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Review Recap: Monkey Bar

Today, Frank Bruni awarded one star to Monkey Bar:

It’s a clubhouse, its members making their way to it not from the 18th hole but from the vanity fairways of Condé Nast, I.C.M., Time Warner and the like. Maybe they take a moment to glance at the listed appetizers and entrees, maybe not. It hardly matters, because they’ve been here often enough to know what’s what, and the lighting is too magnanimously dim for an annoyance like reading.

The obvious question is: why?

It opened about four months ago. But it didn’t open equally to everyone, as I learned when I called, using a pseudonym, to make a reservation. I wasn’t simply told that 6:30 was the closest to a prime time that I could hope for; I was told that anything better was for people with private lines to the owners…

All of that would be more objectionable if it weren’t just an amplified — and curiously forthright — version of the haughty games so many restaurants play.

And it would be less forgivable if there wasn’t actually something to savor on the far side of the velvet rope, along with signs that Mr. Carter and his crew truly care about that.

So let me see if I have this straight. It’s almost impossible to get in at a reasonable time, unless you’re a friend of Graydon Carter’s. And once you do get in, you’re as liable as not to be served mediocre food. Maybe you’ll see a celebrity or two…but you can do that on TV.

Once again, Bruni awards one star—supposedly meaning “good”—to a restaurant that isn’t good, thereby making it impossible to give one star to the restaurants that have truly earned it.

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