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On the House: The Bruni Journal, Part II

On the House is our weekly column written by the owners and operators of the great food and beverage establishments of New York. Your resident proprietor is William Tigertt of Freemans, who it turns out will get Bruni'd tomorrow.

When we last saw our hero, he had just hosted Evan, a Times photographer, for a photo shoot. Still unknown was whether The Bruni would be filing a formal review or not. And away we go.

The Bruni Journal, Part II
Friday, September 15th
The day after the photo shoot we get the call from Bruni. In a Buster Keatonish mix up of flying phones; we inadvertently hang up on him. It takes an agonizing four minutes for him to call back.

“This is Frank Bruni from the New York Times. I’d like to set up a time tomorrow when I could ask a few questions for review I’m writing on your restaurant.” We make an appointment for 1:00. I get his info to send him menus. The conversation lasts all of three minutes. It’s officially not a blog entry.

Saturday, September 16th
“So what’s he like?” was the first words out of AF’s mouth when I see her on the street after the interview.

“He was really nice and polite. He was really specific in his questions. He obviously cares about what he does.”

“Of course he does, he’s too good not to care. Bruni should raffle off a dinner date for charity. I know a lot of women that would jump on it.” I elaborate the minutia of the interview. He asked mostly about the expansion, how our menu has changed, questions about the kitchen and décor. I tell AF that I have Bruni’s contact information, and I could set her up. Her eye twinkles at the concept of a Bruni blind date, but seems to play it down out of consideration for my ego.

Monday September 18th, 2006
The Dining section fact checker, Elaine, calls and verifies all hours and info for the box next to the review. It’s running Wednesday. So there’s nothing to do now, but wait. It used to be a downtown tradition to go out on an all night bender the Tuesday night before your review landed. You could grab the first edition of the paper a mere forty-five minutes after 4:00AM last call. The newsstand at Astor place supposedly got one of the first drops or it might just be the closest to all the East Village bars.

It makes me sad to think that tomorrow night I will sitting in my office in front of a computer clicking reload on the New York Times webpage until carpal tunnel syndrome sets in. I would much rather be carousing dive bars with my co-workers, self-medicating our jitters, and celebrating whatever victories and setbacks the past two years of New York has thrown at us.

At this stage in the game the Big Review won’t make or break us. It will put our mark in the Big Book, though. It will fix us in a point in time in the ever-changing theater of New York nightlife. After thousands of customers have come and gone, meals served good and bad; it’s something permanent and a validation of our hard work. More than anything, it means that we’ve made it this far, and that alone is worth celebrating.


This story was filed before anyone in the Freemans organization had knowledge of how many stars the Times would award. It should in no way be seen as an anticipatory rebuttal to the review.

· On the House: The Bruni Journal, Part I [~E~]
· On the House: The Best Burger Downtown [~E~]

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