Leslie Brenner, the controversial food critic for the The Dallas Morning News, recently announced she’s leaving the gig after eight years to consult for restaurant/real estate incubator group Rebees. Brenner drew the ire of a few Dallas restaurateurs by, well, being honest about their food.
A few years ago, she garnered national attention after a well-publicized fit of pique penned by celbra-chef John Tesar, who banned the critic from his restaurants. One restaurateur even tried to comp Brenner’s dinner, thinking that would trigger some kind of ethical red flag and stop the review before Brenner ever took pen to paper. It didn’t work. She dropped a pile of cash on the table like a rap video star. A group of whiney chefs, restaurant owners, and stakeholders complained bitterly to the DMN about what they perceived to be Brenner’s stingy interpretation of the paper’s 1-5-star rating system. The group even held meetings about what to do.
Brenner was someone I’ve admired from across I-30 for years. Besides being a brilliant writer, she was a tough, fair critic who handled the restaurateur rebellion with aplomb. She stood her ground and in doing so reminded us other food critics to remember our backbones when we write reviews.
A critic’s job is to tell a story – paint a vivid picture of a restaurant and let you decide whether you’d like to visit. We’re not the CVB’s PR firm, and we’re not here to “support” a city, a neighborhood, or entitled chefs who have undeserved opinions of their own work.
Good luck, Ms. Brenner. You did us all proud.