Tina Nguyen: Trump Grill Could Be The Worst Restaurant In America

As my companions and I contemplated the most painless way to eat our flaccid, gray Szechuan dumplings with their flaccid, gray innards, as a campy version of “Jingle Bells” jackhammered in the background, a giant gold box tied with red ribbon toppled onto us. Trump, it seemed, was already fighting against the War on Christmas.

Donald Trump is “a poor person’s idea of a rich person,” Fran Lebowitz recently observed at The Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit. “They see him. They think, ‘If I were rich, I’d have a fabulous tie like that.’” Nowhere, perhaps, does this reflection appear more accurate than at Trump Grill (which is occasionally spelled Grille on various pieces of signage). On one level, the Grill (or Grille), suggests the heights of plutocratic splendor—a steakhouse built into the basement of one’s own skyscraper.

Tina Nguyen, in Vanity Fair — Trump Grill Could Be The Worst Restaurant In America

Image by SpeechRep Tina Nguyen: Trump Grill Could Be The Worst Restaurant In America

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56 thoughts on “Tina Nguyen: Trump Grill Could Be The Worst Restaurant In America

      • @leeesq

        I got it from Jacob Weissenberg writing way back during August 2015.

        Normally I am against Jaybird’s dada points on snooty Democrats and liberals but the sneer against Trump being a poor person’s idea of a rich person strikes as the kind of snarky observation that might be true and might feel cathartic to say but can ultimately backfire.

        But I wonder how much we are really in trench warfare and a lot of people on the left simply think we are not convincing anyone so all the snarky is coming out.

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        • The problem with american journalism is that editors have really dropped the ball. Meaning that if I’m a left of centre editor, and one of my writers says something utterly snooty, I should know that this will totally hurt my team (and it is rude and offensive). Even if it makes for great click bait and hate reading I should try to censor this stuff. Sometimes self censorship is constructive. We don’t have to shout out to the world every suggestion of our id. Similarly, if your a right wing editor and know that racist statements by Derbyshire will hurt the cause then don’t print them.

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          • Even if it makes for great click bait and hate reading I should try to censor this stuff.

            Follow the money. Back when print subscriptions ruled, revenue came from (I think) three sources: subscriptions, classified ads, and advertising. Now they’re down to one – advertising – in a radically different context (ie., clicking) with a radically different purpose (click-thrus).

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            • Obviously the incentives are all wrong. But if we can criticise financiers for screwing the pooch even though all the incentives point towards the kind of short term thinking, we can similarly criticise editors for misusing their editorial control in the service of self interest.

              While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with self interest, it cannot be that people are never criticisable when they act wrongly out of self interest.

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          • @stillwater

            I wonder if the snarkiness is a sign of giving up hope at ever having a large electoral victory or Congressional majority. It seems to me that a lot of people think that the lines in the sand are drawn and no one is moving from their respective sides and things are in permanent 50/50 deadlocks more or less.

            Does this despair create an incentive to be snarky at least as a balm?

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  1. I don’t quite disagree with the observation that Trump is a poor person’s idea of a rich person, but I will add that quip turns on constructing a wealthy person’s idea of a poor person.

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      • Before his political campaign appeared to be anything other than an exercise in vanity I had once said to a friend that Donald Trump made part of his public identity “conspicuously conspicuous consumption.” Where conspicuous consumption has as its object the display of one’s wealth so as to inspire envy, to engage in this activity conspicuously meant that Trump did so for the purpose of letting you know that he was quite aware that you were aware his intention was to inspire your envy.

        In our narcissistic, publicly-lived, and shallow age, people may well have confused envy with admiration. (N.b., this may not be a new phenomenon at all.)

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        • But whose envy? The whole Trump aesthetic in consumption is a 180 against about 99.9 percent of taste done by the reasonably monied upper-middle class and possibly the upper-class as well.

          He is not buying modern or contemporary art, he is not serving farm to table food that is both simple seeming and elegant at the same time, does anyone else buy the kind of 19th century gilded furniture that seems to dominate as Trump’s interior decoration?

          The reason for the sneering quip is because his tastes are so far off from what other people with money seem to be doing.

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          • Yes, other people do buy the furniture. *eyeroll*

            You don’t know much about how the elite live, do you? He’s not having uncurried fries, that cost about $4,000 a plate. (And you thought “spirit cooking” was weird.)

            Rich people don’t have faux rich kitchens either. They have industrial-like kitchens that they don’t enter. The Help does.

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          • Back when I did tech work in South Florida, I had a few rather posh clients in Palm Beach, and yeah, that kind of “gold plated everything” aesthetic did exist among (certain members) of the Palm Beach set. Now, I’m not “of that world.” I have no idea the subtle boundaries between “new money” and “old” — whatever those terms mean these days anyhow. But Trump’s aesthetic, it doesn’t seem so off to me.

            That said, it is shockingly ugly. I don’t know what else to say about that, other than, it is a matter of taste, but taste matters.

            #####

            Honestly, I have zero doubt that Trump has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, that he is a deeply broken person, a flim-flam man, fragile as fuck, and hideously dangerous. He reflects the worst in America, and the fact he won a nation election reveals something very ugly about us.

            Bluntly, our nation does not deserve to survive Trump. It is a pity, however, that a nation is made of people, and that people suffer as a nation does. Perhaps in some transhumanist future this will no longer be true. Until then, dream of cyborgs.

            Anyway, I think you see can see Trump’s character reflected in his aesthetic, but not in a totalizing way. Taste is complicated, its contours subtle. The point is, his crass display is just one aspect of the whole rancid package of fail.

            I’m pretty sure I’ll never eat at the Trump Grill[e].

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            • v,
              I’m sorry, has he said he supports parents paying thousands of dollars to murder their children?
              Does he actively participate in pedophilia, and subsequently blackmail people about it?

              Or would you really like to know who I’m talking about?

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            • For a couple of years we lived next door but one to a building that used to be a smallish synagogue, and was gradually undergoing remodelling into… something. Our friends had to lived in the same apartment for the two years before us, and this ever-so gradual renovation had been going on through their tenure there too.

              Our first guess was that it was being split up into suites – it was about the same size as the apartment building we lived in, with ten suites, but this was getting a bit of a posher look, so we figured maybe half a dozen larger apartments.

              But as it began to come together, we could see there was a bunch of open mezzanine floor, stuff that would bridge upstairs and downstairs – couldn’t have been apartments, if you sneezed your upstairs neighbour could pass you a tissue. So we figured a single mansion.

              Around this time, various vehicles showed up – a speedboat on a trailer in the basement, a Hummer on the front terrace, a motorbike in the lobby, a horse trailer snuck in beside the fence.

              Then there were intensely saturated purple and green lights everywhere inside, and a big black awning and pillars out front went up, and a big industrial-scale kitchen was put in. So we figured ‘great, a nightclub. Hopefully we move out before they get around to opening’

              And one night, we were walking by and for the first time saw someone in the vast institutional kitchen – an elderly lady in a housecoat making a pot of tea before bed.

              Our conclusion by the time we moved away was that this was a home for one dude, whose aesthetic frame of reference was nightclubs – so he was basically modelling his home after a nightclub.

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  2. I understand that Trump: The Boardgame, was a terrible boardgame. The dynamics of playing it were not particularly fun. It was dull. The board pieces themselves were cheap. It was a crappy, crappy boardgame.

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        • Dude, I haven’t eaten at Trump Grill(e), I just read the review and now that I have, I feel no desire to eat there at all ever. Jaybird hasn’t played the Trump boardgame (despite being a boardgame connoisseur), he’s responding to what he’s been told about it.

          I once bought a taster bottle of Trump Vodka and I do have to give Trump credit for this bit of personal consumer education: vodka is supposed to be tasteless and odorless. Trump Vodka was indeed tasteless and odorless and in that sense indistinguishable from any other better-than-bottom-shelf competing product. The only distinguishing features of this product were the “T” logo on the front of the bottle and the elevated price.

          You may read as much metaphorical meaning into this epiphany as you like.

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    • Jay,
      It actually wasn’t that bad. I had several worse games (mostly of the Monopoly persuasion).
      It’s true that I had far, far better boardgames, but that one actually got played a couple of times.
      (My parents bought me more boardgames than I had friends.)

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      • Guy Fieri does!

        (I’m glad Tourondel does not. I am wondering how being a no scare quote legitimate businessman is going to work out for him at the Old Post Office. Will the people seeking to ingratiate themselves plus those that don’t care outnumber the people boycotting the entire building on general principle? Will something (court order?) force the Trump org to divest and change the name on the front entrance?)

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    • Well, the review notes that dessert was unremarkable and used out of season (read: hothouse grown) ingredients, and the octopus was a little bit tough. And a $61 piece of fish had better be as good as the review makes it sound.

      I nitpick, because I don’t like Trump and so ought to not like anything with his name on it. But yeah, that was a pretty glowing review of what sounds like a kick ass steakhouse.

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      • I just read the review. I used to roll my eyes at liberals who got angry at the copy in the NY Times style section but there is something about how that article nudged and winked at corruption that really ticked me off. I get that a restaurant review doesn’t have to be the political section but there is a certain disconnect.

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  3. Tina’s column smacks of trying to hard. Yes, lets compare the crappy food at a name brand resturant to his personal life, and his election, ’cause we feezls bad. We all know you’re going to do a political hit job under the template of a food review…you could at least make the review clever.

    This guy knows how to do it right.

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