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Rolling the Dice: Oceana

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 the three-star seafood palace, Oceana. The Eater oddsmakers have set the action as follows (√√ denotes the Eater bet):

Zero Stars: 8-1
One Star: 6-1
Two Stars: 3-1 √√
Three Stars:
Four Stars: 90-1

The Skinny: Oceana has been around a long time. It replaced an old French standby called Le Cygne in 1992, earning two stars from Bryan Miller. Rick Moonen’s arrival in the kitchen prompted a two-star re-review from Ruth Reichl in 1994, which she bumped up to three stars in 1997. After Moonen left to open his own place, Cornelius Gallagher took over, and Oceana’s three-star status was reaffirmed by William Grimes in 2003.

Gallagher is long gone, but if you check out the Times website, it still says, “Oceana has found a new chef, and a new surge of energy. It feels, in fact, as fresh as one of its fish.” At least, it will say that for a few more hours. That surge of energy dates back to the Grimes review. So Oceana was probably overdue for an update, but we have to wonder about the timing, given the move to a new address planned for next year. The Times waited this long, so couldn’t they have waited twelve months longer?

No matter. The question is, what will Bruni say? Our own experience with Oceana isn’t particularly relevant. Gallagher was still there, and it was two years ago on Valentine’s Day, hardly the best day to test a restaurant’s mettle.

We have to agree with Eater that two stars is the most likely outcome here. Oceana has become a three-star backwater—a restaurant no one talks about. Bruni tends to give three stars to places that generate a lot of excitement. If Oceana is doing that, it hasn’t been written up in any of the publications I follow. I have no idea what Oceana deserves, but I have a pretty strong inkling of what Bruni will say it deserves: two stars.

The Bet: We agree with Eater that Frank Bruni will msot likely award two stars to Oceana

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