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The Bruni Thread


Guest Aaron T

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I just can't help pointing it out since the pastry chef is a friend and I'm really happy for him:

 

Oceana’s pastry chef, Jansen Chan, who started last year, is as attuned to texture as Mr. Pollinger, or at least that’s what I deduce from his frozen banana mousse, presented with both sticky rice and puffed, caramelized rice. It’s the transmogrification of a bowl of Rice Krispies with bananas into dessert, and it’s killer, though it only barely edges out the chocolate chip-pecan bar. Desserts on the whole are splendid. ...

In any case a year is longer than you should wait to taste what Mr. Pollinger and Mr. Chan can do. They’ve put new wind in Oceana’s sails.

 

(And while I wouldn't generally use Bruni as affirmation I just love to say I told you so! About Jansen's deserts, that is.)

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Fair enough. I never knew it.

i think they tend to fly under the radar with the dining public, but are well known in the industry

 

Except when you go to open Oceana's website.

 

I'd advise them to change the URL. Nothing against Molyvos, but Oceana surely doesn't want to be perceived as a branch of Molyvos.

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I suspect Bryan Miller would look around now and say he was right.

Not if he reads his own writing, because he was writing about what he perceived what was happening then, not what he thought would happen in the distant future. If you predict the Knicks are going to win the NBA title, and they do so 16 years later, you can't say, "See, I told you so."

 

Sigh. If we must be meticulously specific, my suggestion was that he might think the age of formal dining is essentially over, leaving only three or four super luxe places and the rump of the old guard, and thus that the outcome had been that which he had foreseen.

The problem is definitional. I consider Oceana to be in the "formal" category, so as I see it the genre is alive and healthy. It appears you put Oceana in some other category (I am not sure what), and hence you think the genre is dead.

 

The trouble with your definition is that it is tied to some arbitrary point in the past, when the definition of formality was fixed in amber. As I see it, formality is always a reflection of its own time. Otherwise, how do you identify that imaginary date when the definition of formality took its final shape, against which all restaurants from then on would be measured and inevitably found wanting?

 

Bruni is forgiven, by the way. Like a lot of people, I thought this was going to be a demotion to two stars, and I thought, "What's the point of demoting a place just before it moves?" But it is never too early to recognize excellence—especially excellence that very few people in these parts seem to have known about. I give Bruni credit in another sense: he has not usually been the one to find gems overlooked by others. I'd say Oceana is worth another visit.

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Bruni is forgiven, by the way. Like a lot of people, I thought this was going to be a demotion to two stars, and I thought, "What's the point of demoting a place just before it moves?" But it is never too early to recognize excellence—especially excellence that very few people in these parts seem to have known about. I give Bruni credit in another sense: he has not usually been the one to find gems overlooked by others. I'd say Oceana is worth another visit.

 

I agree completely. A useful and appropriate review. (He even dealt with the matter of the impending move, explaining where news of it fell in the review process and why he didn't think it prevented his publishing the review anyway.)

 

And like you, I'll be going out of my way to go there soon.

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I suspect Bryan Miller would look around now and say he was right

Not if he reads his own writing, because he was writing about what he perceived what was happening then, not what he thought would happen in the distant future. If you predict the Knicks are going to win the NBA title, and they do so 16 years later, you can't say, "See, I told you so."

 

Sigh. If we must be meticulously specific, my suggestion was that he might think the age of formal dining is essentially over, leaving only three or four super luxe places and the rump of the old guard, and thus that the outcome had been that which he had foreseen.

The problem is definitional. I consider Oceana to be in the "formal" category, so as I see it the genre is alive and healthy. It appears you put Oceana in some other category (I am not sure what), and hence you think the genre is dead.

 

The trouble with your definition is that it is tied to some arbitrary point in the past, when the definition of formality was fixed in amber. As I see it, formality is always a reflection of its own time. Otherwise, how do you identify that imaginary date when the definition of formality took its final shape, against which all restaurants from then on would be measured and inevitably found wanting?

 

First, it's a comprehension problem, not a definitional problem. I am not disputing Oceana's formality - I haven't been there in ten years, but from Bruni's description, it "hews to the staid idiom" as much as ever. I thought I said quite clearly above that the fact that a formal restaurant opened sixteen years ago hardly points to the current prosperity of the genre. (Oh, it has survived of course, but very much - as Bruni points out - on the fringe of consciousness of even avid diners.) If you could show me somewhere like Oceana or Cello opening this summer, it would be a tick in your column.

 

Second, we seem to be at complete cross purposes. My contention is that formal restaurant sector in the solemn, white-tableclothed French-European tradition is manifestly declining - even on life support. I've posted again and again that I don't mean expensive, upscale dining in the city is threatened at all. If you want to call some modern style which breaks with that tradition "formal" - Kobe Club, maybe? - be my guest, but it's not relevant to what I've been saying.

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If you want to call some modern style which breaks with that tradition "formal" - Kobe Club, maybe? - be my guest, but it's not relevant to what I've been saying.

 

Kobe Club is, of course, a straw man.

 

It would be useful if Wilfrid and Oakapple were both to say whether they consider Cru "formal".

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I haven't been in a long time. As far as I remember, service leaned towards formal; the ambience, not so much. It's surely clear that what I really have in mind are places like La Cote Basque, Caravelle, Le Cirque, La Grenouille, Perigord, San Domenico, the Restaurant at the Carlyle, Danube, March..."restaurants that hew to a staid idiom of tables draped in cloth and servers dressed in suits aren’t speaking the preferred language of many younger diners", as Frankula neatly puts it.

 

Where this all started was that I had been amazed at the extent to which Country - quite unlike Town - embraced that tradition.

 

ETA: Looking for an illustration, if you click on the dining room at Country's web-site and select gallery, I think you'll see what I mean.

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Looks like Bruni did have this under his belt before he knew about the move.

Yes, he was clearly far along that path. I know there have been a few cases where he had to abandon a review because an intervening event made it irrelevant. This one he was able to justify, and it made sense.

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