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 Robert’s Steakhouse. Eater’s official odds are as follows:
Zero Stars: 3-1
One Star: 2-1
Two Stars: 6-1
Three Stars: 25-1
Four Stars: 25,000-1
The Skinny: There are restaurants that Bruni has to review (celebrity chef; high-profile opening; famous restauranteur), and there are those he chooses to review. Robert’s is in the latter category. It has been open for a good long while, and is well off the foodie radar. Its inhospitable perch in the Penthouse Lounge at 11th Avenue and 49th Street is hardly likely to draw much walk-in traffic. It would therefore make no sense for Bruni to choose such an unexpected target, only to slam it, so we can expect a favorable review. The only question is: one star or two?
Unless Bruni is totally unhinged, this should be at best a one-star review. Indeed, we stand by last year’s zero-star rating. Great steak isn’t hard to find in Manhattan. So why go to an ugly neighborhood and pay a high premium for what is essentially a commodity item? Of course, if what you really want is a strip club, it’s nice to know a good steak is available, but Bruni reviews restaurants, not strip clubs.
Yet, Bruni’s discretionary reviews—the ones he chooses to write—have tended to bestow two-star ratings. There’s a logic to this. There are probably hundreds of one-star restaurants that the Times will never get around to reviewing. Why pick a restaurant out of nowhere, just to award one star? There’s also the Jeffrey Chodorow angle: show the man what a real steakhouse looks like.
The Bet: We are going out on a limb, and predicting (against our better judgment and Eater’s) that Bruni will award two stars to Robert’s steakhouse.