The New York Times slammed celebrity chef and Food Network star Guy Fieri's new restaurant today, running a scathing review that left food purists grinning and Fieri's fans furious.
"Your review sucks on Guy Fieri," tweeted Mike Donaghy. "You talk about food like it's a book."
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"The NYT's review of Guy Fieri's American Kitchen exemplifies the 'elite liberal media' voice that much of the US hates," Drew Breunig pointed out, also on Twitter.
Peter Wells' public take-down of the 500-seat Guy's American Kitchen & Bar was written as a series of unanswerable questions:
"When you saw the burger described as 'Guy's Pat LaFrieda custom blend, all-natural Creekstone Farm Black Angus beef patty, LTOP (lettuce, tomato, onion + pickle), SMC (super-melty-cheese) and a slathering of Donkey Sauce on garlic-buttered brioche,' did your mind touch the void for a minute?"
"Did you notice that the menu was an unreliable predictor of what actually came to the table? Were the "bourbon butter crunch chips" missing from your Almond Joy cocktail, too?
Were you struck by how very far from awesome the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders are?
Why is one of the few things on your menu that can be eaten without fear or regret - a lunch-only sandwich of chopped soy-glazed pork with coleslaw and cucumbers - called a Roasted Pork Bahn Mi, when it resembles that item about as much as you resemble Emily Dickinson?
How did Louisiana's blackened, Cajun-spiced treatment turn into the ghostly nubs of unblackened, unspiced white meat in your Cajun Chicken Alfredo?
Is this how you roll in Flavor Town?
Wells ended by giving the restaurant no stars and an overall rating of "poor." He describes the atmosphere as "one chaotic mess" and quips, "The well-meaning staff seems to realize that this is not a real restaurant."
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Fieri, who also owns five Johnny Garlic's restaurants and two Tex Wasabi's outposts in California, as well as a series of Guy's Burger Joints aboard Carnival Cruise ships, did not respond to request for comment from Yahoo! and was silent on social media yesterday.
There's no doubt that Fieri's intentions are good -- he kept Guy's American open as Superstorm Sandy approached, and donated half of all proceeds on Monday and Tuesday to Red Cross relief efforts -- and some of his Food Network colleagues are offering their support.
"I am planning on visiting Guy Fieri's NYC eatery this weekend because it can't be as bad as all those snoty New Yorkers say," tweeted "Good Eats" and "Iron Chef America" host Alton Brown.
Wells isn't the first New York food critic to give Guy's American a thumbs down. The restaurants has a slew of negative reviews on Yelp.com, and fellow foodie Anthony Bourdain said in September that Fieri is pulling a fast one on his fans. "All of these poor bastards see him eating cheap food on TV, they go in there and it's what, $18? For a … hamburger?," Bourdain said on SiriusXM radio. "The French fries are like $12?"
In October, The New York Post's Steve Cuozzo wrote, "You expect it to be awful, of course-how could things like "Unyawns cajun chicken ciabatta with donkey sauce" not be awful?" He described the Awesome Pretzel Chicken tenders as "tasting not of chicken, pretzel, or any recognizable digestible matter," noted that the "creamy parmesan sauce could moonlight as engine lubricant," and lamented "One day soon, I'll go back to reviewing real restaurants with real chefs."
In October, after several other bad reviews, Fieri fired back at critics. "I know what I make, I know how I cook," he told Norah O'Donnell on CBS's "Morning Show." "I know the success of my food. I mean, you can't have eight restaurants and be doing it wrong -- or that wrong."
His target audience -- out-of-town fans of Fieri's Food Network show, "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives," who are excited simply to be in the Big Apple -- agree. They think Guy's American is a hit, calling the food "amazing" and raving about the atmosphere.
"We were so excited because we love watching him on TV and we also love great food," Debra Popp of upstate New York wrote on the restaurant's Facebook page in October. "Anyway we got to Guy's restaurant in TIMES SQUARE!!!! And we were led to a table in an upper room. The decor was exciting to look at Rock N Roll memorabilia all over the walls!!… The food was delicious. The service was perfect. We had a waitress take our order and she served our drinks and gave us linen napkins with our utensils and extra paper napkins as well. When our entrees were served a young man wearing this neat looking black cap set them down in front of us. I thought this was great as the plates were heavily ladened with a generous serving of food. We ate everything and the food tasted just as we hoped it would. Very satisfying and very much like we would cook ourselves."
She may be on to something. Just as Marilyn Hagerty made clear in her sincere review of the Olive Garden -- "the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks" -- not everyone is looking for a haute cuisine experience.
"I'm loving the throw-back to Old-Americana," wrote on recent guest. "I'm guessing this restaurant is on its way to being the biggest tourist trap NYC has seen since, well, yesterday. But hey -- it's neato looking."