Oh, possums, just as contestants on Project Runway live with the tattoo-beat of fear throbbing from Tim Gunn's flaming-sword injunction, "Don't bore Nina [Garcia of Elle]," so, it seems, must Top Chef winners who actually manage to open a restaurant live in fear of boring New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni, whom we might as well call BruNina.
BruNina's one-star review of Harold's restaurant, Perilla, is studded with bits of critical gristle, backhand-compliment adjectives that make clear the critic's displeasure: "agreeable," "soothing," "unassuming," "undemanding," "primness," "more like the dutiful flourishes of a studiously conscientious tradesman than the inspirations of an artist letting his imagination roam" (ouch!), "retiring," "vapid," "cautious," "focus group," and "safe[...] path."
BruNina laments that "[Harold's] packed restaurant is a result of his fame on the small screen. That’s reality television for you — it scrambles cause and effect, defying the laws of celebrity physics." Further, though on two occasions at Perilla, BruNina caught sight of famous chefs Wylie Dufresne and Marco Canora, "On neither of those occasions did [he] lay eyes on Harold Dieterle....And this dichotomy — the conspicuous presence of his curious peers, the behind-the-curtain invisibility of the man himself — says a lot about Perilla’s odd genesis and how he has responded to it."
Which made us think that Frank Bruni is one of those Gays who didn't much care for the ending of The Wizard of Oz.
Persnickety BruNina also brings up Harold's "reluctance to hold court in his restaurant, as other chefs do in theirs," which prompted Miss XaXa to ask, "Doesn't it sound like BruNina just wanted Harold's autograph?"
Oh, Harold, to think that a signed napkin or 8 x 10 might have gotten you that extra star.