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Rolling the Dice: Bar Boulud

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 Daniel Boulud’s Lincoln Center charcuterie palace, Bar Boulud. The Eater oddsmakers have set the action as follows (√√ denotes the Eater bet):

Zero Stars: 8-1
One Star: 3-1
Two Stars: 4-1 √√
Three Stars:
Four Stars: 5,000-1

The Skinny: This week’s bet is a tough one, with the BruniTrends® balanced on a razor’s edge. Though early reviews haven’t been rapturous, you’ve got to figure that if anyone can right the ship, it would be Daniel Boulud, whose restaurants already carry nine New York Times stars. Charcuterie takes center stage here, and Bruni is a confirmed meathead. Lastly, the restaurant is on his beloved Upper West Side, where the grading is always easy.

But was Boulud able to correct things quickly enough? Reports of bumbling service still come across the transom fairly regularly, and aside from the charcuterie no one has really loved Bar Boulud—not counting celebrities who go there to “see and be seen.” Great charcuterie, on its own, is probably a one-star deal, and Bruni loves to take down celebrity haunts. Bruni has been awfully lenient lately, with five positive reviews in a row. If this keeps up, people might almost start to think he’s gone flaccid. Frank wouldn’t want that to happen, would he?

Alas, we can’t bring any personal experience to the decision: our own first look at Bar Boulud was on opening night, and we tasted too small a sample to get a good idea of the restaurant’s capabilities.

The Bet: Our reasons, we admit, are soft. But we feel that Bruni is overdue to bring someone crashing down to earth. We are betting that he’ll award one star to Bar Boulud, with strong praise for the charcuterie, but too many other things wrong to justify the second star.

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