Photo courtesy Flickr creative commons user Michael Scott.

Washington Post Story on Leslie Brenner is Out

The story is out today. Have you read it? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tim Carman from the Washington Post was in town recently, reporting on the contretemps between Dallas Morning News dining critic Leslie Brenner and various members of the Dallas restaurant community. Carman spent a couple of hours with Brenner, a couple of hours with Shannon Wynne, a couple of hours with the guys from Proof + Pantry, a couple of hours with John Tesar, a couple of hours in various other places — his expense report is probably pretty stout.

As it happens, I was working on a story on the same subject at the same time, so I kept hearing, “I was telling the Washington Post guy the other night…” My story comes out in our January issue. Carman’s is right here. Read it and let us know what you think.

Carman plays it mostly down the middle, though I would suggest, at least structurally, it ends up at least slightly on Brenner’s side. Mine? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see.



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  • beda

    When you read this guy’s review, this is the first comment that comes up, and it says it all, so far as I am concerned: (It’s the only comment I’ve had a chance to read, so don’t know which way the other commenters fall)

    Ron McCallister
    Dallas chefs have every right to ignore or dispute Leslie Brenner’s criticism of their food. However, I’d like to share a reflection of how one Dallas chef, Matt McCallister, reacted to Ms Brenner’s scathing criticism of his culinary skills shortly after Matt took over as executive chef at Stephan Pyles about seven years ago. Knowing her criticism deeply pained Matt, as his father I advised him to simply ignore her comments, saying “That’s only her opinion.” Matt’s response surprised (and impressed) me. He said that top tier food critics have palates that are every bit as good as top chefs, and that if a truly talented critic like Leslie Brenner found fault with any aspect of his output, then he needed to listen carefully and use that input to become a better chef. I was mildly shocked to hear Matt say something that mature; anyone familiar with Matt’s injudicious lambasting of a Yelp critic would be even more shocked. Apparently heeding qualified criticism works: Matt was selected as one of Food & Wine magazine’s top ten new chefs last year. Criticism can always be used as a tool to improve.

  • Bad Poet

    I think for many the insult by Brenner came 6 months after she arrived when she published her Dallas bromography on the lack of “World Class” dining in Dallas, yet in her jag-left-zig-right method of analysis (a consistent pattern in all her writing) she never establishes what it is.

    Somehow we were expected to believe that we were missing a uniqueness because we didn’t have the same restaurants as other cities. Yeah, that kind on logic can drive you to stop reading. Follow that up with other truly stupid things to blog about, her diet, her generalization of “bubble food”, her diet, an ability to pre-judge a restaurant based on its online menu, her diet, home cooking of ugly looking kale salads, a ban on spring mix salads (at a time of record obesity in our population), and her endless attempts to put down the closest thing we have to a native cuisine – Tex Mex. Yet now, because of her influence (wink, wink, she also controls the most influential voice in Dallas) we NOW have World Class restaurants and chefs. So now she can take off the anonymity, which was kind of like the emporer’s clothes or something anyhow, because everyone knew what she really looked like.

    Mostly now I hate that she uses first-person references in her writing about places and people long gone, as if she knew them personally, without crediting whomever provided the flavor of the time, place, or person in her recounting. Blah. Bad flavor there.

    It will drive you to write poetry. From the archives.


    “No more poems for Leslie”, words now I regret,
    I just can’t stop when one sets up such a target.
    LesBren’s latest argument against Tex-Mex dishes,
    A sock in the nose for those thinking “delicious”.

    It kept me awake, as I remembered old geometry
    And rules regarding logical properties of equality.
    “Maybe she’s no mathlete,” I think as I decide
    To walk through the equation of her culinary suicide.

    Let’s start with the premise that a equals b,
    As in, “Skip the Tex-Mex, it’s just not Big D
    Cuisine worth eating” (her statement loosely),
    Never mind that it’s eaten, citywide, profusely.

    So on to the next link, where b equals c,
    The local Tex-Mex places you can’t help but see.
    Successful? Many popular for decades or more
    The fact that we love them doesn’t add to her score.

    Which leads to the final link, just so insulting:
    Then a equals c, do you see where I’m heading?
    If our TexMex doth suck, but we love it’s taste
    You’re saying we’re ignorant, a punch to the face.

    Never mind that millions have loved this food,
    And most of us, really, consider it good.
    Not up to standards, her measurement, what?
    Some other city’s food? The woman’s a nut!

    So let’s move on to some Diophantine analysis
    Of writer, whose criticisms invite diner paralysis.
    It’s obvious to me, and perhaps to you too,
    She’d rather be elsewhere, it’s in every review.

    It’s sad that a person with DMN’s large platform
    Has a palate that rates most places “lukewarm”.
    But most of us wonder if her power is waning?
    Few read her reviews, they’re just not entertaining.