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Rolling the Dice: Pamplona

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 Pamplona, the downmarket follow-up to the wonderful, but alas unsuccessful, Ureña. The Eater oddsmakers have set the action as follows (√√ denotes the Eater bet):

Zero Stars: 4-1
One Star: 2-1
Two Stars: 5-1
Three Stars: 50-1
Four Stars: 25,000-1

The Skinny: Bruni loved the food at Pamplona’s predecessor, Ureña, awarding two stars. Like almost everyone else, he hated the ambiance. I don’t have a photographic memory for décor, but when I visited it certainly seemed like the space had been spruced up a bit. Against that, the food is no longer as ambitious as it was, though it is still a cut above your run-of-the-mill tapas bar.

This situation will leave Señor Bruni in a quandary. If he awards two stars again, it implies that the dumbing down of the food doesn’t matter. But if he awards one star, he condemns Pamplona to the ratings never-never-land, for despite the nominal definition, one star never truly means good. This is one of those days when Bruni probably wishes he could award half-stars.

The Eater oddsmakers have concluded that a review at the low end of one star is a virtual certainty, offering just 2–1 odds on that outcome, and rating the chance of zero stars higher than two. I think Bruni will be truly torn between one and two stars here. He adored Ureña’s cooking the last time, and he is always rooting for earnest family-owned restaurants to succeed.

The Bet: We’re on the fence here, and wouldn’t mind if we were pulled away from blogging by an emergency phone call, which would spare us from having to place a bet. But place one we will, on two stars.

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