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 Primehouse New York, Stephen Hanson’s contribution to Manhattan’s over-saturated steakhouse industry. The Eater oddsmakers have set the action (√√ denotes the Eater bet):
Zero Stars: 4-1
One Star: 3-1 √√
Two Stars: 4-1
Three Stars: 50-1
Four Stars: 25,000-1
The Skinny: Bruni loves steakhouses. It’s his second favorite cuisine, after Italian. The trouble is, his steakhouse reviews are unpredictable. With Italian cuisine, you know he will rate the restaurant one star higher than it would receive if the chef were French. With steakhouses, there’s just no telling.
He awarded two stars to: Peter Luger, Craftsteak (re-review), Keens, and Wolfgang’s. He awarded one star to: Craftsteak (first review), Harry’s Steak, Porter House, Robert’s Steakhouse and V Steakhouse. He awarded zero stars to Kobe Club and STK. Numerous others—including some clearly better than those that won full reviews—got the Diner’s Journal treatment: BLT Prime, Capital Grille, Chemist Club, Quality Meats, Staghorn Steakhouse. (Phew! Am I leaving any out?)
That brings us to Primehouse New York. The two available data points are my review and Adam Platt’s. I hesitate to admit I have anything in common with Adam Platt, but both of us are confirmed carnivores, and both of us awarded two stars. Cutlets also likes it. Weighing against Primehouse are its steep prices and Bruni’s general hostility towards chain or “chain-like” restaurants.
There’s virtually no doubt that Primehouse has superlative cuts of meat and knows how to prepare them. Bruni’s rating will come down to his assessment of everything else: ambiance, service, and the non-steak dishes. My sense is that Bruni has gotten tougher on steakhouses—Wolfgang’s (reviewed less than a month into his tenure) might not get the same two stars if it opened today. His other two-star steakhouses have a “destination” appeal that Primehouse, despite its merits, does not really offer.
The Bet: We’ve vacillated all day, but it’s almost review time, so we have to make a decision. We agree with Eater that Bruni will award one star to Primehouse New York.