Even people who never land on the New York Times website and who never read restaurant reviews have been talking this week about a scorching review of Guy Fieri’s new Times Square restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar.
The review by Pete Wells was styled as a series of questions directed straight at Fieri, a celebrity chef and host of the popular Food Network show, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Although Fieri owns nearly a dozen restaurants already, Wells was nowhere near impressed by the Times Square place. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read a more negative review. It earned zero stars and a “poor” rating.
A sampling of some of Wells’ zingers in the review:
* “What exactly about a small salad with four or five miniature croutons makes Guy’s Famous Big Bite Caesar (a) big (b) famous or (c) Guy’s, in any meaningful sense?”
* “Hey, did you try that blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste? The watermelon margarita? Any idea why it tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde?”
* “Somewhere within the yawning, three-level interior of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, is there a long refrigerated tunnel that servers have to pass through to make sure that the French fries, already limp and oil-sogged, are also served cold?”
* “When you cruise around the country for your show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” rasping out slangy odes to the unfancy places where Americans like to get down and greasy, do you really mean it?”
I posted a link to the review on my Facebook page and received a couple of comments. Lori defended Wells, saying: “The point is that if he is putting his name on something that high-profile (the restaurant is in Times Square), shouldn’t he be serving a quality product?”
Others have said the review reads like a personal attack on Fieri. They suspect Wells already had an agenda against Fieri and took this opportunity to really skewer him. Wrote Jeff on my Facebook wall: “Is the place overhyped and too expensive? Sure. But you’d be hard pressed to find a place in New York City that isn’t. And I wouldn’t expect the NYT to like anything Fieri does, simply as a matter of principle.”
On The Today Show this morning, Fieri responded to the criticism: “I thought it was ridiculous. I mean, I’ve read reviews —- there’s good and there’s bad in the restaurant business, but that to me went so overboard, it really seemed like there was another agenda.”
He went on to say that he didn’t think it was fair for the reviewer to visit the restaurant four times within the first two months of its existence. I must say, we usually do not send reviewers to restaurants until they have been open for a couple of months, at least. It is always going to take some time to work out the kinks.
While I am a big fan of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” I am personally a little tired of Fieri as host of the show. I just think it’s time for a new approach and it is time for him to move on to something else. But I have never been to any of his restaurants so I can’t speak to their quality.
Do you think Wells was too harsh in this review?