Throughout his five year tenure as restaurant critic for The Times, Frank 'the Matador' Bruni has been a reliable source for a constant supply of devastating one liners (or, sometimes, four liners) peppered throughout some of his most epic takedown reviews. To do those zingers justice, Eater has culled through the Bruni archives to look back on some of the most memorable ones. The result: The Quotable Bruni.
20) Freemans: He [owner Taavo Somer] designed T-shirts with cheeky messages. One said, “My girlfriend is out of town.” Another: “Emotionally unavailable.” That’s the shirt that should be worn by some of the servers, including the bossy, brittle man who wouldn’t let us order the artichoke dip and the Cheddar toast [...] while we studied the rest of the menu.
19) Craftsteak: Forget the omnivore’s dilemma; this was more like the carnivore’s discombobulation...apart from the Wagyu beef, which was so pricey that being tasty was less an accomplishment than a contractual obligation, the steaks at Craftsteak proved disappointing.
18) Fishtail by David Burke: The décor hews to the culinary theme, including cartoon-bright fish paintings and, behind the bar, a tank of jellyfish whose quick, constant movement is the tip-off that they’re fake. Not even Shakira wriggles that relentlessly.
17) Wild Salmon: Wild Salmon swims in the Midtown location where other Chodorow restaurants, including English Is Italian, went belly-up.
16) Delicatessen: During dinner I enjoyed watching the Delicatessen pirouette, a 360-degree spin some patrons perform on the way to their seats, allowing them to appraise the room fully and be fully appraised by it.
15) The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro: It’s a mash-up of the Southwest, the Wild West, the Outback and maybe even Brokeback, with a menu of meaty chops, peppery rubs, crunchy starches, slick beans and a Noah’s ark of birdies and beasties including kangaroo.
14) Restaurant Charles: The lamb kebabs should be called tartare...The salmon, supposedly pan-seared, was more like pan-spurned...Charles is as stingy with heat as it is with light. Maybe it’s saving on utilities.
13) Ono: Gimmickry trumps gastronomy. Theme tyrannizes cuisine.
12) Robert's Steak House: We were strangers to such pulchritudinous territory, less susceptible to the scenery than other men might be, more aroused by the side dishes than the sideshow...
11) English is Italian: On the increasingly muddied plates in front of me and my friends, rightfully estranged sauces would mingle and unrelated species of flesh would ally.
10) Ago: The one I had one night was pounded so thin that the breading on top met the breading on the bottom without pausing for much of anything in between. A vegan could have made peace with it.
9) Secession: If you’ve seen Secession’s menu, you know that he needed both hands — and all his energy — for it alone. Some bath towels aren’t as big or floppy.
8) Kurve: Our waitress one night had apparently been told by management that the single thought to keep in mind — the single syllable — was glum. I wasn’t sure whether to give her a tip or a Zoloft.
7) Russian Tea Room: The chicken Kiev, unexpectedly straightforward, did a rubbery impersonation of airline food, and I mean coach…
5) Table 8: Another pasta was even worse: a gluey clump of linguine with a combination of ricotta and lemon that might as well have been Elmer’s and Pledge.
4) V Steakhouse: Like most other adult mammals I know, I usually manage to ingest food without the benefit of coaching, but then I do not usually eat in restaurants as assiduously convoluted as V Steakhouse, where servers are tutors and we diners their captive pupils.
2) Kobe Club: Hanging upside down from the ceiling in the nearly pitch-black dining room are sharp, gleaming samurai swords, about 2,000 of them. The server volunteered that number, appended with an assurance that the blades, firmly anchored, shouldn’t cause any concern. The food and the bill should.
1) Ninja: The first is described by a ninja escort as simple and direct. The second is “dark, dangerous and narrow,” involving a long tunnel and a drawbridge that descends only when your escort intones a special command, which he later implores you to keep secret. I recommend a third path: right back out the door.