The Line: Tomorrow, Frank Bruni reviews Kefi, the new Michael Psilakis/Donatella Arpaia Greek dining barn on the Upper West Side. The Eater oddsmakers have set the action as follows (√√ denotes the Eater bet):
Zero Stars: 20-1
One Star: 4-1 √√
Two Stars: 3-1
Three Stars: 55-1
Four Stars: 50,000-1
The Skinny: Frank Bruni clearly has a hard-on for this place. For a guy who has never taken much to blogging, his breathless panting over the new Kefi has been remarkable. And he really loves Michael Psilakis, having given him two stars on four occasions (Onera, Dona, Anthos, and Mia Dona). We are on vacation this week, so we are too lazy to insert links to those reviews, so you’ll have to google them yourself.
Anyhow, you can bet that Bruni walked into Kefi wanting desperately to love it. Nevertheless, we agree with Eater that to the extent there are “rules” for getting two stars, Kefi breaks an awful lot of them. Bruni has been less inclined to follow those unwritten rules than his predecessors, but he tends to break them for earnest “family” places, not for the kind of assembly-line food served at Kefi.
I would add that we hated Kefi, though that is not influencing our judgment one bit.
Eater mentions the Ssäm Bar exception, where there are currently three NYT stars, despite a zero-star atmosphere and one-star service. Despite our occasional carping, we do know Ssäm Bar. Ssäm Bar is a friend of ours. Kefi, you are no Ssäm Bar. We suspect, or at least hope, that Bruni will recognize that Kefi is not going to feature the kind of constant innovation that could justify a two or three-star rating for a path-breaking restaurant like Ssäm Bar. The two just aren’t comparable.
The Bet: We agree with Eater that Frank Bruni will award one star to Kefi.