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The Bruni Thread


Guest Aaron T

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What Yvonne has been saying - correctly, I believe - is not that only restaurants shooting for four stars should be reviewed, but only restaurants which it makes sense to rate under the four star system.

But what are the criteria that distinguish one from the other?

 

It's just not what the system is designed for.

But what was it designed for, and how do we know? It seems to me that the system that allowed McDonald's to get a star and Franny's to get two stars can accommodate the 2nd Avenue Deli.

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Yes it was me.

 

Same day the review appeared, he posted on the blog his actual opinions of a series of dishes, and the link to the Alex Witchel article which did cover the history very thoroughly last October. It is nothing short of extraordinary that this material was omitted from the review.

 

As for the new incarnation compared witht he old, I think I've read a few such comments - here's an example. It's not so important though, because unless someone tells me the food is suddenly notches better, it's not the kind of place I'd think of awarding stars to.

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What Yvonne has been saying - correctly, I believe - is not that only restaurants shooting for four stars should be reviewed, but only restaurants which it makes sense to rate under the four star system.

But what are the criteria that distinguish one from the other?

 

Unless I am being unclear, that's surely not a mystery. Who, as a random example, could think that Craftbar had the ambition to be a four star restaurant? (I pick that example because Craft has three stars, and Craftbar was not designed to outshine Craft).

 

It's just not what the system is designed for.

But what was it designed for, and how do we know? It seems to me that the system that allowed McDonald's to get a star and Franny's to get two stars can accommodate the 2nd Avenue Deli.

 

I can't speak to what Sokolov was thinking more than thirty years ago. It doesn't seem to me that the system as I am familiar with it is intended to give the one star "good" award to every Papaya King and McDonalds and Pret-a-Manger in the city, just because they do what they do well.

 

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Well Steve and Rose are the only ones who have said that and they visited together, and only once. For what it's worth. I didn't think it was discernably different than the old food. And allow me to mention yet again that the tongue was fabulous, as was the chopped liver with gribenes.

 

It is quite insane that none of those food comments appeared in the review. His piece wasn't actually a review at all. It was an entertainment piece, that somehow got a star attached.

 

 

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Well Steve and Rose are the only ones who have said that and they visited together, and only once. For what it's worth. I didn't think it was discernably different than the old food. And allow me to mention yet again that the tongue was fabulous, as was the chopped liver with gribenes.

 

I don't have a dog in that race, although I still say good tongue (if I may) is not star-worthy.

 

It is quite insane that none of those food comments appeared in the review. His piece wasn't actually a review at all. It was an entertainment piece, that somehow got a star attached.

Insane. Nuts. Culpably dumb.

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Thought it might be useful to bring this to the front again:

 

From the Pete Wells Q&A: (July 2007)

 

Q. How does the restaurant star rating system work? Is there some kind of written guideline that critics are expected to follow? Is there an attempt to be consistent from critic to critic?

 

A. Ah yes, the star system. I knew somebody would ask and so I had Frank Bruni standing by with an explanation. It's actually pretty straightforward:

 

'The only written guideline for the rating system is the one shared with the public in the boxes that accompany reviews. One star means good, two stars means very good, and on up the ladder, with those assessments incorporating questions not just of food quality and appeal but of service, atmosphere and cost. And there's no predetermined percentage: service counts for x much, atmosphere for y amount.

 

I'm guessing that each critic has looked at the work of his or her predecessors and tried to get a sense from it of how frequently or rarely the newspaper has, over time, doled out the different star ratings. But to my knowledge there's never been a mandate that a critic do so, and it's clear — and inevitable — that each critic has his or her own approach in this regard.

 

And I personally think that's fine, because with any change of critic, there's already a much bigger shift happening. The new person's reaction to restaurants is going to be his or own, and in large part subjective, just as reactions to books, movies and the like are. That's the nature of criticism.'

 

Frank's last point is really the key. We demand honesty of our critics. That means we want a critic with integrity, somebody who's incorruptible. But it also means somebody who can be honest with himself, who can write his own opinions rather than writing what he thinks is expected. We want a critic who calls 'em as he sees 'em (I really am going to send the sports metaphors to the showers after this). If everybody else in town thinks a restaurant's terrific and the critic doesn't, he's got to say that. And that applies to the stars just as much as to the way a review is written. The star system, being numerical, might give the illusion that there are objective mathematical guidelines — add up the scores for decor, service and food and get the total number of stars — but the stars are ultimately subjective, and the star system simply can't work any other way.

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Same day the review appeared, he posted on the blog his actual opinions of a series of dishes, and the link to the Alex Witchel article which did cover the history very thoroughly last October. It is nothing short of extraordinary that this material was omitted from the review.

honestly, what do you think is more important: celebrities or food?!

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Of course, since Bruni said nothing in the review about the food, except the size of the latke, we can't tell how he came to the one star conclusion (of course, as we all truly know, he just gave it a star because it seemed the right thing to do).

 

am I the only one who actually reads Bruni?

 

"still prides itself on cooking as well as sandwich making, a vanity supported by the meaty kreplach and the chicken soup, brimming with fresh dill, that I had at a later lunch."

 

"The brisket was a bigger hit, especially with me"

 

"“I will order the fattiest pastrami they make,” he said of his approach to deli food, and I nodded. I saw Nora and Laura nodding too. On this we agreed: life was too short to go any other route.

Our pastrami — on rye — turned out to be plenty fatty. It was borscht red. It glistened."

 

but, yeah, I agree with your parenthetical.

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What Yvonne has been saying - correctly, I believe - is not that only restaurants shooting for four stars should be reviewed, but only restaurants which it makes sense to rate under the four star system.

But what are the criteria that distinguish one from the other?

 

Unless I am being unclear, that's surely not a mystery. Who, as a random example, could think that Craftbar had the ambition to be a four star restaurant? (I pick that example because Craft has three stars, and Craftbar was not designed to outshine Craft).

I, for one, am unclear about your point. I agree that Craftbar—like many restaurants that Frank reviews—was not intended to be any better than a one or two-star restaurant.

 

It's just not what the system is designed for.

But what was it designed for, and how do we know? It seems to me that the system that allowed McDonald's to get a star and Franny's to get two stars can accommodate the 2nd Avenue Deli.

 

I can't speak to what Sokolov was thinking more than thirty years ago. It doesn't seem to me that the system as I am familiar with it is intended to give the one star "good" award to every Papaya King and McDonalds and Pret-a-Manger in the city, just because they do what they do well.

I believe that when Sokolov reviewed McDonald's, it was unique. He was probably reviewing the one and only McDonald's in town. There was no Wendy's, no Burger King, no Papaya King, no Pret-a-Manger. It was, in other words, critically noteworthy.

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The later lunch, I'll give you, but the other comments are pretty thin - why was the brisket good, did he like the fact that the meat glistened?

 

Contrast the blog:

 

And on the topic of favorites, I should name a few of my own. My favorite tongue sandwich from recent memory is the one at Katz’s. At the Second Avenue Deli, the tongue is too cold.

As far as pastrami, I think both Katz’s and the Second Avenue Deli are winners.

I think the corned beef at the Second Avenue Deli pales beside the pastrami, but I think corned beef always pales beside pastrami. Pastrami’s my preference.

It should in a best-case scenario be bracketed by rye bread with real character, and Second Avenue Deli presents only an acceptable-case scenario in this regard.

Oh, and I would like, without the burden of a transition, to put in a plug for the Second Avenue Deli’s matzo brei, which I had for breakfast the other day, along with a plain bagel, lox and parve cream cheese. The parve (neither meat nor milk) cream cheese spoiled my bagel experience, I have to say.

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What Yvonne has been saying - correctly, I believe - is not that only restaurants shooting for four stars should be reviewed, but only restaurants which it makes sense to rate under the four star system.

But what are the criteria that distinguish one from the other?

 

Unless I am being unclear, that's surely not a mystery. Who, as a random example, could think that Craftbar had the ambition to be a four star restaurant? (I pick that example because Craft has three stars, and Craftbar was not designed to outshine Craft).

I, for one, am unclear about your point. I agree that Craftbar—like many restaurants that Frank reviews—was not intended to be any better than a one or two-star restaurant.

 

I thought some had interpreted Yvonne as saying that the Times should only review restaurants which are clear contenders for the highest rating (hence cries of elitism). I think she was in fact saying that they should only review restaurants which are contenders to be rated somewhere on the four star scale.

 

Maybe I am making it all more confusing.

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What Yvonne has been saying - correctly, I believe - is not that only restaurants shooting for four stars should be reviewed, but only restaurants which it makes sense to rate under the four star system.

But what are the criteria that distinguish one from the other?

 

Unless I am being unclear, that's surely not a mystery. Who, as a random example, could think that Craftbar had the ambition to be a four star restaurant? (I pick that example because Craft has three stars, and Craftbar was not designed to outshine Craft).

I, for one, am unclear about your point. I agree that Craftbar—like many restaurants that Frank reviews—was not intended to be any better than a one or two-star restaurant.

 

I thought some had interpreted Yvonne as saying that the Times should only review restaurants which are clear contenders for the highest rating (hence cries of elitism). I think she was in fact saying that they should only review restaurants which are contenders to be rated somewhere on the four star scale.

 

Maybe I am making it all more confusing.

 

but a hypothetical awesome taco truck could be a contender for one star. why not?

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