Leslie Brenner “Gestalt” Alert!

Awhile back in the magazine, I drew attention to DMN critic Leslie Brenner’s favorite crutch word: “gestalt.” (Her predecessor was fond of the word “swarthy.”) Clearly I have too much time on my hands. I should take up yarn bombing or something. Anyway, I couldn’t help but notice the latest “gestalt” from Brenner, this time in a review of the Commissary. To wit:

Many of the burgers come in two sizes, 6-ounce or 8-ounce, and they arrive cut in half. I like that the 6-ounce burgers get smaller buns — proper bun-to patty-ratio is so essential to overall burger gestalt — but sliced in half, those smaller burgers fall apart when you pick them up, ruining the effect.

I also couldn’t help but notice that when I ate at Commissary last week, my burger didn’t come sliced in half.



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  • Scott–DFW

    Sliced in half, the kitchen has a better chance of ensuring the burger is cooked to temperature. For customers who care about such things, it’s a small price to pay. For those who don’t care about that (or ingredient quality), there are plenty of DMN-rated “three star” burger joints waiting for them.

  • MysticMaze

    Tim, you are asleep at the wheel. Brenner used gestalt five times in a single essay last month.


  • wow

    I was more concerned over my deviled eggs that were $14 for 1 and a half eggs. (yes, 1 egg and half of another) wow. and the 8oz farmer’s burger with a duck egg and bacon…with fries was $11.00. I couldn’t concentrate on my burger.

  • I think I just passed out

    $14 for deviled eggs??!!

  • Underglass

    Here, Here, Scott.

    also – I think there are 4 or 6 deviled eggs per order, and they are topped with Caviar for $14.

    The Farmer is one of the most delicious burgers you will ever eat – and at $11 includes fries. Compare Nosh’s at $14 and Redfork’s at $13.

    Move along – there is nothing to see here but quality food.

  • Ricky

    Tim, what is Nancy’s word?

  • 4xTex

    @underglass…did you see the Observers review as well as DMN. Two less than stellar reviews in the same week. But at least he’s twice as good as he was in New York, from 1 to 2 star.

  • Scott–DFW

    I was puzzled by the thinness of the Observer review. The review described two visits to the restaurant–one for the tasting menu in the chef’s room, one in the main dining room at lunch.

    In the lunch visit, the reviewer “shared” a single burger (taken without a bun), a single appetizer (deviled eggs), a single salad, a single side dish, and a cookie. There are 13 burgers on the menu. About as many appetizers. Half a dozen salads. Four side options. Four desserts (though, in fairness, they did unsuccessfully try to order one of them). That seems to be a very narrow sampling of the menu.

    And that’s just what’s available at lunch. The “large plates” section of the menu is only available at dinner; none of those dishes are described in the review. Most of the blackboard specials (of which there are usually a half dozen or more, including some of the restaurant’s most interesting offerings) are available only at dinner. Again, none of them are described in the review (apart from the side of avocado tempura).

    The writer apparently had a better experience with the tasting menu, but pleads “budget” as the reason for not having wine pairings (ordinary or premium) at a 12-seat table served by a well-respected sommelier. Though The Commissary’s tagline is “Burgers – Wine – Bistro,” the review doesn’t describe a single glass of wine taken.

    I don’t doubt that the Observer reviewer experienced the service hiccups she described or that she left the restaurant unimpressed. But, budget notwithstanding, I’m stunned at the willingness to run a review with a menu sampling of such scantness as would make a second-tier Yelper blush.

    Can’t speak to Brenner’s review. Paywall.

  • @Scott – well said.

    And what kind of food critic orders a bunless burger at burger joint? Did she get the salad with dressing on the side, too?

  • Underglass

    I checked – 3 Caviar deviled eggs, 3 per order – but tasty.

    As far as stars go – there is absolutely no correlation between DMN and NYT stars – The Brad has a good point here:

  • Scott–DFW

    I don’t mind that the Observer reviewer ordered a bunless burger. It’s an interesting option that might appeal to some readers. But non-carb-counting readers would also be interested in the quality of the other buns and breads (e.g., sesame seed, brioche, English muffin, ciabatta, etc.).

    I also think readers would’ve been better served had the reviewer skipped The Table (which hasn’t even been open for a month, yet) and made two or three more visits to the main dining room, exploring some of the dinner-only items, blackboard specials, or even some of the more unique burgers.

    The restaurant isn’t above reproach. But learning the good and the bad of any restaurant requires more time and effort (and perhaps money) than appears to have been expended in generating that review.

  • BorntoRhone

    I haven’t read a Leslie Brenner review since they erected the paywall – not worth it when there are so many good food blogs and Yelp that can enlighten me on Dallas food !

  • @MysticMaze: Holy cow. That’s impressive. My apologies for missing that.

    @Ricky: I edit Nancy. Therefore, she uses no crutches in print. Her VERBAL crutches at the office are the phrases “I will cut you” and “I picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue.”

  • Catty

    Nancy – using Tim as a proxy to attack Leslie is a tired, passive-aggressive approach.

  • Borborygmus
  • Wow

    3 halfs on the eggs. 1 egg cut in half and a half of another egg!!! I took a photo.

  • Catty, I have zero control over Tim.

  • MysticMaze

    Tim, last month by using the word “gestalt” 5 times in one single review, Brenner is purely & simply making fun of you. In case you didn’t understand. You made fun of her for using the word 10 times in… 10 years!

  • Wow is right about the egg thing. I had the same.

  • Wm. B. Travis

    Glad I’m behind both the Firewall and the Alamo’s wall, because I’d rather die behind these walls than continue to watch Brenner flail away at something approaching sophistication.

    “To hell with him. Buzzards got to eat; same as worms.”

    — Josey Wales.