Here’s a special bonus installment of Frank Bruni’s most memorable meals as the country’s best-known restaurant critic at the New York Times, plus what he thinks about the place where he had his worst meal (which is still open). And for anyone who wants to hear more excellent Bruni stories, his newest book, Born Round, is just out in paperback.

  • On Memorable Meal #1:
  • Interestingly, my most memorable meals are a lot of the early ones. I remember eating at Masa in the first weeks of being a critic. Masa only opens for lunch if they have a reservation, and that afternoon, the only reservation they had was the one I made with Eric Asimov. Masa himself was making our sushi and handing it right to us. It was sad not to see the restaurant on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. If I made a million dollars a year, I’d be eating at Masa once a month.
  • On Memorable Meal Number #2:
  • One of the meals I remember best is right after I stopped being a critic and went to Le Bernardin [with me!] for an F&W story. Not only was there a wine-pairing challenge going on, but we had a personalized tasting menu from Eric Ripert, and a personalized tasting menu from Eric Ripert is a pretty splendiferous thing.

On any last words about Ninja (a restaurant to which he gave a spectacularly bad review in 2006):
I occasionally walk by Ninja at dinner time, 6:30. And I see people eagerly striding in. It’s one of the great mysteries of the world for me. I want to ask them, ‘Why?’ But I keep walking.