Entries in Oak Room at the Plaza (2)


The Payoff: Oak Room at the Plaza

Today, Frank Bruni gives the Oak Room a one-star spanking from which it may not recover, finding that “there were letdowns, huge and many”:

I had meals stippled with disappointment. More than a few dishes were clumsily executed or vacuously luxurious. Seldom have I had so many black truffle shavings thrown at me to so little effect.

The prices aren’t crazy in the context of such truffling and trappings; in fact, they’re reportedly 25 percent lower than they were slated to be back in the early fall, before the economy deteriorated further.

But they remain steep enough — $34 for cod, $44 for a double-cut pork chop — to build expectations for meals more seamless than the ones I had… .

[F]or anyone seeking relatively firm assurance that a serious tab will mean serious pleasure, the Oak Room won’t do. It’s more looker than performer.

Make no mistake: the Oak Room was designed for three stars; to receive only one is a serious setback. Among new restaurants reviewed during Frank Bruni’s tenure, only V Steakhouse and the Russian Tea Room stand out as comparable smackdowns. The former is now closed; the latter fired its chef not long after the review.

I haven’t dined at the Oak Room, so I can only say that if Bruni had the meals he described, a one-star rating may be too generous—an insult to the many restaurants where one star actually means what it is supposed to mean: “good”.

In the wagering department, we have not been doing well since our BruniBetting feature resumed. We’ve been losing lately far more often than we’ve been winning. But this week, Eater was wrong too, so we both lose a dollar on our hypothetical bets.

  Eater   NYJ
Bankroll $110.50   $127.67
Gain/Loss –1.00   –1.00
Total $109.50   $126.67
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Won–Lost 50–24   51–23

Rolling the Dice: Oak Room at the Plaza

The Line: Tomorrow, Frank Bruni reviews the legendary Oak Room at The Plaza, recently under new management with a Michelin-lauded chef, Joel Antunes. The Eater oddsmakers have set the action as follows (√√ denotes the Eater bet):

Zero Stars: 20-1
One Star: 6-1
Two Stars: 3-1 √√
Three Stars:
Four Stars: 25-1

The Skinny: The poor Oak Room had the misfortune to open right into the headwind of the worst recession in a generation. The price of dinner here is more than a car payment. The cuisine is luxe Continental—always a tough sell in New York, even in the best of times.

Pro reviewers to date all give Chef Antunes his due, but none of them are shouting from the rooftops, “You must eat here!” — the way they did at Corton, for example. This isn’t a style of dining that has ever floated Frank Bruni’s boat, and we suspect he’ll find the high price point off-putting, unless everything served was absolutely perfect.

We agree with Eater that the odds between two and three stars are nearly in equipoise, and any other outcome would be surprising. Given Bruni’s track record, we agree that two stars is the slightly more probable outcome.

The Bet: We agree with Eater that Frank Bruni will most likely award two stars to the Oak Room.