It didn’t take long for Pete Wells’ scathing review of Guy Fieri’s new Times Square tourist trap, Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, to spread like wildfire around the internet. The review, which masquerades as an open letter to the frosted-tipped Food Network star, is chock-full of passages containing perplexing reactions and outright insults, such as:
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?
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?
Wells deserves applause for his honesty and hilarity, but his review doesn’t hold a candle to the most brutal commentary on Fieri’s restaurant. That honor belongs to the New York Observer‘s Joshua David Stein, who addressed the slimy facade of the Fieri empire — using overpriced comfort food in Midtown Manhattan as a springboard:
Mr. Fieri not only serves truly horrible-tasting food, an awkward origami of clashing aleatory flavors, but he serves this punishing food emulsified with a bombastic recasting of deep-fried American myth. Mr. Fieri’s most egregious transgression isn’t what he puts into his fellow citizens’ stomachs, it’s how the cynical slop interfaces with what he puts into their minds.
From there, Stein’s review falls in line with Wells’, firing off of a list of insufferable entrees. However, it quickly evolves to address the greater crime:
Mr. Fieri has built his career valorizing deeply unhealthy eating habits, rhapsodizing about all that is fried, caloric and meaty in his cookbooks and on his Food Network shows, which now include not only Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, but Guy’s Big Bite and Guy Off the Hook. And though, statistically, many more people will be exposed to his television shows than his restaurant, there seems to be a fundamental moral difference between advocating for an unhealthy lifestyle and actually providing it. This, of course, is the point at which freedom of expression turns into a sin of commission.
The whole piece is worth reading, even if the overall message will ultimately fall on deaf ears of the average tourist. But there is one thing we all seem to agree on: this restaurant sucks. Well, unless you’re these people.