Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Is That Creamed Spinach or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Jeffery Chodorow's crusade against New York Times' food critic Frank Bruni just gets better. This week Chodorow offered Caribbean vacations to employees who spot Bruni in his restaurants. You have to wonder what kind of veiled threat this really is. I mean, what happens after Bruni is spotted? Does Chodorow order the chefs to defile the critic's soup?

Bruni, meanwhile, came back with a pitch-perfect reponse to Chodorow's screed, one worthy of his background in Italian politics: he gave a star and rave review to Robert's Steakhouse at the Penthouse Executive Club. Yes, our fearless food critic braved a sea of lapdancers to sample the beef, and wrote about the night with a surprising sense of humor even though, Mr. Chodorow will no doubt note, he's not a comedian. I believe the steaks were good. But honestly, what's the point of this review? How many Times' readers are really going to go to the Penthouse Club for the steaks?

"If Chodorow lives up to his insane public rant, he now has to follow in Bruni's footsteps and sit down in a potentially spooge-soaked banquette for his own counter-review of this distinguished eatery," Anthony Bourdain observes. "The message seems to be 'even a freakin' strip club where you get lap dances offered between courses is better than your soulless, overpriced meat-emporium.'" In other words, if this was a poker game, Bruni, no pun intended, just raised the stakes.

"One might ask if it's ever a good idea," Bourdain adds, offering Chodorow a little good advice, "to spend $40,000 to remind the public that the New York Times think you suck and that you are the genius responsible for MIX, the lunatic-sounding CAVIAR AND BANANA, the public melt-down called ROCCO'S, the joke-magnet ENGLISH IS ITALIAN and the rumored SPOTTED DICK."

Your bet, Mr. Chodorow.--F

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