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Rolling the Dice: Bar Bao and The West Branch

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 has a two-fer, with Michael Bao Huynh’s BarBao and Tom Valenti’s The West Branch going under the microscope. The Eater oddsmakers have set the action as follows (√√ denotes the Eater bet):

Zero Stars:
One Star: 2-1 √√
Two Stars:
Three Stars: 35-1
Four Stars: 35,000-1

West Branch
Zero Stars:
One Star: 3-1
Two Stars: 2-1 √√
Three Stars: 5-1
Four Stars: 20,000-1

The Skinny: Bruni’s double reviews usually have a theme. Here, it is geography: both places are on Bruni’s beloved Upper West Side, where a deuce is always in play. You wonder, though, why a new two-star restaurant would be relegated to sharing a review, when trivial one-star places have so often been given reviews to themselves.

Frank Bruni has reviewed Michael Bao Huynh twice, awarding one star at Bao 111 and two at Mai House. When we visited, we found BarBao a touch less exciting—less polished—than Mai House.

We haven’t made it to The West Branch yet, but reviews have generally been positive. It’s a less ambitious version of Valenti’s other restaurant, Ouest, but as Eater notes, Bruni could give bonus points for serving pretty good grub at recession-friendly prices.

The Bet: We are betting that Frank Bruni will award one star apiece to BarBao and The West Branch.

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