The Bruni Digest

In which I sit on a dirt mound somewhere in Brooklyn with my ears pricked, waiting for New York Times head restaurant critic Frank Bruni, who I imagine to be a Venetian count in a huge ruffled collar, to dole out stars from the inside breast pocket of his brocaded chamber robe. This blog is predicated on the suggestion that every Wednesday, in the Times Dining Out section, Frank lays a huge faberge egg of hilarity.

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Location: New York, New York, U.S. Outlying Islands

I am fiscally irresponsible, which means I have weak bones and a dorsal fin. And a penchant for dining out, even though I am, in the words of many rich people, a "poor people". I make a different face when speaking each of the foreign languages in which I am shittily proficient.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Waverly Inn: Ye Have Lost Ye Mind

Ok I’ll admit that I’ve been in a vegetable state for the past few weeks…

… but like a 102-year-old in a nursing home who can still pop one for Barker’s Babes, when Frank goes as nuts as he did this week I get out of my wheelchair with a tent in my dockers screaming “I still got it in me! I still got it!”

Yes, it’s Free Bar of Gold Day for Frank Bruni satirizers and, I would argue, for Graydon Carter, whose Waverly Inn got it pretty easy from the Count. And by easy I mean completely crazy.

But before addressing Lady Huffypussy’s email correspondence (just wait) let’s pause briefly to salute Frank’s Critic’s Notebook complaint about being made to kow-tow before the city’s luminary chefs. The article included probably the funniest image ever cobbled together in Times Dining:


Oh, except for this one back in 1993, when someone was just having fun with Clarisworks:

Oh the heady early days of photoshopping. My what fun they had.

Anyway, for his review this week of Graydon Carter’s clubhouse Waverly Inn, Frank took a nom de plume, writing, in email format, as:

"Frannie Von Furstinshow," writing from the email account "FURSTINSHOW@guccipucci.com>"

Glossing completely over how disgusting "guccipucci" is, I'd like to not that this has happened before: Frank made up a fake interlocutor (a broad hybrid of A-hole meatpacking cruisers) when reviewing Sasha, and everyone wondered if it was a real person. Clearly it’s a sock puppet on Frank’s left hand.

Except way less inadvertently peeny.

Don’t worry about the sock puppet interfering with the typing; the Count dictates to a manservant who writes in a wax tablet with Dior eyeliner.

Frannie Von Furstinshow represents a sort of block-headed fancypants in-crowd stereotype. She begins her letter to “Dear Graydon” with a quibble, and no, it’s not about his maxi-pad haircut:

Now extra thin! With extra wide wings!

Frank, aka Frannie, begins:

“First, dear, a quibble: Demi? On the cover? Back when she was large (and naked!) with a child destined for a nutty celebrity-spawn name, it made sense. But if ‘Bobby’ is a comeback, I went to a state university.”

Get it? Cause rich people are snobby about state schools!

I'd like to point out that that’s just rude…

Chief Burning Asshole, the Florida State mascot, finds that quip incredibly insensitive.

But Frannie Von Tinklepot raves about the place:

“Now, applause: Waverly. Love it. I laugh when I hear it called a restaurant, as if it were anything so mundane and (apologies to Demi) pregnable.”

Those of us who are both extremely mundane (check) and extremely pregnable (well…my fallopian tubes are connected to a beer helmet right now but I could probably have the operation reversed) shouldn’t be offended here.

Frannie’s talking about the rigamarole you’ve got to go through to get a reservation at this exclusive spot, which, according to Frannie’s account, not only pretends to be closed, but won’t take phone reservations.

The foreboding door to Waverly Inn.

Frannie loves that “we have a Toots Shor’s of our own, a Stork Club without the plumage. I think back to that night in London at the Groucho Club (remember how everyone was trying not to stare at Martin Amis’s new teeth?!) and how we agreed that New York needed an English gentlemen’s club that didn’t take English gentlemen as members.”

Ah the conundrum of the English gentleman. Love the wit, hate the yard-long wake of hoppy beer gas.

Speaking of wit, Frank is really giving some pissy satiric sauce to Graydon's trans-Atlantic fashiono-literary crew. There’s too much crazy business here for me to excerpt it all. This one is a surefire must-read, start to finish.

OK, goodnight. Oh whoops, wait! The food!

Frannie likie: “chef John DeLucie is doing some of the best tuna tartare in town (all that creamy avocado and zingy heat!), plus a hefty and juicy pork chop, a classically blissful Dover sole, an addictive clam chowder, a gorgeous fillet of wild salmon (with those adorable little beluga lentils) and …feloniously fatty short ribs….”

Wow. Get in there, Fannie. Not so much a social X-ray as a social XL.

At Fannie’s last showing at the East Hampton Equestrian Show, many in the audience smiled to her face but secretly whispered about what the addiction to clam chowder had done to her judgment, not to mention her once-lithe ass.

We know the Inn is only getting one star, but Frank’s/Frannie’s review barely pauses the praise. Frannie hints at some disappointments (“the dull chicken pot pie and the humdrum crab cakes and the functional strip steak”) but ends with a sweeping conclusion about how genuinely great the place is:

“It’s not just about an A-list daisy chain of writers, actors, models. It’s not just about ringside seats to the latest Perelman-Barkin smackdown.
It’s about the ease and privilege of being among people who reflect your brainiest, prettiest sense of self.”

For those of you (whom Frannie calls “the lemmings”) unable to score a reservation, who would nevertheless like to see two divorced people engage in a smackdown, Rita and Derek Huffenblatt will be battling over custody of their ’82 Nissan Sentra at the Applebee’s in Elmhurst from now until Rita jams a press-on nail into Derek’s cornea sometime past midnight.

Less glitzy than Perelman-Barkin, sure, but there's a far far higher likelihood that one of them will call the other a "slutbucket." You take what you can get.

On the theme of dysfunctional couples, today’s Times has really reminded me how much Frank and I are meant to be. Or at least how badly Frank wants me to make fun of him. Hey guy, if you want to switch panties and hold hands, give me a call, m’kay?

Missed ya, buddy.