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The Bruni Thread


Guest Aaron T

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So why not make one dish with all of these ingredients?

Bruni's complaint, I think, was that chefs seem to do it as a kind of "default luxury" (sort of like the offer to shave black truffles over any dish for an extra $42), and the return often isn't there. Heck, even Bar Q is offering a "trio of tartares."

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see, i'm much more likely to order an entree if it's two ways something - a find big piece of protein boring (with the exception of Centro's & Little Owl's pork chops but even those i share) - i'd rather taste as many different things as possible, even if some elements are weaker than others.

 

Sounds like you should be thrilled with the small plates/tapas trend.

i certainly don't diss it ;) i'm more likely to order 3 apps than an app & an entree. love places like Ssam Bar where you have lots of options size-wise

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Bruni's problem, and it is a perennial one, is that he thinks this is a quirk of New York chefs. Just like he thought the sunken floor under the table in the Japanese restaurant was a quirk of New York Japanese restaurants.

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I seem to recall at least one if not two articles in the NYT about La Caravelle's closing.

Oh, it was noticed alright (not by Frank), but it didn't get the kind of lengthy tribute that Florent got today. It's four pages on the web, plus a multi-media piece, plus a blog post.

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I think the closing is well-worthy of this kind of coverage. Florent isn't just a restaurant, it's emblematic of a New York that is slipping out of reach (and a colorful one at that).

 

I first went there in early 1986, after working on my first night-shoot in the city, in the meat-packing district. I remember being rather wowed by the fact that the tranny hookers wandering around in the background weren't extras, they were the real deal, going about their business. The MPD itself was beyond anything that any director or set designer could dream up ever, in every possible way. Maybe you aren't supposed to love that places like that existed, but I did.

 

After the light came up and we stopped filming, the director and I wandered off into the bedlam that effaced the night - the great slabs of meat, the noise and stench of it all. "Let's go to Florent," he said. "I'm hungry." So we ended up in that former diner filled with drag queens and club kids ending their nights and blue collar workers beginning their days.

 

It was too far out of my way to go there often, but I did go regularly. I used to go to Bastille Day there, because, well, how else would you want to celebrate Bastille Day but with a crowd like that? Every Bastille Day should be peopled with drag queens dressed as Marie Antoinette.

 

The New York City I moved to was a filthy, anarchic mess, in which anything could happen anytime and anywhere (for better or for worse). My friends and I were all starving artists who worked at jobs that paid the rent in order to support our real avocation: art, in its many different forms. Somewhere along the way, though, in the cleaning of the filth, in the taming of the anarchy, something else got lost. Yes, it's now a town in which people no longer have to watch their backs. You can take the subways at any hour of the night without fear. But where did all the fun go?

 

Along with that anarchy was an energy that drove everything. Maybe I'm just getting old, and can no longer work all day, make art at night and still find time to go dancing. Maybe it's the world that's gotten old. But Florent was inextricably linked to that part of my life, and when it goes, it feels like a little piece of me will die with it.

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I think the closing is well-worthy of this kind of coverage. Florent isn't just a restaurant, it's emblematic of a New York that is slipping out of reach (and a colorful one at that).

I don't doubt that Florent was important to the stratum of New York culture that frequented it. But restaurant closings don't normally attract that kind of coverage. I mentioned La Caravelle, which was open twice as long. Its closure also represented the end of an era—though it was a different era. Its closure was also important to a stratum of New York culture—though it was a different stratum. The Times covered it...but not like this.

 

There's no doubt in my mind that this was, in many ways, a story that Bruni felt personally. It is his story. It was he who reviewed Florent (giving it one star) when his predecessors had not considered it worth covering. It was he who has devoted a number of blog posts to it, in addition to today's multimedia festival.

 

I am skeptical of over-dramatizing the closure of a restaurant. This isn't "a New York that is slipping out of reach." It is simply a New York that has moved elsewhere—probably to Bushwick, or somewhere like that. New York's neighborhoods are always undergoing transformation. There is always a neighborhood somewhere that is today what the Meatpacking district was in 1983.

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I think H. is right. Just because that subculture wasn't important to you doesn't mean it wasn't important. I don't blame Bruni at all for writing about something that concerns him personally.

 

And this might just be my personal preferences and experiences coming to the fore, but I couldn't imagine anything similarly interesting to say about the closing of La Caravelle. There certainly have been pieces about the death of that kind of dining in New York in any event.

 

You know what? Every generation gets the chance to mourn the passing of its youth. This is Bruni's chance.

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I also have to say -- and as a long-time Brooklyn resident, it almost chokes me to do so -- that it's just different when neighborhoods like that move out of Manhattan.

 

I don't think Florent would be the same, as a phenomenon, if it were in some part of the Bronx or Brooklyn (actually, there's NO part of Brooklyn that remotely resembles the old Meatpacking District).

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