schnapps down your throat, and squirting Reddi-wip into your mouth. It costs $20 in cash. Note to the newspaper’s expense auditors: I don’t have a receipt."

You know, it's funny, there are a bunch of things Frank didn't get a receipt for this week:

I've cited about 1% of Frank's gay-among-the-babes hilarity; it must be read in its entirety to be fully appreciated. But the last third of the review is just extended conversation, covering everything from education to cell phone choice, between unaroused Frank and some braindead hotties in their birthday suits:

"'Foxy, I began, then stopped myself, wondering if I was being too familiar. 'Are you and I on a first-name basis, or should I address you as Ms. Foxy?'
'You can call me Dr. Foxy, she said.
'Is that an M.D. or a Ph.D.?'
'Yes,' she answered."

I think Foxy speaks for all of us. I for one, am completely confused, totally exhausted, and a little creeped out. I'd like you all to know that this post required me to do a lot of disgusting image searching, and I've seen more Ukranian pooter in the past few hours than the Planned Parenthood in downtown Kiev. It's time to just sit down, throw some ice down the back of my neck and stare at the least sexiest thing of all time:

Yyyyyyyup, thanks, Al, that'll do.