New York Times' Bruni Takes Questions

 

Posted by R.K. Gella

Dismantling the allegations earlier this month that his tenure as the NY Times food critic had fallen under equivocal terms, Frank Bruni opened his laptop to his readers this week, answering their submitted questions categorized into headings like “Who Eats This Stuff?”, “Reservations About Reservations”, and “How Anonymous Are You?”. 

On how the critic chooses restaurants for review:

These places have become objects of widespread curiosity. A substantial number of readers want to know what they’re like, how they are. And one of a newspaper’s central missions is to provide information (along with perspective) about matters of public interest, be those matters governmental or gastronomic… 

The big-time publicists aren’t necessarily landing them the reviews; the natures of the enterprises — which happen to include the budget for, and hiring of, said publicists — are landing them the reviews.

On how the shape of the economy will affect New York’s restaurant industry:

I’d be shocked if a place like Per Se or Jean Georges closed. New York’s a big, big city with enormous wealth, and there are many people who, while hurt by the economic downturn, still have more than enough money to splurge on fancy restaurants.

There’s also no doubt in my mind that the economic downturn is going to thin the restaurant herd…I think we’re going to hear, each month, about one or two restaurant closings that will be surprising, and upsetting, and that wouldn’t have happened in the normal course of things.

On foods the critic will not eat:

I’m no Tony Bourdain. Not even close. (And I say that with enormous respect.) 

I wouldn’t eat most reptiles. I think it’s above and beyond my particular call. I simply won’t eat any insects. Sorry. I’ve no sophisticated intellectual or ethical or any other -al justification for this. It just grosses me out — I can’t get around the idea of it — and, lucky for me, it doesn’t come up that often in Manhattan restaurants.