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BruniBetting: West Branch and BarBao

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Tomorrow Frank Bruni takes a break from trekking all over the city to review two newcomers to his beloved Upper West Side, Tom Valenti's West Branch and Michael Huyhn's BarBao. Today, the Eater oddsmakers have set the action as follows:

Zero Stars: 6-1
One Star: 2-1 ??
Two Stars: 5-1
Three Stars: 35-1
Four Stars: 35,000-1
West Branch
Zero Stars: 7-1
One Star: 3-1
Two Stars: 2-1 ??
Three Stars: 5-1
Four Stars: 20,000-1
Both restaurants are known to be solid neighborhood additions: they both earn points for decor and ambiance, both are a relative steal for the area, and both come from seasoned chefs. Chances are neither one of these puppies is going to get the goose egg here, even if the Brunz's intrinsic UWS bias weren't being employed (which you can bet, it is). The question is, which, if either, will get the deuce?

Though The Cuozz is head over heels for BarBao and the RG is on the same page, the deuce for Michael Huyhn is a slight reach here. Service and food is fine, but we just don't see it.

West Branch is another story. It's Ouest's chef Tom Valenti scaling things down, making his food affordable, and it's perfect timing for a Bruni recession/UWS angle (NB: UWS pioneer Ouest won the deuce back in '01). Reichl, Levine, Cheshes, and Sutton have all been singing its praises for the burger, the offal, and everything in between, always throwing a heavy dose of love for the "neighborhood feel." The risk here for a deuce bet: service hiccups, noise level, the awkward entrance, and any kind of kitchen misfires could be leading factors in a nice one spot. We'll take our chances: Frank the Tank will give a strong one for BarBao, a middling two for West Branch. You know the odds; place your bets.
· BarBao and West Branch [NYT; after 8:00 PM]
?? denotes the Eater bet.

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