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May 01, 2008

Yelping with Frank Bruni!

Posted by Sam Perwin

Bruni2 Frank Bruni's Last Supper, you ask?  Hardly.  But Mr. Bruni, chief food critic for the New York Times, was kind enough to share some of his favorite firsts and lasts with us folks here at Yelp NYC.  Herewith, the complete interview, a.k.a. Frank Bruni on the light in Tribeca, tax-deductible chairs, and why not even working for the Times can get you in with David Chang.

If today were your last day in New York (and you could never return) what three local spots or businesses would you visit? (i.e. Central Park, MoMA, Brooklyn Bridge etc.)

Yikes. That's tough. I love Central Park. I really do. So I'd take a walk across the 72nd Street transverse, if I'm even naming that correctly, and turn north toward that wonderful viewing point over that big lake. I might haul myself up to the Cloisters. I love that too. And a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I guess this would have to be a summer day. Not enough light in January to get all of this done.

And what would you want for your last meal?

I answered this once before, and can only hope I'm being consistent here. A really great porterhouse steak would be in serious contention. With a really great gin martini. I wouldn't mind some sort of knock-out pasta or risotto dish to start.

Does Frank Bruni ever have to wait in line? If so where was the last place you stood in a ridiculous line?

Of course: all the time. Are you kidding? I wait in line at restaurants when the table isn't ready, at restaurants that don't take reservations. A long, long, long wait? That would have to be the Social Security Office. I needed a replacement card. After 40 minutes, I realized I wasn't even getting close to my time at the window, because of the ticket number I had. I joked to a woman with a much lower, better ticket number that I'd give her $20 for hers. She took me seriously. I bought her ticket. This was a few months ago. I think she's still over there, waiting.

And in a similar vein, where was the last place you couldn't get a reservation?

Many places. I've been dependent on the strenuous computer efforts of friends to get into Momofuku Ko. I wanted to go to Elettaria the other night; the restaurant had nothing after 6:15, and I couldn't eat that early that night. I don't use my name for reservations or announce myself on the phone. I go through the same reservation process anyone does.

When and where was the last time you were out partying until 4am?

I am so not going to answer this one. Let's just say, for the record, I am always in bed by midnight, reading M.F.K. Fisher or Michael Pollan.

Which New York neighborhood leaves a lasting impression on you and why?

So many do. There's something about the width and angle of streets and the quality of light in TriBeCa that I love. There's a particular beauty to Brooklyn Heights that's so elegant and romantic: I feel like I can see Cher kicking that can down the street in that early-morning scene from "Moonstruck." I like the East Village's scruffy glee. The list goes on.

Last great book you read and where did you buy it - or enjoy it?

I am just finishing my friend Sarah Lyall's book "The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British." It's being published in a few months, so I didn't buy it ---- her editor was sweet enough to have a small party for her when she was in town recently (she lives in London) and to hand out galleys to her friends. It's very funny. The chapter on the way Brits talk about sex is classic.

Last time you bought something really outrageous (expensive or just plain weird) and where'd you find it?

I'm drawing a total blank, but there must be something. Huh. I fairly recently spent a sum I won't admit to on this green mesh ergonomic chair that's supposed to --- I don't know --- realign my spine or achieve world peace or something. But since it's stationed at my home computer and I work more at home than at the office, it's tax-deductible! Legitimately!

Last thing you would ever eat? (ie: hot dog from a street vendor, etc?)

Insects. They factor into some cuisines. I do not think they will factor into any of my meals.

Last meal you ate outside of New York where you said "I wish we had that"?

Three meals in recent months: O Ya in Boston; Ubuntu in Napa, Calif.; Cochon in New Orleans.

Last time you dreamed about food - or do you? - and what was it?
I almost never remember my dreams. I'm deprived that way.

Last experience that made you think: "God, I love New York"?

It was warm enough to take a run around the Central Park Reservoir the other day. During that run you get a 360-degree view of the city from the very center of it, over water and trees. I loved New York during every minute of that run. But then I love New York just walking to my local bakery, because you get to see and smile at and wonder at people in a way residents of car-centric cities don't.

For more Frank Bruni goodness check out his DinersJournal Blog.


Nina C

Hey Sam!

Did you know that Grub Street (NY Mag's food blog) linked to this post this morning? Very cool!

Loved the interview, love Frank Bruni even more now...

By the way, Mr. Bruni, if you read this... Elettaria is not all that, but the sweetbreads were fabulous! Hope you finally got your reservation, although our maitre'd told us that you were seated at the bar when I was there.


Are you kidding me? Bruni might be the worst food critic alive - maybe the worst in history. Definitely the worst in NYC history. Please spare us his drivel - I work hard enough not to read his sniveling load of excrement on the NY Times, I don't need it stinking up yelp.com. Come on yelp! I thought you were respectable!


I find that isolationalistic veiw this site has taken to be very insulting and very problematic for the american peaple,,who by there nature of being led like lemmings off a cliff never question once""WHY IS IT THERE ONLY AMERICAN CITIES AND ZIPE CODES ACCEPTED ON THIS SITE??"",

This is diturbing as the world already veiws the american public as mis-informed on a great many things,,and here we have another example of the enabling attitude of web developers and corporations at there best,,the attitude "KEEP THE SHEEP QUITE,,,THE MIGHT WAKE UP ONE DAY AND WANT REAL INFORMATION!".


@Ch: I think Yelp's stance is that they don't want to spread themselves too thin at this point, NOT that they're USA-centric in an isolationist sense.

Amusing interview, I'll have to check out some of Bruni's stuff now...

Jay Dee

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