Proof + Pantry Wants No Review by Leslie Brenner. Owners and DMN Management in Heated Battle.

Last night Dallas Morning News dining critic Leslie Brenner showed up to review Proof + Pantry. Owners Michael Martensen and Sal Jafar II politely declined her attempt to pay the bill.

Proof + Pantry's Michael Martensen. Photo courtesy of Martensen.
Proof + Pantry’s Michael Martensen. Photo courtesy of Martensen.

Last night Dallas Morning News  dining critic Leslie Brenner showed up to review Proof + Pantry. Brenner, her husband Thierry Peremarti, Keven Ann Willey (DMN editorial page editor), and Georges Badoux (Willey’s husband, who is a chef and tour guide) spent four hours in the restaurant. Owners Michael Martensen and Sal Jafar II were on hand. Brenner was recognized immediately.

The group seemed to enjoy the experience, and when Brenner asked for the bill, Martensen and Jafar sent out a receipt for a complimentary meal which would have cost a regular diner $450. “Brenner was visibly disturbed,” Martensen says. “She called us over and demanded a bill saying it was unethical for her to accept.”

Martensen told Brenner she was welcome to dine in the restaurant any time she wanted, but not as a critic. “Sal and I decided from the beginning that we didn’t want any review tied to a rating system,” Martensen says. “It pinholes us. We want people to form their own opinions of us. We don’t want a numerical rating, especially from someone who we feel is inconsistent and not anonymous.”

According to both Martensen and Jafar, things got heated. “The rest of the table got into it,” Martensen says. “Her husband was furious saying he wrote music reviews for the Observer and he pays for his tickets. Willey told me if we comp’ed the bill, Brenner could be fired for taking a handout. They were yelling at us.”

They demanded to pay, but Martensen refused to run a credit card. Members of the party left and returned with cash. Brenner put the cash on the table alongside the receipt and took pictures with her cell phone. They left.

This morning Martensen and Jafar drove to the offices at the Dallas Morning News to return the cash. They met with Lifestyles deputy managing editor Lisa Kresl, and Keven Ann Willey. “We are business people and we are also citizens of Dallas,” Jafar says. “We feel it is our right to express an opinion about our local paper. We didn’t tell Leslie not to come in here [Proof + Pantry], we said we don’t believe in their star system, and we don’t want to be a part of it. Even the waiter refused the money as a tip. We offered to donate it to a charity in the DMN’s name.”

Then things got ugly. According to Martensen, they were told it didn’t matter what they wanted, the paper was going to review them regardless. “We volunteered to sweep this under the rug, but they insisted their readership deserves to know about our restaurant. We asked for an explanation of the review process which included anonymity. I told them that Leslie is not anonymous. Everyone in town knows the second she walks in. They all have her picture. I was told the anonymous policy may change in the future.”

Martensen and Jafar left the meeting feeling threatened. “One of the ladies said ‘we’ll see what our readers think about you refusing service to someone’ and ‘you don’t get to make that decision about whether or not we write a review.’  We walked in trying to be nice and explain our decision and left with them pretty much saying f-you to us.”

Earlier this week, another major restaurateur in town told me he refused to let Dallas Morning News photographers into his restaurant. The owner has had several meetings with DMN management and has asked not to be reviewed or photographed by the newspaper. John Tesar kicked up plenty of stinky dirt when he took Brenner and her tactics to task over her review of Knife.

“Everybody we know in the industry feels the way we do,” Jafar says. “We’re taking action. I think of us as the first frogs to jump in the pond. We’re waiting to see who else jumps.”

Comments

  • critic

    I have a rating system for restaurant critics.
    I give Leslie Brenner a negative 3 stars.

  • Borborygmus

    Four Hours? Honey, that’s not eating out, that’s going camping.

  • Elizabeth Hobrecht

    Yes! Proof + Pantry doing it right!

  • Alex Holt

    This is great. Kudos to Martensen and Co. A comped $450 tab? I think a thank you would be in line.

  • Sharon B

    I think it’s time for Ms. Brenner to head back to her beloved California…she’s long outstayed her welcome in the Big D. I, too, find her reviews inconsistent. She does not understand her audience. Period.

  • cbs

    wait, people still read the DMN?!

  • BellyUpDallas

    I would have let them pay…taken a photo and posted the photo of her and her husband and work colleagues at dinner and said “not anonymous review”…BTW I dont mind Leslie, but I do think eating out with your husband, family members, work colleagues etc etc when reviewing a restaurant is on the up & up

  • Bacon

    How do you guys know what she looks like? I’ve been unsuccessful in smoking out a pic of her.

  • standard

    There are lots of corporations, politicians, and government agencies that don’t answer questions from journalists and do not want coverage. Or, more often, they very cleverly only answer select questions, and become frustrated when journalists stray from these topics. If journalists caved to this, Enron would just be another energy company, Standard Oil would still be a monopoly, and the Ford Pinto would have killed a whole lot of people. So Brenner may review any restaurant she pleases. Her reviews are not for the restaurants, but for her readers, who dine there. (And the fact that D is playing along with the restaurants tells you who D is writing for. And it’s not for you, dear readers.)

  • Christopher Mosley

    I’m going to stand up for the critic in this case. Let the restaurants call the shots on how journalists should conduct business and see what you’re eating in a couple of years.

  • Borborygmus

    Let the journalists call the shots on how restaurants should conduct business and see what you’re eating in a couple of years.

  • Julie Forrer

    Good for you. Stand up for what is right. She is just one palate, but her words can ruin you. We have had a bad review in our small business (1 out of hundreds of very happy clients). Yelp chose only to run that negative review and would not run any of the positive ones from our clients. The review was also full of lies and we had to threaten with legal action to make this woman change her words from flat out lie to her “opinion”. But all it takes is that one negative thing to make a difference in your small business. I say good for you. I will travel for the burbs to eat your food. And the Dallas News is old and dying. They are irrelevant to today. We only get the Sunday paper to see what’s on sale for the week, that might benefit our large family!!!

  • Pedantic Wordlplay

    Let the restaurants eat the journalists who in a couple of years… wait what are we talking about?

  • Matt

    This is so great:

    “We don’t want a numerical rating, especially from someone who we feel is inconsistent and not anonymous.”

    I really dislike Leslie Brenner. Kudos, guys.

  • Matt

    It’s common for real reviewers to eat at restaurants several times, sometimes with one person, sometimes alone, sometimes with larger groups. I tend to think Brenner was with buddies in tow because she knew the DMN was footing the bill, but that’s because I very much dislike Leslie Brenner.

  • Srsly?

    So all you people saying that she doesn’t have a right to review your restaurant are basically saying there should be no freedom of the press and/or speech? Of course she has a right to review your restaurant, it’s in the constitution. You’re free to respond how you like and to ignore it how you like, but to say that she doesn’t have a right to review the restaurant is just insane.

  • Downtown Resident

    Nobody is denying her constitutional right to review their restaurant you dunce…

  • Greg Brown

    The quality restaurants you want to go to have no issue with quality food writers reviewing their services. The issue to me is not about the entire restaurant/writer dynamic in Dallas, but about one “critic” who is consistently hostile and bitter towards the Dallas dining scene in general. I greatly applaud restaurateurs taking a stand against laziness and mediocrity in food writing. I hope more will follow. And if we can hold her accountable to a higher standard, maybe then we can start working on some of these bloggers with serious personality disorders (but that is for another day).

  • Matt

    The restaurateurs stating that they don’t want Leslie Brenner to review their restaurant, when she is knowingly and willfully violating her own publication’s stated policies about how to review restaurants is hardly calling for the end to free speech. Calm down.

  • Borborygmus

    Or let the journalists do the cooking.

  • Eric Celeste

    I have so many feels about this story, I’m not quite sure where to begin. Let’s deal with what I think are a few separate issues: anonymity of reviewers, journalistic ethics, a restaurant’s rights, etc. (Cards on the table: I know and respect Keven Ann Willey, I know and respect Michael Martensen, and I don’t know the other people involved.)

    • Let’s just say that as someone who is considered a virtuoso in the field of stubborness — and I think Tim would back me up on that — I have to give a golf clap to Team P&P here. I mean, that is world-class stubborness. Bravo. If you are going to take a position like you did, you have to see it through. And, boy, did they. Didn’t charge the group, didn’t take the credit cards, returned the cash TO THE DMN THE NEXT DAY … that is spectacular #heismaning. Nice work, everyone. Sharp broadcast. Really good. Everyone on the floor as well. Really a lot of hustle. l liked it.

    • I think Mike is on solid ground when he says that the anonymity of the reviewer is a problem. Now, I think most restaurant critic anonymity rules, including D’s, are stupid. I think this is one of many old-school journalism rules that supposedly give us “objectivity,” but really just cause the critic or journalist to jump through unnecessary hoops — all in the name of a quality that for me ranks well below insight, expertise, and storytelling in what I want out of my journalists. So they recognize you, treat you nice, whatever. Just have the guts to critique them honestly. What, they’re going to give you a different menu? The jerk waiter who doesn’t know the menu is going to pretend to be nice and smart? Please. BUT, if you’re the DMN, and you’re going to say that anonymity is a crucial part of your judging formula, and if every chef knows what a critic looks like, yeah, that’s a problem.

    • THAT said, I’m kind of sick of the glee taken in bashing Leslie Brenner in this town. Don’t know her, don’t always agree with her, don’t care. Too many chefs, bartenders, armchair critics, and other journalists take joy in personal attacks on someone for things that have little to do with her opinions. I don’t always agree with Nancy, either. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to try to find a reason she happens to like one restaurant over another beyond “hey, she’s just cataloguing her experience.” Example in relation to Brenner: Tesar and other had a problem with her Knife review, because she had some complaints, and said, for example, the kitchen suffers when Tesar is not there. You know what? I’ve been to Knife four times (twice with Tesar’s book agent, so I was given special treatment.) Three times Tesar cooked for us, and it was amazing. Truly spectacular. The fourth time I went, I took two foodie friends to the restaurant, Tesar wasn’t there, and the quality of food was noticeably different. To my mind, she was right. And EVEN IF she was wrong, that’s okay, too. She’s one legitimate voice of several. Chefs and ‘tenders: spend less time bitching about Brenner, more time fixing the things that cause even big fans like me to not want to return. HA-RUMPH.

    • Because to the question of whether the paper can review these places that don’t want to be reviewed: OF CORUSE it can. You, Mr. Restaurant, want my money, often a lot of it. I’m willing to give it to you, but you are going to have to subject yourself to some admittedly imperfect evaluations of your food/service/atmosphere to get my money. I would like some objective, reasonable advice on whether or not you deserve it before I spend my money there. And I’d like more than one take, please. And I’d like that person to do this for a living, not be some jackwagon “food lover with a blog” who kisses your butt for free drinks. (That’s my job.) So I’m going to read Scott Reitz, and Leslie, and Nancy, and a few other folks I trust. And, look, I’ll be a grown up about it if you will, in that I promise to read many different opinions, see if a consensus has formed, try it out a few times, make my own decision, and then check in with friends I trust. In return, don’t pitch a hissy every time you’re criticized. That you think any one critic makes or breaks you, or that you have to rebel because you don’t like a critic, makes you look small and petty. And that includes many people I count as friends. Please stop.

    • TTTHHHAAATTT said, the DMN reaction to not being charged was ridiculous. Good grief, journalists are the WORST sometimes. Look, folks, no one cares about your internal ethics rules. Really: NO ONE. Just laugh about it, take the receipt, go back to the paper, put in your story what happened, then have the paper donate $450 to DMN charities in the name of Proof and Provisions. Just, as in all things, be open and honest with readers about what happened, what you did, why, and then ignore your commenters, because your commenters are the absolute worst.

  • Avid Reader

    You are completely right, she has every right to review any restaurant that she wants. The restaurant owners also have every right to refuse her money and/or ban her from their establishments.

  • Tim Rogers

    Thank you for your comment. Can you please point me to the part of the Constitution with the restaurant review clause in it?

    Kidding aside, the only way free speech could be impinged here is if a government agency stopped Brenner from writing a review. She can write whatever she pleases. It’s just that Martensen et al. made it impossible for her to do without being conflicted. WHICH IS GENIUS.

  • Greg Brown

    Go into the kitchen of any notable restaurant and you will find her pciture.

  • JJJ

    Are you equating a restaurant review by the Dallas Morning News with some of the biggest corporate scandals in history? I don’t think Leslie Brenner is Woodward or Bernstein.

  • Something’s missing

    I kept waiting to read what the DMN had to say about this, but it looks as if the restaurant owners are getting to tell their side and the paper’s side.

  • OxBowIncident

    In this Yelpian-social media blogo world, the star system is as obsolete as the critic that uses it.

  • haha

    martensen and jafar won this round.
    both nancy nichols and leslie brenner are losers.

  • Greg Brown

    Let me clarify to say “private bloggers” with no ties to an established media outlet.

  • chip

    i don’t think the word genius means what you think it means

  • chip

    how intereszzzZZZzzzzZZZzzzzZZZzzzzZZzzzzZZzzzzz

  • Vman

    You get to see and sample more dishes when you have four diners. Nothing out of the ordinary about that.

  • Barry Crook

    sorry folks, the restaurant is being a prick

  • Srsly?

    When the article posts things like:

    “Then things got ugly. According to Martensen, they were told it didn’t matter what they wanted, the paper was going to review them regardless.”

    it seems like a pretty clear indication that on some level, Martensen and Co. (and apparently D Magazine) think that the DMN doesn’t have every right to review any restaurant they like. I’m not saying P+P didn’t have to right to do what they did (obviously that’s not true) or that DMN’s freedoms were somehow impinged (obviously also not true), but to take a position that DMN is in the wrong to refuse a comped meal or doesn’t have the right to go forward with a review of a restaurant seems like a rather ridiculous position.

  • Nancy Nichols

    There is nothing unethical about her dining partners. I take my colleagues out on reviews. Bellyup Dallas, the key to their strategy was not letting her pay. By paying she doesn’t have to report the incident that took place.

  • Srsly?

    How exactly is she knowingly and willfully violating her publication’s stated policies?

  • Greg Brown

    BTW, don’t keep your opinions to yourself. Let the DMN editor know what you think: http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/send-a-letter/

  • Nancy Nichols

    Standard, I am reporting an incident that happened in a public place. I do not editorialize anywhere in this post. She can review all she wants. But it’s news when 3 upscale restaurateurs prefer not to be reviewed by someone they feel is inconsistent. You tell me how that is not for the readers.

  • Nancy Nichols

    They didn’t call any shots, they asked not to be reviewed. They can’t stop the review but don’t they have the right to speak their feelings?

  • Srsly?

    I agree although that’s also not really my point.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Nobody said she doesn’t have the right. She can write a freaking book for a review and disclose what happen and life goes on.

  • jimrain

    Is she really conflicted if she tried to pay and was refused? Can’t she explain those facts in her review, and let readers decide how much weight to give it?

    I think the real story is that Brenner doesn’t let readers know if she suspects she’s been recognized. Ruth Reichl’s experience at Le Cirque 20+ years ago suggests it can make a big difference in the meal. So does common sense.

    Speaking of which, does Nancy Nichols think most restaurant folks know her by sight?

  • rza

    Once again, we all need a civics lesson. Only the GOVERNMENT can violate your free speech rights, not a private person or entity.

  • Josephine

    Bravo to the owners. Everything I hear about that woman is awful. This makes me want to eat at Proof and Pantry that much more, I hear the fish is superb!

  • Chipper

    Chip – I don’t think your snarky reply made the point you think it made.

  • dontmindme

    So if they were to get 3 Michelin Stars, they’d say, ‘No, thank you.’ ???

  • Josephine

    And for someone that complained about Pecan Lodge’s WINE SERVICE in a review….she is an idiot.

  • chgafdgdjag

    Personally I think the move is genius. Word gets around about good restaurants in town without the help of Leslie Brenner just fine.. P&P is a pretty small venue and with the great food and drink they are putting out they shouldn’t have an issue keeping it full.

    They are well aware they can’t totally stop a newspaper from running a story, it might’ve been a good one that will probably turn into an ugly one… But they took the chance and earned some serious street cred in the process. I for one applaud the effort.

    Leslie Brenner has ruined careers out of spite, I’d rather take my chances this way than in the hands of an unpredictable has been.

  • Downtown Resident

    Assuming she doesn’t file a review for the comped meal then she is not violating the policies. that’s kind of the point of comping the meal, she is now either forced to not file a review, or to violate her publication’s policies for review. I didn’t think it was that hard of a concept to understand…

  • just curious

    As a restaurant critic, how would you have handled this situation if it had happened to you, Nancy?

  • Avid Reader

    Easy tiger, this happened last night/today. I’m sure DMN will release the review or it’s side of the story soon.

  • chip

    lol nobody reads d, either. they just comment on stories that show up in their facebook feed.

  • Nancy Nichols

    I don’t know the answer to that. However I will say I go unrecognized 80 percent of the time.

  • #opkill

    Pedantic Wordplay, hilarious, thanks for the laugh.

  • Nancy Nichols

    they have the right to review. no doubt. I never said that. Nor did the restaurant owners. Things got ugly when they, as Martensen describes it, “spoke in threatening tones” during the meeting this morning. Plus Martensen says the foursome was very verbal and argumentative at the dinner table.

  • #opkill

    Any time anyone uses the phrase “dear readers”, you can kind of tell they mean the exact opposite. Brenner writes for and about one person and one person only: herself.

  • TheSlowPath

    Jesus on a corny dog everyone. FINE. I will take the cash, and a free meal, and I will review the restaurant. Sheesh.

  • Mark Lynd

    Leslie Brenner’s reviews are sad and have no bearing on the normal world! Great job Martensen and Jafar! Hopefully more restaurants will stabd up to this form of censorship. We are excited about Proof + Pantry, as it sounds fabulous.

  • Matt

    They say it has to be done anonymously. She’s not anonymous. Did you read the article?

  • Matt

    Eh, it’s no more a violation of free speech than you guys selling ads to people in order to be in your “Best Of Dallas” lists.

  • DallasSingleMom

    Greg I’m curious? Which blogger or bloggers are you referring to? I’d like to know so that I can decide if I must stop reading their reviews as well.

  • DemigodH

    I think lost in this is the critical element that Leslie is no longer anonymous. P+P couldn’t do what they did if the DMN critic maintained anonymity. That’s the obvious check against restaurants dictating who reviews them. If the restaurant can identify the critic then I don’t care about the review anyways because their meal experience is likely very different than what mine would be.

  • Borborygmus

    FAIR FOOD

    Temperatures are lowered yet it’s hotter than hell
    In Dallas’ food world. Whatever would impel
    A visit to the ATM for $450 in cash?
    Perhaps her unveiling did cause abash.
    And really, did it not seem apparently
    That all this would result in a restaurateur errantly
    Getting ahead of the story, before the review?
    The DMN critic had a chance to talk too,
    On her own platform, yet column is silent
    About the incident that was verbally violent.
    Perhaps saving the tale for a better story,
    Seeing the owners as her critical quarry.
    Remember The Mercury and a table side argument
    About cheese? Or was it a wish for acknowledgement
    By a megalomaniac critic, climbing the heap
    Of dead restaurants she’s buried, how does she sleep?
    So please, News listen, it’s not just this fight
    That has restaurants willing to show outward spite.
    A wine review at Pecan Lodge is not exactly touché,
    Instead it makes Dallas look really douchey.

  • Nancy Nichols

    I would journal what happened. I’d say I went in to review, got recognized and the owner wouldn’t let me pay for the meal and then go into a regular restaurant review.BUT I’d have to ask my publisher first about the fine line between “comp’éd meal” versus “refusal to bill.” Our policy is the same as DMN and I’m as strict as Leslie here, but I’d find a way to work the story in. The problem she faces is going back for another visit. And photography. One restaurant this week already refused a DMN photographer for a review so they are running it without art. That may seem like a little thing, but if photography clearance, chef interviews, and visits to the restaurants are denied, that could be quite a problem.

  • Angela Gaston

    Oh I think it did. Inigo Montoya would be proud.

  • Vman

    I understand that people like certain reviewers over others, but I don’t get the hate.

    Leslie Brenner has ruined careers out of spite

    Really? Name two. Remember the criteria, she ruined a career. And not because she didn’t like the food but purely out of spite.

  • Angela Gaston

    At a BBQ joint? Wow, lame.

  • Angela Gaston

    How does this Leslie woman still have a job? Especially after this: http://dallas.eater.com/2014/7/17/6185237/john-tesar-bans-leslie-brenner-from-his-restaurants

  • hhwills

    Except it appears they were trying to force her into a position in which she couldn’t review them by comping the meal.

  • chip

    what kind of a stupid name is proof + pantry? lol dallas has such a unique brand of inbred pretension.

  • Whatevs

    HAHAHA. What are they going to do next, stop people from Yelping their ratings too? Stupid is as stupid does.Who cares what a local food critic thinks anyway?

  • Greg Brown

    There is great writing on the Dallas Food Scene at the Observer, D-Mag, Eater, Zagat, Trip Advisor, etc. This is where I go to get accurate information. There are a couple of private bloggers who are in it for themselves and themselves only. I have seen them in action and it is sad to watch–small people attempting to be big. This is for another thread and I really should not have posted that tangental thought in the first place. Let’s keep the heat on Brenner for now.

  • Greg Brown

    Michelin started it. Everyone else copied it.

  • Lisa Kresl

    Nancy, once again you have failed to report
    both sides of the story.

  • CSP

    Nancy, are you aware of any situation like this — the most visible food critic in a market not only being disliked but being held so openly in contempt by many prominent restauranteurs in that market — happening anywhere else in the country? If so, how long did that critic last in that market?

  • Ricky Ferrer

    New York Times also has a numerical rating.

  • twinwillow

    I found her picture a long time ago by searching one of her book titles on Amazon. Sure enough, there was her picture as plain as day on the back of her book’s dust jacket.

  • Floyd Turbo

    If I can find someone who looks like Ms Brenner I am going to Start eating some really good good comped meals in Dallas. Has anyone published the list of fine dining establishments offering this deluxe meal plan. Alcohol and tip included I assume .

  • twinwillow

    I must concur.

  • Travel Addict

    I think it’s ridiculous to think Brenner’s reviews or anyone else’s reviews make or break a restaurant’s reputation. Consistant quality food and service is what it’s all about. I read the reviews and then decide for myself. It is the reviews that let me know a place exists and is notable enough to attract a food critic. This is just a brilliant PR move on Pantry’s part.

  • Lisa Kresl

    Nancy does not take the time to report both sides of the story.

  • chgafdgdjag

    You said yourself… You read the reviews THEN you decide for yourself. Point is, you read the reviews as a first step to determine where you should go eat. You are likely to not try a place with poor reviews. Leslie Brenner provides reviews with a high am out of readers. She has influence over how a restaurant is perceived and is a deciding factor for a lot of people of where they should try…. Sorry to burst your bubble, but this can make or break a restaurant. Not nearly as much as it used to before Yelp, etc… But it still matters. These guys took a valiant risk.

  • Nancy’s dried up garden

    Dmagazine’s food “criticism” is gross. Of course rating systems are bad when your magazine depends on restaurant revenue. Nichols lashes hard on Brenner because Brenner is good, spot on and tips sacred cows – the restaurant oligarchy. This reminds me of Rogers’ attacks on Jim Schutze when Wick’s real estate and investor patrons wanted a toll road.

  • Kevin

    Anyone who cares to know is aware exactly what she looks like. I knew what she looked like before she ever got to town. She looks exactly like the author photos inside the covers of her books, just a bit older. She also ensures she is recognized by behavior that is outside the norm. She dines very frequently with her very recognizable husband and with her son. DMN is barely paying lip service to anonymous criticism. Most restauranteurs/chefs/FOH managers I know were aware of her presence as soon as she hit the door, if not before.

  • Kevin

    Search for “The Fourth Star” by Leslie Brenner on Amazon. Click “look inside.” Click “back flap.” There she is and Bob’s your uncle. Don’t even need to buy the book.

  • Les Hall

    Thanks to I love Genie outfit ☺

  • ell

    I love to read Leslie Brenner’s reviews-they are smart, thoughtful and interesting to read. Her reviews are the reason I click on the DMN website! I’m not the only one, I know others who wait to see what she has to say about a new restaurant or a return to a previously reviewed establishment. Hang in there Mrs. Brenner-there are a lot of negative voices, but you have a lot of support as well. This too shall pass… and I am looking forward to reading more thought provoking reviews.

  • Lord

    What is a “freaking” book? Is this some sort of publishing niche?

  • SamTheMan

    I find this whole conversation interesting. I can see both sides. The underlying issue is the meat. Take away the emotions and facts of the event and you find a movement against a food critic. What if restaurants got together and did the same thing? The News can’t fire her. This will be interesting to follow. I don’t have a dog in this fight but I do find Brenner’s reviews to be more about herself than the restaurant. And the stars never match up to the words in the review.

  • Jim Schutze

    Where in the world would these guys have gotten the idea that they had even the slightest right to decide whether they were to be reviewed or not? Do they not even know what a review is? What iin the world is all cornball stuff with the money about? I can’t even understand what they were trying to do except that it feels very sleazy, as if all of this happened because what they really thought they were doing was buying a favorable review by comping the meal. These people just sound like unsophisticated hicks, and so do all of the other restaurant types here whining about being reviewed. Take it to Tyler, man.

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  • Passé Critics

    Her reviews are garbage and her opinion changes week by week. That inconsistent opinion can ruin someone’s livelihood so I believe the restaurant is well within their right to decline a review OR refuse service to anyone, even if that person and her friends are self-righteous wind bags.

  • Bev Garvin

    Brenner has compromised the integrity of her work and DMNs reputation too many times. Restaurants are fed up with Brenner’s nonsense and it’s refreshing to see them taking matters into their own hands. I had no idea my article http://bit.ly/BrennersBlunders could have such an impact, but I’m proud to know it has.

    When I spoke to Martenson several weeks ago, I told him he could opt-out of Brenner’s review by comping her check. He lit-up with delight. I felt comping her check would be a more civilized way to handle the matter, than to ban her from a restaurant. It’s unfortunate Brenner’s refusal to cooperate leaves restaurants with few other options.

    If Brenner goes ahead and reviews Proof & Pantry after this, that would be a huge breach of ethics. it’s not possible for her to write an unbiased review after the events that transpired. If Brenner wants to be taken seriously in Dallas, adding to the long list of Brenner boner moves is not the way to go.

    #PowerToThePeople #BoycottBrenner

  • #opkill

    Nice of you to stick up for your BFF Leslie, but she, Lisa Kresl, Keven Willey and all the rest of the people at that place do NOT care about readers, despite what they mindlessly recite. That attitude is what comes through loud and clear with this whole episode. They’re the imperious leaders who will decide. Good for the restaurant for bucking that.

  • Jon Alexis

    this thing has officially entered crazytown when JIM SCHUTZE is accused of defending the DMN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • SidesWithThat

    With her picture up at many restaurants and a reputation – shouldn’t she be worried about extra things getting thrown into her dishes for free? Sounds like she’s scorched the earth. I wouldn’t be eating out at all if I was her.

  • Thierry Peremarti

    Dear Nancy,

    I’m hoping that I don’t offend you by calling you Nancy; after all we have never met. I just wanted to thank you for putting my name in D magazine, for which I feel so privileged, especially right below yours. Thank you also for spelling it right – it’s not that easy. I can’t hide that the pride I feel crowns my journalistic career of almost thirty years. I wasn’t expecting such a boost.

    You’ll forgive me for pointing out a couple of tiny inaccuracies; I felt you and your small club might like to know about them. Although I am not sure.

    Mr. Martensen, whom you are quoting, might have not heard well what I was telling him, perhaps due to the fact that the music was blasting in his restaurant. You know, we music journalists never feel comfortable when music is too present since we have trouble detaching ourselves from it. We can’t not listen — a professional deformation of some sort. In any case, I can only think that Mr. Martensen didn’t hear me, since your abilities, professionalism and reputation as a journalist are well known, and you must have quoted him accurately.

    First, I was not furious at all. Why would I be ? Why would I have been furious about not paying a bill with money that is not mine ?

    Further, I never told him I write for the Observer, a publication I respect. How presumptuous that would have been, when I have only contributed two stories and one photo. I just feel honored that they have accepted my work a few times. In comparison, I have written way more for the Dallas Morning News, but I wouldn’t like to be seen as someone who brags. As for saying that I pay for my concert tickets, that’s a tiny bit exaggerated. Let’s say simply that I don’t remember ever buying a single concert ticket when I’m on the job. If music journalists had to pay for them, there wouldn’t be any music coverage at all. But I digress.

    What did I say to Mr. Martensen, you might ask me? I’m not sure it’s that important. For having been at Proof + Pantry that memorable night, I have the impression of having lived a completely different experience than the one you have reported. It’s like watching the movie after reading the book. I always prefer the book version.

    It seems that you have forgotten to ask the Dallas Morning News and the persons involved that evening their side of the story. Oops. As a journalist, I know it’s a mistake that can happen. Usually someone more experienced, more responsible as a journalist is behind you, correcting you, but you don’t seem to have such a person helping you. The thing is, that makes it no longer “reporting,” as you call it, just gossiping — which has its own value, I admit it. Your audience doesn’t seem to have seen the trick (I know I could have tried to find a better word than “trick,” but you know I’m French and English is not my native language). Let’s say the “manipulation.” Yes, your readers seem not to see the manipulation. Of course I agree with you that your club is not interested in being presented the truth in a fair and impartial journalistic way. They don’t wish to know the truth since they only want to hate.

    Perhaps it would have been important to tell what happened to the five $100 bills in the end. I feel like something is missing there. Am I really the only one feeling this way?

    I want to assure you that I feel proud to be associated with D magazine in such a professional endeavor. I want to thank you again. You will understand that we don’t even need to meet each other. I would feel so intimidated and unworthy of your time.

    With my love,

    Thierry Peremarti

  • Borborygmus

    DMN 1, “Restaurant types” 0. Jeez.

  • LocalYocal

    This coming from a guy who has had like 5 jobs in the last two years selling the same tired old “craft cocktail” nonsense. “Oh wait sir while I take 15 minutes to make your drink”. Then that picture he’s taken of himself and submitted, Really! Then there is same old “locally sourced and crafted” thing we hear all the time. There is nothing new here just the same old shtick. They want to make all these look at me proclamations but not be held accountable for them like everyone else, they a little bit like chicken*hits to me.

  • Greg Brown

    Brenner is not annonymous, nor Scott Reitz or Nancy Nichols for that matter. You can’t give an “anonymouns” review when it is clearly evident that the staff know who you are and may provide better service/food because of it. The issue as I see it, Jim, is that they (along with many others) don’t respect Brenner as a food writer/critic. In the twisted world of food writing you apparently cannot review a resturant if your meal has been comped. Whatever. I really don’t buy that as long as you disclose it up front. So preface it and go ahead with the review. Looks like this is going to end up ultimately as a consistent refusal on the part of many restaurants to grant chef interviews, photography, new happenings etc and essentially de-legitimize Brenner as a food critic and the DMN food section as a source of quality, timely dining news. All the power to them.

  • Greg Brown

    Brenner is not annonymous, nor Scott Reitz or Nancy Nichols for that matter. You can’t give an “anonymouns” review when it is clearly evident that the staff know who you are and may provide better service/food because of it. The issue as I see it, Jim, is that they (along with many others) don’t respect Brenner as a food writer/critic. In the twisted world of food writing you apparently cannot review a resturant if your meal has been comped. Whatever. I really don’t buy that as long as you disclose it up front. So preface it and go ahead with the review. Looks like this is going to end up ultimately as a consistent refusal on the part of many restaurants to grant chef interviews, photography, new happenings etc and essentially de-legitimize Brenner as a food critic and the DMN food section as a source of quality, timely dining news. All the power to them.

  • Bev Garvin

    Martenson got the idea from me when I interviewed him for an article I published last week about Brenner where I offered comping Brenner’s check as an alternative to banning her. Many restaurant owners and chefs are fed up with Brenner and have felt powerless to do anything about it.

    Every restaurant has the right to decide who they do and don’t want to serve and in what capacity. They comped her meal because they don’t respect Brenner’s opinions and did not want her to review Proof & Pantry. If she writes a review about Proof & Pantry after they comped her meal it’s considered a breech of ethics.

    #PowerToThePeople #BoycottBrenner

  • Greg Brown

    Brenner is not anonymous, nor Scott Reitz or Nancy Nichols for that matter. You can’t give an “anonymous” review when it is clearly evident that the staff know who you are and may provide better service/food because of it. In the internet age anonymity is gone and such age-old concepts will have to be re-thought. I’m sure Brenner will press on with the review and it will curious to see her side of the issue. The bigger issue as I see it, Jim, is that P+P (along with many others) don’t respect Brenner as a food writer/critic. Looks like this is going to end up ultimately as a consistent refusal on the part of many restaurants to grant chef interviews, photography, new happenings etc and essentially de-legitimize Brenner as a food critic and the DMN food section as a source of quality, timely dining news. All the power to them.

  • Edward Genny

    Bravo. Finally getting some of her own medicine.

  • Jim Schutze

    Let me see if I really and truly get your concept of ethics. The newspaper requires the critic to pay for meals in order to avoid bribery of the critic by restaurants. The paper requires the critic to be anonymous — not like some idiot with a Guy Fawkes mask for Christ’s sake, just not making the rez under her real name to give them time to do a fake set-up — so you honestly believe these rules can be flipped to prohibit a review if you comp the meal or know the critic when he/she shows up. Tell me, how would that help make reviews more honest? Ethical rules aren’t a card game. You really can’t play them backwards. The rules as set up by the paper make sense. The rules as you construe them would be stupid.

  • Jim Schutze

    Right, and at the end of every movie review there should be a paragraph in agate type saying, “Mr.Pacino has informed the paper that, “I don’t have no respect for this critic whatsomeever.”

  • Jim Schutze

    Wrong, you got it backwards. The hero of Favreau’s “Chef” was the critic.

  • Jim Schutze

    Bev, ethics is not your strong suit.

  • Borborygmus

    Call me gobsmacked. The journalist who heaps criticism on the DMN for almost everything stupid they do, now wants to defend their food critic? As a hero? Which by extension would mean that her standards are an improvement, somehow making our city restaurants give a better dining experience? Yeah, “World Class”, like in bridges, and toll roads, and new shiny buildings.

    First, let’s assume that you’ve had no opportunity to join Ms. Brenner as a “colleague diner” on one of her DMN paid reviews (wouldn’t that be ironic), since I believe your family member also works at the DMN. I didn’t think so. Next.

    Second, I think it’s interesting that these chef/owners who are rebelling are all chefs/owners that have risen under Ms. Brenner’s tenure. She made them in previous reviews, yet they reject her.

    Third, in 30 years in Dallas, even when there were 2 daily newspapers, there has never been such denigration of a critic by the restaurant community. Nor have any of the other current reviewers been subjected to such blatant dislike over their columns.

    Fourth, a critic can write whatever they want, but it doesn’t mean they are agreed with by the people who read what they write. From personal discussions, I can only say I am asked over and over again, “what happened to the DMN restaurant reviews?” To which I reply, “you need to ask her bosses”.

    I’m torn, because I have respect for your efforts and writing, yet I am disappointed that your jump to defend her is based on a fictional movie (your son was brilliant, by the way) critic. And the way the restaurateurs were treated the next day at the DMN, no, that doesn’t sound like “Big Brother” at all, threatening their livelihoods with a bad review. I guess if they’d owned a car wash in South Dallas, you’d have more sympathy for them?

    I’m (guessing? hoping? understanding?) this might be a reaction to someone who you respect being attacked? Then I’m hoping you can understand the restaurant community’s reaction when she can be eviscerating and dismissive of the entire Dallas restaurant culture.

    Perhaps you love all her 5 star restaurants. Maybe you think this is just a silly fight between “restaurant types” and rich white people. Whatevs. Hopefully, though, you’ll consider the might of the DMN as it applies to every aspect of our city, and understand that the veterans of the nightly kitchens are just trying to struggle against the big guy for our piece of a small pie.

  • The Dude

    That was a movie. This is real life. Big difference. Wake me up when Brenner fronts these guys their next down payment on their newest restaurant.

  • Ellen Sackett

    I can’t wait to read the review.

  • Ellen Sackett

    I can’t wait to read the review.

  • Leslie Brenner

    This post is filled with inaccuracies and mischaracterizations, and neither I nor anyone at The Dallas Morning News was contacted for comment. Lisa Kresl, Keven Ann Willey and I would like to point out the following:

    1. Keven Ann Willey’s title is vice president and editorial page editor at The Dallas Morning News.
    2. Georges Badoux is a former chef, restaurant owner and tour operator; he’s retired now.
    3. I didn’t demand a bill; I asked for a bill.
    4. My husband wasn’t furious, and he never said he writes music reviews for the Observer. He didn’t mention the Observer, and he didn’t say that music writers pay for their own tickets. What he told Martensen is that he’s been a music journalist for 29 years. For the record, he’s a columnist and U.S. correspondent at Jazz News, a French magazine. He has written occasionally for The Dallas Morning News and has contributed two stories and one photograph to the Observer.
    5. There was no yelling on either side last night at the restaurant; the exchange remained cordial.
    6. At the meeting at the Dallas Morning News this morning, Martensen met with our acting managing editor, Keith Campbell, in addition to Lisa Kresl and Keven Ann Willey. That meeting was cordial, as well. Things did not “get ugly.” In fact, when Keven greeted them at reception, they said they came to drop something off, but Keven invited them in for a conversation.
    7. If Martensen and Jafar left the meeting feeling threatened, they certainly didn’t show any indication of it. In fact, Jafar described the meeting as “positive” while waiting for an elevator after the conversation. Everybody shook hands, and far from being threatening, Lisa said, “It was a pleasure to meet you in person.” Again, things remained cordial the whole time.
    8. Finally, we want to make sure it is clear that Martensen and Jafar left The Dallas Morning News with the $500 in their possession.

  • Leslie Brenner

    This post is filled with inaccuracies and mischaracterizations, and neither I nor anyone at The Dallas Morning News was contacted for comment. Lisa Kresl, Keven Ann Willey and I would like to point out the following:

    1. Keven Ann Willey’s title is vice president and editorial page editor at The Dallas Morning News.
    2. Georges Badoux is a former chef, restaurant owner and tour operator; he’s retired now.
    3. I didn’t demand a bill; I asked for a bill.
    4. My husband wasn’t furious, and he never said he writes music reviews for the Observer. He didn’t mention the Observer, and he didn’t say that music writers pay for their own tickets. What he told Martensen is that he’s been a music journalist for 29 years. For the record, he’s a columnist and U.S. correspondent at Jazz News, a French magazine. He has written occasionally for The Dallas Morning News and has contributed two stories and one photograph to the Observer.
    5. There was no yelling on either side last night at the restaurant; the exchange remained cordial.
    6. At the meeting at the Dallas Morning News this morning, Martensen met with our acting managing editor, Keith Campbell, in addition to Lisa Kresl and Keven Ann Willey. That meeting was cordial, as well. Things did not “get ugly.” In fact, when Keven greeted them at reception, they said they came to drop something off, but Keven invited them in for a conversation.
    7. If Martensen and Jafar left the meeting feeling threatened, they certainly didn’t show any indication of it. In fact, Jafar described the meeting as “positive” while waiting for an elevator after the conversation. Everybody shook hands, and far from being threatening, Lisa said, “It was a pleasure to meet you in person.” Again, things remained cordial the whole time.
    8. Finally, we want to make sure it is clear that Martensen and Jafar left The Dallas Morning News with the $500 in their possession.

  • Nancy Nichols

    I agree. I would like to see the names. I don’t believe any critic in this town has that kind of “power.”

  • Nancy Nichols

    he did not submit that picture. my editor added it from our archives.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Chip, I’m with you on the name.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Good lord, Eric. When did you get so smart? I totally agree with your last paragraph. That’s the way to handle it. I’m almost jealous it didn’t happen to me. I want to write that review.

  • Ellen Sackett

    I am looking forward to reading the review.

  • Guy_Incognito

    LOL…My God, could you be any more self-righteous?

    Here’s an idea – get a real cause to campaign for and quit acting like Brenner’s reviews of restaurants are important enough to actually care about.

  • Nancy Nichols

    you are correct.

  • Nancy Nichols

    nope, I’m not. several restaurateurs have tried to have me fired and I know critics get banned from time to time, but I don’t know of anyone losing a job over the hoopla. Probably has the opposite effect as far as job security goes.

  • Guy_Incognito

    The real question here is when Martensen has his inevitable falling out at Proof+Pantry in 8-12 months, will the new owners allow Brenner to review the restaurant?

    But seriously, this idea that Brenner makes or breaks a restaurant with her review is so completely unfounded. She’s given plenty of negative reviews to restaurants that are still thriving, and given glowing reviews to restaurants that folded shortly after. Tesar, Martensen, et al. acting as if they have some moral high-ground in these spats with Brenner is comical.

  • Nancy Nichols

    JIm, nobody said these guys felt they had the right not to be reviewed. They were protesting the star rating system. They are not alone. Several other restaurants are mounting campaigns to not participate with the DMN review system in its current form. You can question their method–by not accepting money they were attempting to throw a wrench in Ms. Brenner’s methodology.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Leslie, you and Lisa are correct. The report would have been more balanced if I’d contacted you. Despite my mistakes, shortcomings, and knee-jerk posts, there is a relevant story beneath the smoke. The star rating system you apply to your reviews is flawed. You list maybe five five-star dining experiences in Dallas? How can you not find a five-star experience in a Tex-Mex joint? Once you set the bar that high and hand out two-star ratings to restaurants you like but don’t love, it, in my opinion, confuses the reader who just glances at the stars. The point of my post is that restaurateurs do not like your vision of the star system, and they are trying to find a way to not get pigeonholed for, sometimes, years. They have a right to speak out. I never felt, or reported the owners of P+P were trying to tell you that you could not write a review. That is ridiculous. They and other restaurateurs may have chosen questionable methods for their protests, but their message is clear. Loosen up. Times have changed. Color code your stars by price point blue five stars means a spectacular $10 meal. That would serve your readers.

  • Edward Willey

    As an serious wine connoisseur knows, reviews by professional critics are useful, even if one does not particularly agree with all the sensibilities of that critic or share a similar palate. For example, I know that certain critics think lean, low alcohol wines are good. I avoid those reviews, mostly, but sometimes they can be useful insofar as I know the starting POV of the particular reviewer and I can understand how they approach some wines I like. I also read a variety of sources. As it turns out, Wine Spectator’s readership is the most affluent of any major magazine. Surely there is a reason why these folks with serious money to spend on consumer products see real value in reading a publication that, whether or not they always agree on a rating, provides information not easily obtained elsewhere. Likewise, I don’t always agree with Leslie Brenner’s take on every establishment, but more often than not I can get at least something from the review that helps me to understand the restaurant. It seems that some proprietors and artisans are taking offense to criticism from the Morning News’ professional critics for reasons that appear to be suspect. The point of professional criticism is to share how a particular offering fares against a “gold standard”. It’s all very well and good that a couple thousand people like a restaurant and post Yelp reviews and write on blogs, but an out of town visitor wanting to eat a “French” meal deserves to know that neither Boulevardier nor the French Room will offer a totally authentic French dining experience. Both of these examples are terrific places to enjoy a meal – and i will be at the latter on Wednesday – but they are not true bastions of French dining. (I’ve never dined at a 3 Michelin star establishment in France, but I have managed 2 Michelin stars. It was a sublime meal.) Similarly, it is not the case that every performance by the Dallas Symphony is a stunning, world class event. Some are better than others. Some soloists are better than others. The current Dallas Symphony Chorus sounds better than the DSC under the iconic David Davidson. I greatly admire David and do miss his tremendous presence and energy (he died from cancer, as some of you will know), but we should give credit to the current group of singers and director for working very, very hard to become world class. There is nothing wrong with saying that the current Dallas Symphony and DSC are significantly better than the groups of 10 years ago. How, then, should we view those “negative” reviews from the past that produced such scorn? What’s wrong with saying that Segovia – while doing a creditable job at the French Room, is not taking the creative risks that his predecessor might have taken to push the menu forward? (I have dined frequently under both.) As a now 10 year Dallas resident, I’m tremendously proud of what our community has to offer. I do not understand why we should not aspire to the highest standards. This city – and indeed the Metroplex, including Fort Worth – has an enormous amount of energy and ambition. But not everything we produce is world class. Yet. The DFW of today is a better place than the DFW I saw when I moved here. We should not be afraid to push ourselves and the only way we can do that is to look at what we are doing today and how it compares to where we would like to be.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Thank you, Edward.

  • Edward Willey

    The restaurant is trying to do an end run around the DMN’s ethics rules. It’s a clever trick, nothing more. The fact is that she tried to pay and when refused did in fact deliver cash. It would be within the DMN’s prerogative to run a review. No ethics violation here, folks.

  • #opkill

    It’s too sad to see Brenner’s “unsophisticated hicks” snobbism rub off on Schutze who is known for defending the little guy. But getting invited on freebie reviews with a sophisticated couple like the Brenners clouds your judgment.

  • Edward Willey

    What alternative are they proposing? In business, a person who criticizes a current system is expected to suggest an alternative. Since you are close to the “pulse” of the food scene, are you able to share what they would find more useful to the public? I’m curious to know. Seriously.

  • Borborygmus

    There’s that damn term “world class” again. Could somebody please define that? Because we are apparently missing it, for like forever. Schools, bridges, toll roads in parks, food, architecture, no “world class” to be found in any of it. If we’re missing it, do we really need it? Well, I guess if you go to the symphony, or drink $150 bottles of 2003 Moet & Chandon regularly, it matters a lot.

    Forget ebola, affluenza is killing our city.

  • Liebling

    These restaurateurs sound like food loonies – anybody has the right to comment on a meal, regardless of what the owners/chef think of them – grow up

  • Michael Martensen

    Thank you for your gift

    Dear ,

    Thank you for supporting Communities Foundation of Texas. Through gifts such as yours, we are able to improve lives by making wise investments and effective charitable grants.

    Your charitable gift to Communities Foundation of Texas is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. No goods or services were provided, in whole or in part, for this gift. Through the governance of the trustees, and as required by law, Communities Foundation of Texas maintains control of all assets which are gifted to the foundation.

    Please print and keep a copy of this acknowledgment for tax purposes as your receipt. If you would like to receive a hard copy by mail, please contact [email protected].

    The following is a summary about your gift:

    Payment Method: Credit Card
    Gift Amount: $500.00
    Gift Date: 10/5/2014
    Designation: The Dallas Morning News Charities Fund
    Tribute: Leslie Brenner & Ann Willey

    We are truly grateful for your generosity.

    Sincerely,

    Brent E. Christopher
    President & CEO

  • Nancy Nichols

    I agree with your statement. I have no idea what they propose. I’ve posted my suggestion many times and again above under Ms. Brenner’s post: “Despite my mistakes, shortcomings, and knee-jerk posts, there is a relevant story beneath the smoke. The star rating system you apply to your reviews is flawed. You list maybe five five-star dining experiences in Dallas? How can you not find a five-star experience in a Tex-Mex joint? Once you set the bar that high and hand out two-star ratings to restaurants you like but don’t love, it, in my opinion, confuses the reader who just glances at the stars. The point of my post is that restaurateurs do not like your vision of the star system, and they are trying to find a way to not get pigeonholed for, sometimes, years. They have a right to speak out. I never felt, or reported the owners of P+P were trying to tell you that you could not write a review. That is ridiculous. They and other restaurateurs may have chosen questionable methods for their protests, but their message is clear. Loosen up. Times have changed. Color code your stars by price point blue five stars means a spectacular $10 meal. That would serve your readers.” Just one idea.

  • DMNSCantrell

    Whatever one may think of Leslie Brenner and her reviews, Nancy Nichols and D Magazine were irresponsible to publish this “account” of what happened based on one very opinionated side of the story, with no attempt to interview Leslie or Lisa Kresl at the DMN. This would be a firing offense at any self-respecting newspaper.

    • Nancy Nichols
    • #opkill

      This is a blog, not a “self-respecting newspaper,” although it’s understandable that an employee of the DMN might still not know that difference.
      Kudos to Nancy for getting at least 3, maybe 4, employees of the self-respecting newspaper to work all weekend, a time period foreign to them otherwise. Look for some Personal Days to be taken this week!

  • DMNSCantrell

    And I see that D Magazine has not even seen fit to print the rebuttal Leslie submitted.

    • Nancy Nichols

      I responded to Leslie Brenner’s comment as soon as she let me know it was there. It’s above. Read before you throw stones.

  • Pancho

    Leisle – I can’t believe you went that low! A lady doesn’t do that! Let’s be more civilized next time.

  • DMNSCantrell

    I stand corrected. It had not appeared when I wrote what I did. I’ll not respond to your comment about throwing stones.

  • Morgan Fellows

    Is this guy for real? No wonder they are married. They are the same. That’s some journalism he’s writing there.

  • DMNSCantrell

    You and restaurateurs are certainly entitled to critique the rating system. That’s a valid point, to which I have some sympathy. Just come out and write about that. But to wrap that issue in your imagination of two encounters at which you were not present, and for which you depended wholly on one side of the story, was utterly irresponsible.

  • Nancy Nichols

    I understand. You are correct. However, in her statement above (see numbers 6.7 & 8) Brenner reports on a situation that took place and she was not a part of that meeting. How does she know Jafar called the meeting positive and “certainly didn’t show any indication of it” She took someone else’s account. Nitpicking? Yes, I am The first three notes that Brenner calls inaccuracies are ridiculous. chef v former chef v retired chef? He’s still a chef. Can we discuss the issues.

  • Leslie Brenner

    Nancy, as I thought I made clear in the second sentence, it is Lisa Kresl, Keven Ann Willey and I who together are pointing out the inaccuracies. We collaborated on the list. I would never presume to report something on my own if I did not witness it; that’s why I asked them to compile the list of inaccuracies with me. Meanwhile, I don’t think it’s for you to judge whether inaccuracies are “ridiculous” or worth mentioning. Making a review visit with a chef currently working in Dallas would be a breach of journalistic ethics. Making a review visit with someone who retired as a chef many years ago and never worked in this market is not an ethical breach. I don’t find such distinctions to be ridiculous.

  • Jami

    I don’t have a dog in this fight as I don’t know either of you, but as a longtime reader of both of yours, it sure seems as if Nancy has an ax to grind with Leslie. It’s bizarre to read and seems wholly unprofessional. Why on earth would the food critic for one publication think she should have a say in how another publication’s reviewing system?

  • Honcho

    They asked to not be reviewed but they damn sure don’t mind some good press which you have ably provided.

  • Vman

    Because as everyone knows, newspapers only come out M-F. No one in the newspaper biz works weekends.

  • Tamara Brock

    It’s extremely helpful to have a rating system and Leslie Brenner ‘s reviews have been great! I’m personally not going to waste my time or money at Proof + Pantry if the owners/managers behaved that way. Proof + Pantry has plenty of negative reviews from other foodie bloggers giving them 2 stars, 1 star etc. maybe they’re just afraid of the truth. But even without seeing Ms. Brenner’s review I’m giving this place a thumbs down.

    • Kat

      OH MY GOSH WE GET IT, STAAHHHPPP. We get that you haaate Nancy and LOOOOOVEEE Leslie. Seriously, unless you have something else to add, stop. It’s ridiculous.

  • Tamara Brock

    It’s extremely helpful to have a rating system and Leslie Brenner ‘s reviews have been great! I’m personally not going to waste my time or money at Proof + Pantry if the owners/managers behaved that way. Proof + Pantry has plenty of negative reviews from other foodie bloggers giving them 2 stars, 1 star etc. maybe they’re just afraid of the truth. But even without seeing Ms. Brenner’s review I’m giving this place a thumbs down.

  • Stephen Goetzmann

    This D Mag article highlights the lack of professionalism in blogs. Why not ask for comment instead of accepting and reprinting gossip? I gather it is poor training … Lack of respect for the profession… I don’t know. The reporters I know want to get it right and are compelled by their belief in its important role in our society to follow this simple rule!!!!

    My question for these seemingly innocent owners is if you don’t want your restaurant “starred” why not be upfront . Tell Ms. Brenner directly that you don’t want a review!!!!

    My sense is they knew she could not review if it was comped so they laid in wait. When there scheme was foiled they might well have inflated their uncorroborated version of events.

    A thoughtful journalist would consider this possibility and try to find the truth instead of reprinting just gossip.

    • Nancy Nichols

      The restaurant owners did as you suggested. However, they can’t stop her from reviewing. I don’t view this as gossip. There were other witnesses. However, I should have contacted Brenner for her side of the story.

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  • Ensommeillé

    Now we know why the dinner lasted over four hours.

  • Teema

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but Nancy are you not the one who failed to properly fact check outrageous statements made by a potentially disgruntled restaurant owner who already got low grades from a number of other critics? Maybe you should’ve started your article with “While I only received one side of this story, and my employer receives advertising money from this restaurant owner…” It is my opinion that D Mag is well-known for “selling” ad space and pretending that those who pay for beautiful picture spreads in the “Best of” section, are real assessments of skill. I cannot tell you how many times I see “best doctors” that I wouldn’t send my worst enemy to because of how bad they are. So I have to ask, if they tried to comp Ms. Brenner, how much did they pay D Mag for this very poorly researched article?

  • Teema

    Way to deflect from the real issue Nancy. I’m glad to know D Mag hires teenagers! Why don’t you answer the REAL question – why did you not fact check and speak with the other side?

  • Borborygmus

    I did not say thay he had accompanied them, I only asked to clarify because it is an accepted habit to take one’s coworkers on a review. I’d like to believe that he’s as uncorruptable as they come, please don’t destroy the last vestige of naivete I have.

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  • Teema

    Yeah, but Ms. Brenner, or any of those in her party that night who were bashed could have a good defamation/libel case against D Mag and Ms. Nichols because Ms. Nichols appears to be misrepresenting comments by an apparently disgruntled restaurant owner as the facts of the events without interviewing ANYONE of the Brenner party or otherwise interviewing unbiased witnesses to fact check. In exercising my right to speak freely, I say she should sue Ms. Nichols and D Mag! Go OPEN COURTS provision of the Texas State Constitution (Texas Constitution Section 13) – and let’s boycott Proof+Pantry AND D Magazine (as our exercise of FREE SPEECH under the United States Constitution)!!!!!!

  • Borborygmus

    DMN=NYT=Michelin? Really?

  • Uggh

    After spending 25 wasted minutes reading this thread, I have only one question. How does the critic and the DMN respond to the questions about methodolgy. I don’t expect a response, but that is what I’m left to wonder. Four more minutes of my life wasted by typing this with one finger on a stupid iPad.

  • Willie

    Well Bev is a John Tesar associate so it makes sense she would give the primadonnas at Proof plus Pantry the idea. She’s not a journalist….just a web page designer

  • Willie

    Wow Bev. You are really sticking it to the Dallas Morning News. I bet your your hashtags become a national movement.

  • Tamara Brock

    You are right Lisa! I couldn’t agree more. Shame on you Nancy.

  • Tamara Brock

    But you’ve not posted comments others have made that don’t support your version of things. I’m copying and saving all my responses that have not shown up on this mediated blog. None of which are offensive but keep asking you why you did not fact check or disclose they you did not – among other things

  • John Knott

    apparently Mr Willey is a music expert as well as a foodie…wow

  • Richard Pollak

    Maybe Martensen will also get a reality show

  • Vman

    And Bev, please quit sending strangers your email entitled The Hunger Games Guide to Leslie Brenner. It makes you sound really crazy.

  • Edward Willey

    We do have many “world class” aspects to our city. For example, the Meyerson Symphony Center is a terrific concert hall. It’s red-wrapped neighbor has some sight line problems, but it sounds pretty good and is very distinctive. Our orchestra sounds pretty darned terrific these days. However, we do have serious infrastructure problems. I would also add that our dining is too focused on meat – big meat slabs – which probably helps to make us one of the fattest cities in the US. By the way, I drink Bollinger and Krug, not Dom Perignon. They are better and cheaper if you know where to shop.

  • Edward Willey

    I think you missed the point. Recently both Leslie Brenner and Scott Cantrell have been attacked for their style and manner of criticism. Scott happens to write about the Symphony as the DMN’s classical music critic, which makes my comment in that regard relevant. I’ve actually sung in the Symphony Chorus as well and served on a committee at the Dallas Opera, so I may know something about the matter. Your “snark” is a cheap form of criticism.

  • Fan of Food

    Kudos to Martensen! Leslie Brenner is evil!

  • Guy_Incognito

    I had totally forgotten about that weird, spammy e-mail.

    It makes perfect sense that the same person using #PowerToThePeople as a hashtag for a blog post about a food critic would think that people would want to read her idiotic e-mails.

  • Ricky Ferrer
  • DMNSCantrell

    What amazes me is that D Magazine still has this irresponsible and discredited blog item on its website. If Nancy Nichols had any credibility before, she has none now.

    • #opkill

      Discredited by whom? Is that the insular view from inside Belo? How funny. Because out here in the rest of the world, the prevailing view is still that Brenner and her superiors have some questions to answer about the newspaper’s policies on reviewing.

    • John Knott

      really Cantrell? I’ll take Nancy’s blog over Brenner any day…why I’ve even attended concerts you’ve reviewed and well ; we’ll leave it at that

  • tested

    I read this post and many of the comments and have several thoughts.

    1. The DMN reviewer should have done as Eric suggested and just had the newspaper donate to a charity and explained what the restaurant owners did. Let the reader decide.

    2. D should have gotten DMN’s side of this before posting the story.

    3. I am absolutely stunned that anyone reads restaurant reviews in the paper anymore. Clearly a lot of people posting comments here do. I suspect you all may represent 99% of the DMN reviewer’s audience.

  • einfachdoof

    Nancy said she’s jealous that the incident didn’t happen to her. Honey, we all know you are jealous of Leslie Brenner. Her name is front-and-center of your blog today. You can have her level of impact and fame, too. But you have to stop worrying about Leslie Brenner, and focus on your own readers. Do your readers want gossip about Leslie Brenner? Or do they want another trusted voice on Dallas restaurants, someone who can tell readers what to expect at restaurants, and hold restaurants to a standard? You have a choice, Nancy.

    • Nancy Nichols

      Oh my. I am not jealous of Leslie Brenner. Why would I be jealous? I have been writing about restaurants for almost 18 years and feel I have built a foundation of trust with my readers. I didn’t sign up to become a food blogger, but I have tried to evolve with the demands of the industry. Going from a monthly format (magazine) to a daily (hourly?) news blog is quite a change. And balancing the two is difficult because there are two distinctive readerships. Blogs are considered by some to be a more casual conversation. That is the choice I made. To try and do both. And I use my name and admit faults.

  • #opkill

    Teema darling, cut back on the caffeine. This is a blog post, not an article. There is a difference.

  • #opkill

    His status as a dining companion is the only reason he’s posting comments here. Otherwise this would not concern him at all.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Could you explain what is gross D Magazine’s food criticism? I curious. Restaurant revenue? Look through an issue of D Magazine and compare the number of restaurant ads with other businesses. The DMN also accepts restaurant advertising. Your projection has no validity in this conversation. If you like Brenner’s picks, then stick with them, My issue is the credibility of the star rating system under her management.

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  • Nancy Nichols

    Thanks for the levity. I’m sorry you feel it was wasted. It is time for the DMN to review their methodology. It has been in place for a long time and half the stars in the system were given by former critics. There is no consistency.

  • Nancy Nichols

    I agree with you: a critic can’t make or break a restaurant.

  • NO_REALLY

    I have no dog in this fight. But Nancy seems to have a real ax to grind. It makes her look pretty immature.

    • Nancy Nichols

      I have written about my opinions about the star rating system many times. If that is an ax, I will continue to grind. As I told Ms. Brenner (by email) last night, I disagree with her rating system. Why does that make me immature?

  • Nancy Nichols

    Edward, that is an interesting point you make. However, reporting on meat can hardly be avoided when it is the focus of a huge trend all over the country. Restaurants are ordering whole pig’s and butchering meat in their kitchens..Sausages, small farm cows, etc..When the economy is good, America eats meat. On the other hand, there is also a huge movement toward healthy food. Four or five restaurants with focus on natural foods with calorie counts, etc. are flourishing.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Teema, I addressed that question twice above. You are right, I should have contacted the other side.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Tamara, the blog has a filter system that keeps a response from going live until a human reads it. I have checked the system and there are zero posts waiting moderation.

  • RAB

    You meant “criterion.” (There was only the one: she ruined a career. “Criteria” is plural.)

  • UpTn DallasSocial

    First rate analysis, up until the last line. When, these days, are newspapers-especially the dmn DMN- ever “open and honest” about anything? Transparency is viewed as “lack of control”. And really, isn’t that what this whole brouhaha is about in the first place?

  • Me 2

    Now that was a mouth full…of foot

    I think I would stab my eye out with the butter knife… if having to endure 4 hours of such exhilarating conversation

  • Bev Garvin

    Jim & Willie —

    I take offense to the accusation that my ethics have been questioned.

    1-I am not a “Tesar associate” I worked for him two years ago, which was fully disclosed in the first paragraph. This has nothing to do with Tesar. I’m entitled to my opinion, just as you are yours. If you bothered to read my article you would know I have very valid reasons for why I think the way I do. I never claimed to be a “journalist” I’m a local person who loves food. My blog is a passion project, nothing more. I do not review restaurants, I leave that to the “professionals” who are paid to do that for a living. I write about things I care about and I have every right to do so. I am not compensated for anything I do on my blog and I do not sell advertising.

    I am, however, thrilled to see a real conversation taking place about the issue. The DMN Star Rating system is messed up and Leslie Brenner needs to do a better job. I stand by that statement.

  • Bev Garvin

    Jim & Willie —

    I take offense to the accusation that my ethics have been questioned.

    1-I am not a “Tesar associate” I worked for him two years ago, which was fully disclosed in the first paragraph. This has nothing to do with Tesar. I’m entitled to my opinion, just as you are yours. If you bothered to read my article you would know I have very valid reasons for why I think the way I do.

    2-I never claimed to be a “journalist” I’m a local person who loves food. My blog is a passion project, nothing more. I do not review restaurants, I leave that to the “professionals” who are paid to do that for a living. I write about things I care about and I have every right to do so. I am not compensated for anything I do on my blog and I do not sell advertising.

    I am, however, thrilled to see a real conversation taking place about the issue. The DMN Star Rating system is messed up and Leslie Brenner needs to do a better job. I stand by that statement.

  • Ellen Z

    You come off as incredibly petty and somewhat of a bully. Maybe people are tired of you campaigning against the DMN’s star system. What business is it of yours how another publication rates their restaurants? You’re obsessed with it! You seem to have quite a vendetta against Brenner. Give it a REST, Nancy!

  • Srsly?

    Second criterion: And not because she didn’t like the food but purely out of spite.

  • RAB

    This is the most awesome thread of comments in the history of FrontBurner. What a great Monday to start the week.

  • Ray Wortel

    Brenner is pretentious idiot. This is a trend that restauranteurs across Dallas should embrace. These are the days of social media and a review from D is of no consequence at all.

  • Ray Wortel

    Brenner is pretentious idiot. This is a trend that restauranteurs across Dallas should embrace. These are the days of social media and a print review is of little to no consequence at all. Why would a restaurant want allow scum like her in the building?

  • Ray Wortel

    Brenner is pretentious idiot. This is a trend that restauranteurs across Dallas should embrace. These are the days of social media and a print review is of little to no consequence at all. Why would a restaurant even allow scum like her in the building?

  • Ray Wortel

    Any person who refers to himself as a ‘serious wine connoisseur’ is a pretentious douche. Anyone who feels the need to write an entire essay in the comments section of an online post is also a pretentious douche. Edward Wiley is two for two.

  • UpTn DallasSocial

    Permit me to make a cynical point; I don’t think the owners of P+P were trying to “buy” a good review with a comped check. I’m pretty sure they were attempting to buy some heavy publicity for a newish business in a difficult location. I don’t think they care one way or another about Brenner’s style or rating system at the paper. Very likely they would’ve comped Nancy, or Scott Reitz, or any other anonymous “face” that walked in their joint, not because of some ethical principal, or even to buy a good review, but because they’re hip enough to know the word would get around and it would generate some “buzz”. Let’s face it: reviews, like newspapers (and magazines), are “old school” advertising. These days, if you want warm bodies in your place, and by “warm” I mean bodies with money, it’s more about the “buzz”. Those guys get it. This thread, and the one at the DMN, are proof. And you can take that to the pantry!

  • Minnie

    Based on the cover photo of Martensen with his shirt buttoned way down and that hairy chest, I can’t really take him seriously. Not appetizing.

  • LA Eater

    As a former reviewer, ‘veI had this happen several times. Sometimes the ending is happy, as when the sushi bar at the Park Hyatt Tokyo refused payment and I left a $175 tip (the price of the bill plus 15 percent) for the waiter. Other times you get a standoff. Don’t escalate, simply take a picture of the bill with the money, then leave. Brenner doesn’t need Jafar’s permission to review his restaurant and Jafar doesn’t get to opt out of a newspaper review system. A lot of reviewers hate the star systems, but readers love them.

  • P+P (MLC)

    By taking a stand against the Dallas Morning News restaurant review system, Misery Loves Co. restaurant group wishes to start a dialogue that will enact change. It is our belief that the newspaper’s current star-rating system is flawed and one in which we currently do not wish to take part. Until the system is revised, we will decline the opportunity to participate. We are not afraid to be reviewed, and know that we are reviewed every time a customer walks in the door. We welcome any and all reviews on Yelp, Open Table and other social dining sites, as well as other professional critic reviews. We are confident in the quality of the product and experience we are offering.

    The $500 given to us by Leslie Brenner/DMN has been donated on her behalf to The Dallas Morning News Charities Fund and an additional matching $500 donation has been made by Misery Loves Co.

  • montemalone

    Why would anyone base their dining decisions on the writings of pretentious know-it-alls in the first place?
    Go inside, look at the menu, inhale deeply, take a chance. If it sucks, complain.

  • montemalone

    Nothing like this ever happened to Alice Laussade.

  • Lou Alexander

    Never smart to pick a fight with people who buy ink by the railroad car!

  • Ian P.

    Has anyone contacted the Discover Channel yet?
    I think it’ll be a hit

  • Bev Garvin

    Guy_Incognito, Willie & Vman –

    Talk about being self-righteous! I guess it’s easy to bully people online who’s opinions differ from your own and spew sanctimonious dribble when hiding behind a fake name in an anonymous profile.

    PS There’s an unsubscribe button for a reason. Please use it.

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  • Leslie Brenner

    Nancy, it is absolutely incorrect to say that half the stars in our system were given by former critics. Once a review is four years old, we stop listing its star rating (for instance online and in our print Guide dining “best bets” listings). As our last staff critic, Bill Addison, left the paper in late 2008, that means none of his star ratings still stand.

  • jtrimble98

    wow, this comment actually explains a lot about her reviews….

    she’s married to this pretentious windbag!

    why are we supposed to take seriously her criticism of a tex mex place or burger joint when she’s dragging along some transplanted douche who doesn’t even work 35 hours a week?

  • Bev Garvin

    Also, there was only ONE email and it wasn’t sent to that many people.

    I’m pretty sure the chances of it being received by TWO people, who BOTH just happen to be commenting on D’s blog at the same time with anonymous profiles are slim to none.

    You must think you’re super smart, but it’s pretty obvious that you’re using multiple fake profiles for cyberation. Bye Felicia!

  • Bev Garvin

    Also, there was only ONE email and it wasn’t sent to that many people.

    I’m pretty sure the chances of it being received by TWO people, who BOTH just happen to be commenting on D’s blog at the same time with anonymous profiles are slim to none.

    You must think you’re super smart, but it’s pretty obvious that you’re using multiple fake profiles for cyberation. Bye Felicia!

  • Bev Garvin

    Also, there was only one email and it wasn’t sent to very many people.

    I’m pretty sure the chances of it being received by two people who both just happen to be commenting on D’s blog at the same time with anonymous profiles are slim to none.

    You must think you’re super smart, but it’s pretty obvious that you’re using multiple fake profiles for cyberation. Bye Felicia!

  • Bill Mavel

    “So they recognize you, treat you nice, whatever. Just have the guts to critique them honestly.”
    I’m astonished a professional journalist can be so naive, Eric.
    In fact, the minute the establishment knows the critic is in the house, the whole arrangement changes. It becomes fundamentally dishonest. The entire staff goes to extreme lengths to prepare a meal and an experience no ordinary bill-paying patron will ever receive, all the time pretending this is business as usual. The critic will get privileged treatment and extraordinary attention — and possibly an expensive meal for free — and w\ill pretend to write an honest review. Everybody except the reader — who will be paying full price for an ordinary meal and ordinary service — will be in on the charade.
    The anonymity rules are there for a reason I’m sure you would recognize in other journalistic contexts, Eric — integrity. The journalist must be seen by the reader to have received no special favors from the source, no gifts, no freebies.
    But your dumbest sentence, “Look, folks, no one cares about your internal ethics rules,” is one of the most bonehead statements I’ve ever read from a working journalist. It would earn you an ‘F’ in most journalism ethics class, or at the very least a stern lecture from the dean. Why don’t you trot it on down (or up, as the case may be) to Wick’s office and try it out, Eric.See how it plays.
    Unless you’re a journalist cadging free drinks, in which case shame on you, eating out is very expensive. Most of us consult the reviews, including those in your very own magazine, before we make that investment. We need to know those reviews are not bought and paid for either in cash or special treatment.
    As to Michael Martensen and Sal Jafar II, why would anyone trust her palate and taste buds to a couple of cooks who don’t want a critic near their kitchen without advance warning? What are they hiding? We’re not that desperate for good dining here in Dallas.

  • Bill Mavel

    Just so you know, Eric, my comment above is not in\tended as anonymous, but your system will not let me log on with Facebook,and when I log on as a guest, it insists on signing me on as Anonymous. I am not anonymous. My name is attached to my guest log on. Please attach it to my comment, if you wish.

  • jameswm

    is Ed Willey a Wylie H. Dallas (double) nom de blog?

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  • Jim Krause

    Kudos to the owners of Proof + Pantry and to John Tesar, who fired the first shot! It’s about time the whole community stood up to this pompous, pretentious excuse for a food critic. Let’s not squabble about the whole issue of the rights of the restaurateurs and the food critics. This is about a bigger issue – Leslie Brenner. A good food critic should objectively review restaurants to inform the tastes of the local community. Leslie Brenner is more interested in trying to convince readers of her superior tastes and highly sophisticated palate, all the while fawning over the new wave of avant garde chefs, most of whom will be forgotten within the next year or so. Frankly, this backlash against her boorish behavior is the culmination of the widespread frustration of the entire restaurant community and area consumers. Brenner frequently punishes restaurants for not taking chances or being more “creative”. Faddish food snobs aside, most of us want food that tastes good. I hope never again to dine in many of restaurants that Brenner heaps praise upon, where the dishes look like they were plated by a graphic designer on hallucinogens, and the menus contain unappealing combinations of weird but oh so trendy ingredients (anyone craving hay sabayon, matsutake, nocino jus, talgiardi, puffed sorghum and watermelon rinds?) Oh, by the way, the aforementioned are all ingredients on the very limited menu at just one restaurant – one which Brenner frequently lavishes praise upon and includes on most all of her “best” lists. It’s about time she got her own criticism. And it’s way past time for her to find greener pastures – where a far more pretentious audience can better appreciate her superiority and her uber-sophisticated palate. Maybe Beverly Hills? I bet the Kardashians would welcome her back home with open arms.

  • DemigodH

    Every time you write “Eric” I read it as very mean spirited. I wonder if that was intended. Even you, Anonymous, with all your journalistic integrity have to acknowledge that the days of anonymity for a food critic are numbered considering the advancements of social media and the internet. I agree there is/was a reason to promote anonymity but it’s just not feasible anymore. It’s time to come up with a new paradigm and stop clinging to a standard of ethics and propriety that will not and does not function in any practical sense.

    In my opinion, the professional food critic is simply not very valuable and will probably go away. Bloggers can accomplish the same thing (regarding photos, interviews, inside scoops etc.) and if I want an “anonymous” review I can read hundreds on Yelp or any other number of online sources. Times change, anonymity/privacy is dead, journalism is no longer limited to those who have specialized degrees – catch up.

    P.S. The fact that you twice couldn’t figure out how to attach your name to your post (not that I believe you truly wanted to or you would have just included it in the body of the second message) leads me to believe that technology is not your forte and so maybe everything I’ve said is genuinely new to you. So, if that is the case, I’d like to add that I’m writing my message in such an antagonistic way towards you, Anonymous, because I did not appreciate the tone of your response to Eric. I don’t know either of you, I just think you’re wrong and you’re being a jerk about it.

  • DMNSCantrell

    You must be an authority on classical music as well as food.

  • hotrod

    I wholeheartedly agree with the restaurant owner. I too would not want to be reviewed by a biased reporter who works for a far left biased paper. A apaer that with their usual arrogance states that they have a “right” to review anyone. Who bestowed that “right” on them? If they really want to investigate and report the truth on someone, let them start with Obama and his cabal.

  • Bill Marvel

    Demigod — “In my opinion, the professional food critic is simply not very valuable.” The alternative, demigod, is to accept the word of any Jack or Jill who eats and has an opinion on what he or she has eaten. If I am planning to go to the considerable expense of dining out, that’s not good enough for me, and it shouldn’t be good enough for you. I want to know where else Jack or Jill has eaten, how broad is their experience, what special training do they have. If, for example, they have sampled the food in the best restaurants in a dozen cities, have been doing this for years, and have a trained with the best chefs, or at least have some cooking courses or experience under their belt, I have some reason to trust their judgment.
    Folks are always proclaiming that we no longer need critics because we’re all wired into one another and we all have opinions and, besides, if I like a souffle, a concert, a painting, what difference does it make what some “expert” says. From that point of view, I guess, your kid’s drawing on the refrigerator or a church supper is as good as an exhibit at the Met or dinner at a five-star restaurant. Why would you want anyone else’s opinion, expert or not? But if you do want an opinion, why not get the opinion of someone who’s at least been around, eaten a more restaurants on more places, has given it a lot more thought, who in fact thinks about these things constantly? Even if we all just relied on internet scuttlebutt for our dining recommendations wouldn’t we come to trust certain people more than others because we found that the places they recommended were more likely to please us, that they gave coherent reasons for their opinions? We call such people restaurant critics.
    Finally, about this business of names. Mine is Bill Marvel. I never comment pseudonymously or anonymously — or I didn’t until Front Burner stopped accepting my Facebook log-in and persisted in logging me in as a “guest” anonymously. What’s your real name, demigod?
    As a journalist and sometime teacher of journalism I take exception, and then some, to Eric’s assertion that “no one cares about your internal ethics rules.” First, because it’s not true. Second, because this idea does grave damage to our profession at a time when journalistic ethics and integrity are under attack and our credibility is at its lowest. And, finally, because i cannot imagine that statement could be read as any kind of policy, official or otherwise, of the publications he works for.

  • kindallas

    This move was as clever as Viagra’s 4 hour hard-on (marketing ploy) warning.
    Cat calls and applause.

  • DemigodH

    Most of what you’re expecting from your critic can be accomplished through blogs and Yelp. On both, I can see where people have eaten in the past, what their tastes are like, and make my own opinion as to the level of expertise and qualification I believe them to have. I think the larger point though, which you did not address, is that maintaining anonymity is nearly impossible today for a food critic. If this were 10 years ago, even 5, I would agree with everything you wrote. But it’s not feasible anymore. So, what’s your solution? Cling to these professional critics who now are not distinguishable from a professional blogger (who also state their expertise and background and are sometimes more qualified: see blogs from authors such as David Rosengarten, Rick Bayless, or even former critics like Ruth Reichl).

    If you have a better solution I’d love to hear it. Otherwise, critics are no longer anonymous no matter how hard they try so maintaining that particular ethical standard is not realistic. I’d even go so far as to say it’s unethical to claim anonymity when we all know it’s likely to not be the case, even if the critic him or herself does not realize it.

    Lastly, I don’t think my name is relevant. I didn’t really care who you are and am not sure why you care about me. I’m more interested in the arguments you present. I mentioned that you did not know how to share your name as an example of why it might be that you’re slightly behind the eight-ball on technology. Now, that may not be the case and I fully admit I was trying to be a little insulting as I did not appreciate the tone of your first post.

    My bottom line: if you know of a way that critics can reliably remain anonymous (and more importantly know when they’ve been identified) then I agree with all the benefits of you mentioned. Otherwise, figure out a new model and let’s stop pretending that nobody knows what Leslie or Nancy looks like.

  • William Lion

    Sounds like somebody had too much wine with their free dinner.

  • Du-Oh

    I think you’ll notice he refers to himself as “an serious wine connoisseur”, which not only makes him a pretentious douche (or “an pretentious douche”) but someone who must have slept through English 101.
    Ed, here’s a little refresher for you….the use of a versus an is dependent on the sound of the word following….if it sounds like a consonant then it is “a”; if it sounds like a vowel (even with a silent consonant) then it is “an”. Hope that helps Ed.

  • puffball

    Who drinks wine with barbecue? People from California do with their Santa Maria style barbecue, which isn’t really barbecue but tri-tip steak grilled over red oak. A la The Hitching Post featured in the film “Sideways.” If that’s what Ms. Brenner was expecting at Pecan Lodge, it’s telling…about something. She’s lived here for four years, hasn’t she?