by Bourdain

Coincidence or conspiracy? Hot on the heels of Jeffrey Chodorow’s ill-considered public squeal, Frank Bruni reviews ANOTHER steak house, giving one star and a stunningly warm and fuzzy review to ROBERT’S in the PENTHOUSE EXECUTIVE CLUB.( Not the usual Times subject, one would think–and a place that’s been open only a few blocks away for some time without attracting previous attention from the paper of record). This after a brutal, zero star  butt-slamming of Chodorow’s KOBE CLUB. Maybe I’m being cynical here but 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. I’d rather spend time in a hot tub with Bob Guiccione than you!" Subtext? "Don’t Fuck With Me!"

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.

Game, Set, Match as far as I’m concerned.

One might ask if it’s ever a good idea anyway to spend 40,000 bucks reminding 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.


48 Wonderful responses to “BRUNI/CHODOROW: REDUX”

  • SC

    Sorry for the obvious joke, but Spotted Dick may indeed take on a new meaning/life of its own if Chodorow takes the plunge (pun intended) and does his own review of Robert’s…

  • Claudia

    Heheheheh! Guess this means you will NOT be spotted eating the shared lobster dish or chugging down the pseudo-Latino fruity drinks at Asia de Cuba any time soon, Tony! But, hey, now -Spotted Dick? C’MON!! Sounds like you gotta give that one a shot, if nothing else for the huevos the size of avocados (or galactic stunads) of Chodorow to name it thus!

  • Rob I.

    Anthony, get your own blog for Christ’s sake and stop ruining Mr. Ruhlman’s good name! Unless you don’t want to stoop to the level of Publicity Whore #1 Jeffrey Chodorow, that is.

  • clarkehead

    Sorry, but that looks like a highway to indigestion. Who the Hell wants to watch scantly clan women dancing around while you’re eating an over-priced piece of beef? $53 for a bone-in strip steak? At that price, it had better come with a complimentary lap dance.

    Hate to sound prudish here, but I firmly believe in the separation of church and steak . . . er, state. Robert’s Steak House had it coming.

  • sorcha

    Food in strip clubs tends to be good, if the ones here in Portland are anything to go by, but damn, you can get it a lot cheaper elsewhere. Just don’t get the table dance *while* you’re eating.

  • Laurie

    Don’t listen to Rob I. I’m far too lazy to read two blogs when I can read one without hitting more keys.

  • Trina

    I will never forget watching the “reality” tv show (I forget what it was called) when Rocco was opening that restaurant and you came in to eat. He was FLIPPING out. The look of utter disgust on your face was all I needed to know about the place. I stopped watching after that episode.

  • cafelady

    I ate Spotted Dick in London and it’s quite tasty if made right, but why would someone want to name a gourmet restaurant after a bowl of pudding?

  • ruhlman

    even i, an admitted naif in the oh-so-hardscrabble world of new york restauranting, can only see bruni’s review as a personal, or at least visceral, response to the chodorow letter. and a hopeful sign that the times is ready to have some fun. i was happily surprised this morning. good for bruni and the times. and pete wells. balls.

  • sorcha

    Not only does it come across as intensely personal, it’s a pretty crude attempt to boot. I mean really, he may as well have written “Nyah nyah nyah” over and over again.

  • Grubbjunkie

    Robert’s reminds me of the Acroplis in Portland OR. But there are some important differences: The dancers take it all off, the steaks are wrapped in bacon, and even the filet is less than $15.

  • Sommelier

    Looks as if Jeffrey Chodorow is the latest in a long line of people who failed to heed Ben Franklin’s advice: “Never argue with a man who buys his ink by the barrel.”

    Seriously, though… the New York Times set the standard for restaurant reporting when Craig Claiborne was their restaurant reviewer. He had a degree in journalism (and he could actually write) and had graduated from Hotel School in Switzerland. By the time that Ruth Reichle had taken over the spot, the level of writing was diminished to reporting on what the ladies at the next table were wearing, stories about her girlhood and the ranting of personal grudges over being given a “bad table” because wasn’t recognized when came in looking like a bag lady. She went months without mentioning service and, if she ever wrote a word about a wine list, it must have been that one issue I missed.

    As with so many things in life, someone like Claiborne does it so well that it looks effortless: people with no talent fail to recognize the time and effort that goes into it and think: “I can do that.” They can’t.

  • Skawt


    If you wash those spots with some good old lye soap they should come right off–along with most of your skin.

  • anne

    I suspected there was something tripped out about the Bruni review. Of all the places to choose to review, give such a “warm and fuzzy” review, then one star,….. Thanks for the incisive subtext- AHA!
    I don’t think this cockfight belongs in the Wednesday section though- keep it in the Diner’s Blog and save the print space for reviews without hidden agendas. or am I naive to think that is even possible?

  • shauna

    I thought the fact that Bruni didn’t mention anything about the kerfuffle on Diner’s Journal was a class act. After all, the best thing to do with someone red-faced and pounding his chest is to walk away. However, I laughed out loud when I saw the food section this morning. And on the front page? It’s a clear thumb snub, and I love it.

  • Joey

    Money Can’t Buy You Love…

    Jeffrey, Absolutely…Astonishing…Over The Top – you playing the victim role – poor Jeffrey you got a bad review so sad. Well bro it didn’t just start after Rocco’s they were coming way before; should we do a history lesson on your historical reviews. It is interesting that you only included critics that wrote good stuff in your Times piece. What about the Post and NY Magazine reviews, do you think New Yorkers are stupid and only read the Times? You really exposed your self-centered, self-serving agenda with this Times piece…New Flash!!! IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU!!!! BTW – there is one fundamental flaw throughout the theme of your Times pieces; that is you give so much power away to a source outside yourself, that being a food citric – Why? Your ability to be successful depends on what you and your team do, not what a food critics says. If every guest is happy you have no worries, with effective operational management this is achieved. Something however, your operations are not effective in producing.

    You have really screwed so many very good people over; so many over the years; really hard working and talented folks, in fact folks that were tremendously loyally to you and the cause…However, in true Chodorow form you took advantage, played them out horribly, you broke promises and openly lied to good people – you are a liar and a cheat – why else did you go to prison let’s see – was if for lying and cheating – what do you think?? Maybe all this is your Karma coming back around; hitting your where it hurts, putting you in your place, so sad you have a bruised ego, maybe you are not the restaurant God or the Living Legend that you imagine yourself to be. Well now after this display of egotism in the Times; I believe you will never really be the famously celebrated restaurateur you are begging to be. With this latest flashy irresponsible use of your cash, the public is laughing. Jeffrey, your Money Can’t Buy You Love. However, executing great restaurants can…Time to refocus and take more intelligent action…

    It is interesting how you seem to blame so many others for your failures. Let’s do some quick math – Rocco’s, Tuscan Steak, Mix, Caviar and Bananas, Rocco’s Tuscan is that 5 big projects that failed big time, who is responsible? It may be a good idea for you to humble yourself and give thanks for your deals with Schrager and Mandalay Bay… thank God for them putting up the capital for these projects…Oh yeah did you ever tell anyone that rumjungle was an complete accident that is was designed to be a Brazilian Steak House, and that the Vegas crowd turned it into a night club, not your brilliance or vision?

    How do you screw-up a great space twice in a row, the West 22nd St. space in one of the best spaces in town, and is in possibly one of the best restaurant neighborhoods in the world? You as the business leader bring in 2 outstanding, world-class Chefs, Rocco (Rocco’s) and Claude (Caviar and Banana’s) and both concepts are Losers! How does a seasoned restaurateur with massive resources screw-up a great location twice with 2 great chefs? You should write a book; “How to lose 5 million dollars in the restaurant business, with great Chefs”, you are the master! To top it off you had nation television to support Rocco’s how you don’t make that work is truly mind boggling – What a -Up! Who’s responsible for the debacle you or them? In my book it is always the business leader that is responsibility not those that report to him.

    In you letter you blame the critics for the failure at Caviar and Banana’s. What a joke, I have been in the business for north of 15 years, and I have never seen a citric put a restaurant out of business. Even under a bad review New Yorker’s know good food, value, service and most of all hospitality; if an operators delivers on the aforementioned, your business will be a home run in NYC regardless of ink in the Times or any other publication. However; delivering is not your strong suit – crying like a baby and blaming others is your cup of tea.

    You’ve got money that’s for sure…you need it because, certainly no other restaurateur has screwed up some many great locations as you…you may be the leader, the master in the -up category.

    Knowing you, as I read your letter in the Times, it made me think; is he doing blow or ludes I just couldn’t tell. Jeffrey, it may be time for you to see your Rabbi and discuss your behavior on many levels and get straightened out. You are human like us all maybe you need a little help now – please get it…

    Your concept of challenging the food critics is defiantly boring and stupid – how many 3 stars joints do you operate, what makes you an authority; your failed restaurants or your theme park restaurants? Maybe it would be a wiser use of your time if you focused on creating your current portfolio of business to reach there full potential; and why not create some new winners instead of increasing the trial of losers that you have so masterfully executed!! Stop trying to be somebody important in our lives!!! We have enough dysfunctional Wanabees everyday in the papers, we don’t need another one!!!

    BTW – I am not an architectural or professional designer however, hanging 2000 weapons from the ceiling pointing at people’s heads is just frankly a really stupid idea.

    And if Kobe Club is jamming what the hell do you care about the critic’s point of view. In the hospitality business it’s all about repeat business “guest retention”. By you focusing on the guest experience at Kobe right now; maybe a better idea then spending all that money and coming off like an idiot in the Times.

    Regarding your staff, this is truly a joke; do you really think that anyone believes that your comments about your staff in the Times are authentic or in-fact really comforted them in any significant manner? I know people and it would have been much more effective and genuine if you would have taken the cash you used for the Times full pager, and spilt it equally between them and produced a killer party for them, thanking them for their efforts, now were talk-in building a team and creating loyalty by showing gratitude where it counts. However, not you, you in classic Chodorow style used the money for your self-promotion and your self-importance, giving your crew more bullshit lip service.

    Closing thoughts…I truly hope you get help and become a whole person…and begin to use your money wisely and helpfully…and maybe even create a couple of Winners…and possibly ask for forgiveness for all the people that you screwed over the years – you may not have to face prison for these offensives; however, you can’t hide from the Karma Cop’s…

    Jeffrey, its takes a great team to create a great organization and you certainly haven’t had a great team in years – I wonder why?

  • sorcha

    Grubbjunkie, the proper name isn’t the Acropolis, it’s the Southeast Portland Center for the Performing Arts! Didn’t your mama teach you nothin’? 😉

  • RI Swampyankee

    I didn’t quite know what to make of Chodorow’s 40K whine. What was he thinking? I give the paper that panned my place a ton of money so that I can show the world that..what?

    I’m genuinely curious: Has any other restauranteur answered a bad review in The Times in such a public, pathetic and costly a manner?

  • Mr. K

    On a topic of steakhouses, Bruni also gave Tom Colicchio’s Craft Steak only 1 star and a lukewarm review. Tom took it like a man. Jeffrey took it like a girl.

  • sorcha

    Mr. K, I resent that remark. Jeffrey took it like a whiny little bitch, which is not the same thing as a girl at all. 😉

  • Mr. K

    I assure you there is not a single male chauvinist pigs bone in my body ! 😉

  • Non Dire Gol

    Worth remembering that good restaurants still fail despite great reviews. It depends on what you are trying to sell to the barbarian plebes.

    Rocco tanked because the whole idea was stupid from the get go. You could get equally bad food in “incredible shrinking Little Italy” for a lot less money.

  • lewlou

    Bruni gave The Spotted Pig just one star and they took it like men/women too. Doesnt seem to have hurt their business a bit either. JC is a baby.

  • Kevin

    I personally hope they BOTH return to their respective business and quit spoiling the atmosphere. It’s not appetizing for us. What’s next? Does one of them hire the hepatitis A infected server from Los Angeles to don a disguise and serve to the other? Sheesh.

    **I’m not making light of the recent hepatitis health scare–just using it to make a point.

  • tess


    Why bother with NaOH when chlorine bleach is easier to get and works just as well . . . at dissolving skin.

  • Skawt


    We should come up with a way to dissolve his skin, and leave behind nothing but minty freshness. You know, like a urinal cake.

  • tess


    If you have the glassware, I’ll break out the ochem books. We can have a party!

  • Claudia


    Are you really OK since your surgery, dude? You seem to be going through a phase obsessing about Bourdain’s skin (!) 🙂 🙂

  • Skawt


    Nah, now I’m trying to come up with ways to get rid of it. He doesn’t have enough skin to wear like a jacket. Although I do admit that it’s so tough and leathery that it would last forever.

  • sorcha

    Claudia, if Skawt starts trying to force Tony to put the lotion on his skin by threatening that he’ll get the hose again, I say we do an intervention.

  • Skawt


    Oh, that’ll be easy. Just keep his smokes and his cough syrup from him from an hour and he’ll be begging for the lotion.

  • Tags

    The Times ought to get Bigfoot to review restaurants in the Business section. He could evaluate the way it’s being run and rate it by how many footprints he’d need to leave on it to get it to his own standards of efficiency. Less footprints needed would be a better score, zero is optimum.

    Tony, how many footprints would Bigfoot need to leave on Kobe club?

  • Paul

    Bigfoot is knee deep in booze and trying to score with women that are 20 years younger than him to care about the Times review. God help us all if he got that job.

  • Claudia


    Oh, that’ll be easy. Just keep his smokes and his cough syrup from him from an hour and he’ll be begging for the lotion. SKAWT”

    Skawt, I think Sorcha meant an intervention on YOU, not Tony – heheheheh!

  • Skawt


    Oh piffle! I’m hardly dangerous at all. I got high marks on my knife skills in school. I do almost no unnecessary damage.

    Er, this isn’t helping, is it?

  • sorcha

    Skawt, I think you should stop now before we get all freaked out. Well, more freaked out. *G*

  • 5%Celery

    …and if you were in La La you would have to eat there sober, imagine!

    A glass of iced tea and a shag? How ’bout a bump and grind with your $60 steak? You know what they say; if it bleeds…

    …what? If it bleeds it’s cooked perfectly! What did you think I was gonna say?