Entries in The E.U. (2)


The Payoff: The E.U.

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

Rolling the Dice: The E.U.

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 reviews The E.U., a restaurant best known for its eighteen-month odyssey to obtain a liquor license. In the kitchen is Ahktar Nawab, formerly the acclaimed chef de cuisine at Craftbar.  Eater’s official odds are as follows (√√ denotes the Eater bet):

Zero Stars: 3-1
One Star: 3-1
Two Stars: 8-1
Three Stars: 85-1
Four Stars: 25,000-1

The Skinny: We don’t really have much to go on this week. Bruni tends to lag the other reviewers, so by the time he gets to a place, there’s a body of critical opinion already out there. That’s not so for The E.U., but we rely on Eater’s report that “Chef Nawab’s food has ranged from legitimately very good to wildly less so.”

The menu is also not in The E.U.’s favor, with its polyglot categories: raw bar, tapas, charcuterie, panini, along with standard appetizers and entrées. Bruni tends to think—and here I agree with him—that a restaurant trying to do so many things will usually misfire on some of them.

If Bruni is grading on his “downtown curve,” there’s an outside shot at two stars. On the whole, we think one star is the safer bet.

The Bet: We agree with Eater that Frank Bruni will award one star to E.U.