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Rolling the Dice: Le Cirque

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 re-reviews one of the city’s few remaining grand dames of French glory, Le Cirque. The Eater oddsmakers have set the action as follows (√√ denotes the Eater bet):

Zero Stars: 9-1
One Star: 8-1
Two Stars: 5-1
Three Stars: EVEN
Four Stars: 25,000-1

The Skinny: Our view is the same as Eater’s: any outcome except three stars would be extremely surprising. Let’s roll out the BruniTrends®:

This is the fourth time Bruni has re-visited one of his own past reviews—his first review of Le Cirque was just over eighteen months ago. In each prior case (Eleven Madison Park, Craftsteak, Alto), the result was an upgrade. Indeed, most of Bruni’s re-reviews—even when the prior review was by another critic—have resulted in a change of rating.

No one has suggested that Le Cirque has gotten worse over the last eighteen months, and there is quite a bit of evidence that it has gotten better. As Adam Platt noted in his year-end round-up for New York, “perhaps the most impressive kitchen overhaul of all has taken place at Le Cirque, where Sirio Maccioni’s latest chef, Christophe Bellanca, has expanded the pricey, formerly stolid menu to include a whole variety of sophisticated, radically pricey new treats.”

We also rated Le Cirque three stars when we visited late last year.

If this review turns out as we are predicting, other BruniTrends® will need to be re-calibrated. In over 3½ years on the job, Bruni has never yet awarded three or four stars to a classically luxurious French restaurant, unless he was re-affirming (or reducing) a prior critic’s rating. One could safely have assumed that it was not a format that interested him. After tomorrow, we may no longer be able to make such assumptions.

To the best of my recollection, this is the first time Eater has set even-money odds on any outcome, and I believe it is also the largest gap between the most likely and second-most likely outcomes. There are good reasons for this: everything points to three stars this week.

The Bet: We are betting that Frank Bruni will award three stars to Le Cirque.

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