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oakapple

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Everything posted by oakapple

  1. oakapple

    Merkato 55

    At least Aquavit is still Marcus's concept and recipes. We actually did see him there on one occasion about a couple of years ago.
  2. oakapple

    The Bruni Thread

    The only feasible policy decision would be to figure out a way to update the ratings more often. If you're going to provide a restaurant search capability, it can't just be limited to restaurants Frank Bruni has reviewed in the last 2-3 years. Too much would be left by the wayside.
  3. oakapple

    The Bruni Thread

    ??? we don't know that at all. I daresay the majority of the Times readership...which is not located in NYC, aren't reading the restaurant reviews. to the extent that they're reading D&W, it's for the trend pieces and the cooking pieces. that tells us nothing about who uses the restaurant index as compared to who uses google etc... We're mixing up a few different things here. I've no idea what percentage of Times readers looks at D&W, and of those readers, what percentage read the reviews. But those reviews don't come cheap. Bruni is rumored to have a six-figure dining bu
  4. oakapple

    The Bruni Thread

    But I thought your main complaint is that the reviews are outdated. That flaw could not be rectified with a couple of days' work.
  5. oakapple

    The Bruni Thread

    What it establishes that, to the extent online sites are relevant in guiding dining decisions, the Times is considerably more relevant than the other sites you originally mentioned. Obviously there's a huge number of people who don't look at online sites at all, but among those that do, we now know that a significant number of them rely on the Times.
  6. oakapple

    The Bruni Thread

    You haven't offered any basis for that belief. Why do they feature it so prominently on their website, and why do they continue to invest resources in it? If it weren't getting much use, they would either try to revamp it, or they would give that valuable screen real-estate to something that attracts more reader interest. That they leave it in so prominent a place suggests the feature is achieving their desired goal, which of course is to attract page views, and therefore advertisers.
  7. oakapple

    The Bruni Thread

    As Sneakeater noted, Bruni's father used to take him to the Four Seasons once a year when he was a kid, so I don't think he grew up in poverty. But he probably didn't grow up on Park Avenue, either. This review sounded the recurring themes of Bruni's tenure. He thinks luxurious white-table-cloth restaurants are dinosaurs, and they're really not his cup of tea. When he spends his own money, this is not the type of dining he chooses. He was once asked what he'd choose for his final meal. The answer, as I recall, was pasta, a ribeye steak, and sushi. The heart-attack language, or versio
  8. oakapple

    The Bruni Thread

    Here's an example that disproves you. If you look up Oceana on the Times site, you get a page where its three-star rating is prominently displayed. The blurb states: "Oceana has found a new chef, and a new surge of energy. It feels, in fact, as fresh as one of its fish." No date is supplied, or anything that would tell you that this assessment is several years old. If you click through, there is a more lengthy write-up, but no link to the full review (which pre-dates Bruni) or any indication of when it was updated. To the contrary, I suspect the Times archives are being heavily used.
  9. oakapple

    The Bruni Thread

    But if you do detailed restaurant searches, there are restaurants listed with three-star ratings from previous reviewers. They did have the good sense to take away the rating for Sammy's Roumanian, which had three stars from Mimi Sheraton and hasn't been reviewed since.
  10. oakapple

    The Bruni Thread

    Given the number of three and four-star restaurants, they couldn't all get full re-reviews every two or three years. My suggestion is to increase the frequency of two-fer reviews. During the Mimi Sheraton and Bryan Miller eras, two restaurants per review was the norm, rather than the exception. Ruth Reichl started reviewing just one restaurant per review, a practice that William Grimes continued. Bruni has re-introduced the two-fer, but he does it only a few times a year. You'll find that Sheraton and Miller re-reviewed important restaurants quite frequently. Reviewing two restaurants per week
  11. oakapple

    A Voce

    I believe I read somewhere that Carmellini is now working on other projects—a Las Vegas branch, or something similar. That would be one explanation. The other is that A Voce is a very different type of restaurant than Café Boulud. It's larger, and built for table-turning. In that kind of place, it's harder to keep up the quality year after year.
  12. oakapple

    The Bruni Thread

    Grimes mentioned it in the Diner's Journal in 2001. His full review, awarding three stars, was in April 2002.
  13. oakapple

    The Bruni Thread

    There you go: it still has the three star rating. I am not going to look it up yet again, but I believe the rating is almost ten years out of date. Actually, William Grimes's review was less than six years ago. Investment analysts do this all the time. They reaffirm a previous BUY or HOLD etc rating, bump the earnings outlook by a penny, and dispatch the whole thing in a paragraph. Ben Brantley, the NYT theater critic, will occasionally do the same thing when a major performer in a play is changed. Not a full review, but a paragraph noting the change in this, or more e
  14. No, I've not. I've just not gotten around to it.
  15. oakapple

    The Bruni Thread

    Bruni's tenure is littered with missed opportunities and wasted reviews. But this time, he's getting it right. A chef change at Le Cirque deserves notice from the Paper of Record. There was a comment upthread about the review of Vong, which apparently someone didn't like. Well, that was a double review of Vong and Mercer Kitchen, neither of which had been reviewed in many years. Vong's three-star rating dated from the Bryan Miller era, and Bruni demoted it to one. If he thinks a restaurant is operating at a level two stars beneath its current rating, and it hasn't been reviewed in over a
  16. It has managed to survive despite being almost totally ignored by the critics.
  17. Thanks...I had forgotten Keens and Kobe Club. Add it to my list, and it's fair to say that Bruni has given steakhouses quite a bit of airtime indeed. You can assume that if he thought NYC had a better steakhouse, he'd have written about it by now. BLT Prime got the Diner's Journal treatment — basically implying that it was just a clone of BLT Steak, which as you note, Hesser had already reviewed. But he overlooked the rather significant fact that BLT Prime serves aged prime, and BLT Steak services choice. BLT Prime was an improvement on BLT Steak. Whether it was enough of an improvem
  18. It's hard to say, because the premise of Luger is the same as it always was. Bruni never said, "From now on, this type of place can never get three stars, even if it executes perfectly." Rather, he said that Luger was no longer executing as well as it once did. I do agree that the three-star steakhouse—by which I mean a restaurant where steak is the main attraction—would need to have more going for it than just great steak. A number of such places have opened on Frank Bruni's watch (Craftsteak, BLT Prime, Quality Meats, Porter House). Only one of them reached two stars, and that (Craftste
  19. Bruni has given steakhouses plenty of airtime, awarding two stars to Wolfgang's, Craftsteak and Luger. He awarded one at Robert's, Porter House, V Steakhouse and Primehouse, zero at STK. Am I forgetting any? I'm not sure I agree with his hierarchy, and he ignored some places that are better than the ones he reviewed. But he appears to be suggesting that two stars is the best a steakhouse can get.
  20. oakapple

    The Bruni Thread

    If the star system is to make any sense at all each reviewer surely has to adhere to similar standards. Those standards have evolved, though. Believe it or not, at one time McDonald's was awarded one star in the Times. That would be unthinkable today. Evolution comes slowly. As far as I know, no critic has ever arrived and said, "This is B.S. From now on, my stars are going to mean something completely different." But through their behavior, critics do nudge the system along. Ruth Reichl awarded three stars at a pace far in excess of her predecessors. Indeed, it was noticeable enoug
  21. I think Sneakeater and Nathan put too much emphasis on blocks and half-blocks. There certainly are right and wrong neighborhoods for restaurants. For instance, I doubt it's a coincidence that all of the NYT four-star restaurants are between 50th and 60th Streets. But I doubt that Daniel's success would be much different if it were a block or two away. Twenty blocks away? Yes; but not one or two. I think there were more issues with Urena than just the block it was on. They were charging upscale prices, and there aren't many precedents for getting away with that in a Spanish restaurant. Als
  22. I've been there only once, but my rating was two stars as well.
  23. oakapple

    The Bruni Thread

    And even in that review, he was answering a negative: "Why not Babbo?" I think Bruni's dilemma is that, although he is uncomfortable with those places, he isn't willing (or able) to really put his own stamp on the star system. All of his four-star reviews and most of his three-star reviews have more-or-less respected the traditional idea that the higher ratings require excellent food in a luxury (or at least upscale) setting. He's never come out and said, "I am uncomfortable with this." One can only infer it from what he says, and fails to say. Frank has the identical probl
  24. I think the "on-the-wrong-block" argument is over-stated, especially when "one block up would be fine". For the right restaurant, New Yorkers will walk a block. They'll walk many blocks. Heck, ten years ago we weren't talking about the "wrong block" on the LES. The neighborhood wasn't on the radar screen at all. But the right restaurants opened, and people came. What you're saying, I think, is that Suba just isn't that important a restaurant, and its fifteen minutes are up.
  25. oakapple

    Adour

    Yeah, I found it surprising how often the bartender (or whatever you call the bar person at a wine bar) disappeared. I wasn't going to say anything—because it was the first day—but I noticed that too, and I think it's something that needs tweaking.
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