Magazine story about a restaurateur’s attempt to comp critic

On Friday afternoon,

D Magazine’s Nancy Nichols wrote a post on the magazine’s SideDish blogrecounting events that transpired

OneArts1Thursday evening at Proof + Pantry and Friday morning at The Dallas Morning News. Nichols was not present at either event, she did not contact me nor anyone at the paper for comment, and what she wrote is filled with inaccuracies and mischaracterizations. DMN deputy managing editor Lisa Kresl, vice president and editorial page editor Keven Ann Willey and I together compiled a list of corrections, which I posted in a comment on SideDish this morning.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened. On Thursday evening I dined at Proof + Pantry, a new restaurant in One Arts Plaza, with my husband, Thierry Peremarti, Keven and Keven’s husband, Georges Badoux. As always, I had made the reservation using a pseudonym. As frequently happens, I was recognized. The newspaper’s policy regarding restaurant reviews stipulates that critics’ visits are made unannounced and that expenses are paid by The Dallas Morning News. You’ll find a complete explanation of our restaurant review policy and star rating system here. A link to it appears next to every online review, and it appears every week in the Guide section. As I have noted many times in the past in interviews and online chats, I am frequently recognized when I dine; still, I do my best to dine incognito. The most important part of that is visiting unannounced so that the restaurant cannot prepare for my arrival.

Another important requirement of the job is that I pay for meals my guests and I consume. The Dallas Morning News reimburses these dining expenses. For me to accept a comped meal would be a serious breach of journalistic ethics — whether I wind up reviewing the restaurant or not.

So we dined at Proof + Pantry. When the check landed on the table, each item on it was marked “food promo”; the receipt had a $0 grand total. I asked for a check with the full cost of our dinner — $446 — but owner Michael Martensen would not accept my credit card. Our insistence on paying the bill and trying to get them to accept our credit card went nowhere. In the end, we left $500 in cash on the table and departed. The entire episode was cordial. The next morning, Martensen and Proof + Pantry co-owner Sal Jafar II showed up unannounced at The Dallas Morning News with the stated intention of returning the $500. Keven Ann Willey greeted them downstairs, refused to accept the cash, and invited them upstairs for a conversation. They were joined by Lisa Kresl and acting managing editor Keith Campbell. After they talked, Keven escorted them downstairs. Martensen and Jafar left with the $500.

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