If there’s one thing that Dallas Morning News food critic Leslie Brenner knows exactly how to do, it’s ruffle feathers. After restaurateurs tried (and failed) to organize a scene-wide ban of the critic, though, the last several months have been largely free of controversy.
In a new op-ed yesterday, though, Brenner dropped quite the bombshell. In her eyes, the city’s restaurant scene has fallen into quite the lull. In fact, things have been so boring around here lately that they’ve left “a distinctive aftertaste of...meh” on her ever-so-refined palate.
Scope out this particularly scathing excerpt from her diatribe:
Five months ago, I thought the Big Thing was finally upon us. Filament, Wayward Sons, Top Knot, Montlake Cut and Vicini American-Italian Kitchen and Bar -- all exciting projects -- had recently opened, on the heels of Small Brewpub, Remedy and Rapscallion.
Ambitious new restaurants from Davaillon and Badovinus were expected in late 2016. I wrote optimistically about the city's nascent "brave new scene." The way I saw it, this would be phase 2 of the Dallas dining scene's rise to fabulousness.
Alas, the center did not hold. Chefs jumped ship, portside and starboard, or busied themselves replicating "concepts" or trying to build empires. Gastronomic ennui settled over the city like a dirty dish towel.
Gastronomic ennui, the horror!
To drive home her point, Brenner talked to restaurateurs across the city, and learned that industry types have a name for the folks that pack buzzy new establishments when they first open: The Fickle 500. These are the folks who are jumping from “the newest place to the newest place to the newest place,” without actually becoming regulars at any of them, according to Chef Tiffany Derry.
To be fair, this season has seemed a little slow in terms of exciting and innovative concepts. Considering the recent losses of progressive spots like Stephan Pyles’ San Salvaje and “permanent pop-up” Kitchen LTO, maybe it’s time to accept that Dallas may not ever be on the forefront of hot culinary trends.
Or maybe, a chef will come out of the woodwork in the coming months and prove Brenner’s thesis dead wrong. Time will tell.