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At Long Last, Brutal Honesty! July 9, 2008

Posted by Jim Berkin in Books, Food.
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The Los Angeles Times has been in free-fall for the past couple of years or so, with circulation and ad dollars plummeting. Every few weeks, it seems, more of the paper’s long-time writers have taken buy-outs, other jobs, or have been simply let go.

In such an atmosphere, I guess I can’t be too surprised by a scathing restaurant review like this one of Gladstone’s Malibu by Leslie Brenner. Maybe with the sword of Sam Zell hanging over her head [UPDATE: I read today, July 28, that Brenner has indeed been let go by the Times], Brenner felt no fear in trashing one of LA’s more popular institutions, co-owned by Richard Riordan, former mayor and basically good-guy civic booster & institution-saver. Riordan also co-owns The Pantry, one of the city’s older restraurants (which is also over-rated and over-priced, but I thought the steak I had there was just fine… hmmm….) and he was the main force behind rebuilding the burnt-down-in-1986 central library, something for which the entire region should be eternally grateful (despite his bad & overpriced sea food, evidently).

Usually the material in the Times ranges from the predictable-mainstream-boring to boring-mainstream-predictable. One (of the many) reasons I cancelled my subscription was when I realized that there was nothing, NO specific news or commentary at all, that I was getting from the Times that I could not get from anywhere else. And even if there was once in a while (like the enjoyably nasty piece by Brenner I linked to, NEVER MIND THAT SHE NEVER EVEN SENT ME SO MUCH AS EVEN A THANK-YOU EMAIL FOR THE FREE BOOK I SENT HER) they put all their content on the web for free. Why pay?

And if you’re either going to get Sam Zell’s cost-saving axe OR impress him enough to keep your job by writing honestly & going against the usual okey-doke, either way freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

I’m tempted to send Brenner a list of other restaurants I’ve found to be over-hyped and over-rated in this city for more pieces like this, but I’M SURE SHE WON’T ANSWER OR ACKNOWLEDGE THAT EITHER.

My own experiences at Gladstone’s (though I haven’t been there in many years) weren’t quite as bad as what she describes in the review, except for the damage it did to my wallet. Sounds like the food has gone from “adequate but overpriced” (the most common form of hoity-toity restaurant food in LA) to “crappy and overpriced.” Obviously, in a city as ethnically diverse as Los Angeles, the best food is to be found in small hole-in-the-wall mom ‘n’ pop ethnic dives of various nationalities, spread all over the “down market” neighborhoods that abound. Former Times food writer Jonathan Gold, now of the LA Weekly, frequents such establishments regularly, and compiled his positive reviews into an indispensable guide for those of us always on the lookout for something affordably exotic & delicious And I’m talking about food. Maybe I’ll write my OWN book on strippers. AND THEN I’LL SEND IT TO LESLIE BRENNER AND NOT GET ANY SORT OF RESPONSE AND…

Aah, forget it. The Good Lord punished her with an awful $500 seafood dinner. BWAHAHAHAHAAAA!

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