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Is LA Weekly Holding Try-Outs for a New Restaurant Critic Position?

Karen Palmer writes the first starred review since Besha Rodell’s departure

Tintorera, Silver Lake
Wonho Frank Lee
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Today, the LA Weekly files a starred review, the first since Besha Rodell announced her departure last month. LA Weekly food editor Katherine Spiers wrote a positively-tinted non-starred review of Rossoblu two weeks ago, but today the alt-weekly publication releases a one-star review of Tintorera in Silver Lake from guest critic Karen Palmer. Palmer, the former editorial director at Tasting Table, is not anonymous, with a full headshot of her face shown on her website and Twitter profile.

The bottom of Palmer’s Tintorera review includes a note about the new critic situation at the LA Weekly:

Following the September departure of restaurant critic Besha Rodell, L.A. Weekly will be publishing reviews in the coming weeks from a number of voices. Karen Palmer is the former editorial director of Tasting Table; you should read her recent piece for the publication: "In the age of the influencer, do restaurant critics still matter?"

Palmer recently penned a piece in early August for Tasting Table titled “Critical Condition: In the age of the influencer, do restaurant critics still matter?” so it comes as a pleasant surprise that Palmer is now handing in starred reviews for the Weekly. In that August piece, she quotes longtime New York Magazine critic Adam Platt about the whether old-line critics (like himself, or Besha Rodell) should continue their craft: “At the end of the day, there’s still a market for the measured, harrumphing, old-fashioned, written-on-the-page or cyberpage restaurant review.”

To this, Palmer agrees, and exhorts restaurant criticism further: “And my challenge to the critics would be: Keep harrumphing. Maybe even do more of it, so we can all reap the benefits on the plate.” Palmer’s harrumph at the Weekly started with a blistering one-star rating for Mexico City chef Maycoll Calderon’s foray into Los Angeles.

Eater reached out to the Weekly whether how long each critic will remain their tenure, who else they have in mind, and whether or not anonymity will be a condition for the gig. So far, Eater hasn’t heard back from either the Weekly or Palmer regarding the gig.

One wonders if this collection of reviews “from a number of voices” could answer a few questions for LA food aficionados: will a person of color write a starred review for the Weekly? (Recall Rodell’s piece earlier this year entitled, “Restaurant Critics Are Way Too White”) Is this a try-out for a permanent or semi-permanent restaurant critic position? And of course, what flavor or unique approach will this new critic bring to the Los Angeles dining scene? It’s exciting to watch and see what happens.