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Rolling the Dice: Tailor

Every week, we take our turn with Lady Luck on the BruniBetting odds as posted by Eater. Just for kicks, we track Eater’s bet too, and see who is better at guessing what the unpredictable Bruni will do. We track our sins with an imaginary $1 bet every week.

The Line: Tomorrow, Frank Bruni reviews Tailor, the first solo venture of the offbeat former WD–50 pastry chef, Sam Mason. The Eater oddsmakers have set the action as follows (√√ denotes the Eater bet):

Zero Stars: 6-1
One Star: 3-1
Two Stars: 4-1
Three Stars: 750-1
Four Stars: 25,000-1

The Skinny: It has been a rough ride for Tailor. Mason’s first mistake was chronicling his project in a Grub Street featurette called The Launch, thereby guaranteeing that the inevitable delays would make him look foolish, and ensuring the the restaurant would be so over-hyped that it could never live up to expectations.

Then the reviews started coming in, and frankly, no critic yet has been wowed. Indeed, the two stars I gave it might even have been too generous. The problem was a menu limited to about half-a-dozen smallish savory courses and an equal number of desserts. When you give the customer so few options, practically all of them need to be knockouts. And that’s a tough mark to hit when you’re playing with flavors in funky ways that people aren’t used to.

According to Tailor’s eGullet supporters, the menu has grown, which may be too little, too late. Bruni’s impressions will likely have been based on the original menu, which in the view of most critics, didn’t offer enough for a serious restaurant. The best items on Tailor’s menu are surely worth two stars (if not more), but too many of Mason’s best ideas are still in his head.

Eater is taking the one-star odds today, which seems smart. Bruni seldom rates a place higher than the rest of his colleagues, and he has been no great fan of avant-garde cuisine.

The Bet: We agree with Eater that Frank Bruni will award one star to Tailor.

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