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 Allen & Delancey, the place where Neil Ferguson re-surfaced after getting canned by Gordon Ramsay. The Eater oddsmakers have set the action as follows (√√ denotes the Eater bet):
Zero Stars: 5-1
One Star: 2-1 √√
Two Stars: 4-1
Three Stars: 7-1
Four Stars: 25,000-1
The Skinny: Bruni awarded two stars to Gordon Ramsay at The London, with Ferguson running the kitchen. For a restaurant of that calibre, it was a serious smackdown. If we take that review as a general indictment of Ferguson’s talent, then it doesn’t bode well for Allen & Delancey, where the overall mise en scène can’t compete with Ramsay’s uptown palace.
But I didn’t read the Ramsay review that way. The Times star system, particularly as Bruni interprets it, weighs price very heavily. All Bruni was saying was that, at these prices (among the highest in town), he expected more culinary fireworks. Now, I thought that Bruni missed the boat at GR, even allowing for his price-weighted grading curve. But even allowing for that, it doesn’t necessarily follow that Ferguson will get slammed at Allen & Delancey.
The other way of seeing it is that, at a much gentler price point, you get a chef whom Gordon Ramsay thought was capable of earning four stars—for there is no doubt that Ramsay intended his New York restaurant to compete with the city’s very best. All of the entrées at A&D are below $30, which in this era is practically bargain pricing for a chef with Ferguson’s pedigree. Of course, that’s still no guarantee that Bruni will like it, but I’m betting that A&D’s hearty rusticity will appeal to him.
At any rate, I liked it, and while Bruni’s tastes and mine don’t always coincide, I can’t help using my own reviews as a tie-breaker—clearly not a fool-proof betting strategy!!
The Bet: It’s a close call, but we predict that Frank Bruni will award two stars to Allen & Delancey.