Yesterday, as expected, Frank Bruni awarded one star to The E.U.
The headline—“Where the Motto Is: Try, Try Again”—isn’t one of his better inspirations. It puts undue emphasis on The E.U.’s past troubles, which I must admit make an interesting story. But NYT reviews need to be written with a long shelf-life in mind. Even major restaurants (such as The Four Seasons, reviewed last week) go many years between reviews. A minor one, like The E.U., might never be reviewed again, making this the newspaper’s (likely) final word on the restaurant—something that will turn up on google searches and be read for years to come.
With that in mind, is this how the review should end?
As a watering hole, the E.U. actually feels charmed, though I articulate that with my fingers crossed (a tough trick when you’re typing), and in spite of my parting glance at the restaurant around midnight one busy, noisy night. I walked out as three grim-faced police officers walked in.
On a more positive note, his first mention of the food came in the sixth paragraph, a considerable improvement over Rosanjin two weeks ago, when the food wasn’t mentioned till paragraph fifteen. And the review made me want to visit the restaurant, which is always a good sign.
The review was also a useful reminder that one star, despite being near the low end of the Times rating scale, means “good.” Often, the restaurants awarded one star don’t actually sound all that good: at that level, it usually seems like the critic is explaining why the restaurant isn’t two or three stars, which can’t help but convey a negative impression. Bruni’s review of The E.U., although not without its negatives, actually reads like what a “good” one-star review is supposed to be.
Eater and NYJ both took the one-star bet at 3–1 odds, winning $3 on our hypothetical $1 wager.
Eater NYJ Bankroll $14.00 $21.67 Gain/Loss +$3.00 +$3.00 Total $17.00 $24.67 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Won–Lost 6–2 7–1