It's likely you've already heard about the Grey Lady's utterly brutal review of Guy Fieri's latest concept restaurant, Guy's American Kitchen and Bar, planted deep in the beating heart of Time Square. Pete Wells' review delivers a burn so hard it could put astronauts into orbit around Mars. Out of a possible 4 stars, Wells rated Fieri's effort with no stars and an additional notation of "poor."
Well, Fieri couldn't let the New York Times flame broil his latest creation on the national stage, so he red-eyed it out to New York in time for Thursday's Today show. He and his signature hair tried their best to explain away the four consecutive horrible experiences endured by the New York Times reviewer. An experience so scarring that it reduced Wells' review to a series of accusatory questions directed at Fieri: "Did panic grip your soul as you stared into the whirling hypno wheel of the menu, where adjectives and nouns spin in a crazy vortex? "
His defense is rather weak. The fact that Fieri leads off the interview with a dismissal against Wells, that he had an "agenda," seems to suggest that some vast conspiracy exists against Fieri. Or it suggests that Wells is a snooty New Yorker who simply doesn't appreciate down home, real American food straight out of "Flavor Town."
But as Fieri takes pains to point out in the interview, he's been in the restaurant business for 25 years. Theoretically, this isn't his first rodeo and he should know a few things about getting a restaurant off the ground after opening seven other ones. Granted, this restaurant is gargantuan even by his standards, it's a 500 seat, three story complex that Anthony Bourdain once referred to as a "terror-dome."
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The complaints lodged by Wells aren't that this restaurant isn't high minded enough, but rather that it fundamentally fails to deliver on even a fraction of the magic you would expect from the host of Diners Drive-in and Dives. As Wells relates in an interview with Poynter, his problem with Fieri's restaurant isn't the kind of food it serves but rather the quality.
Or more particularly, the quality at the asked price point. A quick perusal of the restaurants menu shows that you're not getting any of these dishes at diner, drive-in or dive prices. The nachos that Wells found so lacking will set you back $12. A plate of $18 pulled pork "slyders" will definitely not go unnoticed when the bill comes by.
It would also seem as though Wells is not alone in his harsh assessment of Fieri's restaurant. Its Yelp rating hovers at two and a half stars with scores of harsh 1-2 star reviews predating the New York Times article.