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 Commerce, the West Villager brought to you by two Montrachet alums, Tony Zazula and Harold Moore. The Eater oddsmakers have set the action as follows (√√ denotes the Eater bet):
Zero Stars: 6-1
One Star: 2-1 √√
Two Stars: 3-1
Three Stars: 9-1
Four Stars: 25,000-1
The Skinny: It has been a long time since we hated—I mean, really hated—a restaurant, coupled with a near-total belief that there was nothing the management could do to rescue the place. But that was how we felt about Commerce, which we detested in every way imaginable.
Yet, every critic to review Commerce has given Harold Moore his due: the guy can cook. Based on the series of kitchens he has run, I have to assume the turgid entrées they served us were atypical. Based on the reviews, I have to assume that the team at Commerce usually have their act together—or at least, that they know a critic when they see one.
The ambiance here is so unpleasant that I was tempted to change my rating system to allow negative stars, but it’s clear the critics in town—while recognizing the drawbacks—didn’t deduct as many style points as I did. And Bruni’s verdict is seldom far off of the critical mainstream.
There’s also the dicta in Bruni’s Chop Suey review, in which he was trying to figure out where to take a friend visiting from Spain. The places he considered, besides Chop Suey? Adour, Mia Dona, and Commerce. The reviews are in on the first two, both positive. He’s not likely to have considered taking his friend to a restaurant he disliked. Then again, he took the friend to Chop Suey!
The Bet: Though torn, we agree with Eater that Commerce is likely to just barely cross the finish line with two stars.