I didn’t get a chance to post about this devastating review of Guy Fieri’s Times Square restaurant, but Guy has responded, defensively, to the review, claiming that the reviewer has “an agenda”. Well, if “an agenda” is code for “a desire to eat edible food”, that’s probably true. If you haven’t read the review, it’s worth a few minutes of your time, because it sounds like Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar puts out much worse food than the average local Applebees.
As someone who watches a fair amount of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, I’m not surprised that Fieri’s new restaurant sucks. That show has an excellent production team, because they find a lot of interesting, local restaurants despite Fieri’s obvious narrow taste in food and desire to wring every penny of profit from his operations. A good part of every episode consists of Fieri marveling that someone would actually work that hard, use that many good ingredients, and charge so little for the signature dishes that each restaurant serves. Somebody who’s regularly astonished by what it takes to make good food isn’t going to run great restaurants. His other places, called Johnny Garlic’s and Tex Wasabi’s, sound more like “concepts” to be marketed rather than places where you’re going to get a good meal.
It has to be exhausting to be air-dropped into a bunch of towns with your red Camaro so you can blather and shove food in your gaping, ignorant pie hole once the producers have done all the prep work. I think that a show devoted to local food created by independent, quality restaurants is worth watching without a bleach-blonde bro mouth farting over the top of the hard working chefs at these places. So maybe Food Network will give Guy a break so he can go fix what’s wrong at his New York food factory, and let someone who actually loves local food take over for a few months. That would be a real trip to flavor town.
Some of the comments at nbc.com are interesting. Since NYC is full of elitists, they don’t understand the food regular folk like. Also, too the NYTimes loves Obama so it’s his fault.
My son is a foodie so I sent him the article yesterday. I thought it was humorous, brutal but humorous.
A bad review in NYC and you may as well pack it in.
Mr. F is to food what The Bachelor is to romance. An freak show disguised as reality designed to appear to a certain crowd for the purpose of selling them shit.
Anyone who has seen 15 minutes of his work or had the misfortune of eating some of the sludge he has oral organisms over would have a pretty good idea of what to expect from his kitchen.
But then again if you are gullible enough to eat on Time Square you probably enjoy being gouged badly for crappy, campy, crap.
That is a great review! It really caught on fire in the Twittersphere not long after it came out.
i read that the other day, and it was epic.
Switch to Cooking Channel. Same show concepts, fewer “celebrity chef” hosts.
Fieri’s obvious narrow taste in food and desire to wring every penny of profit from his operations.
When you’re fixated on the business of serving food, your focus is going to be on the business, not the food.
There’s nothing wrong with this, exactly. I respect people who are good at running their businesses rather than fancying themselves as “gentlemen restaurateurs”, but you have to accept that you business is the intersection of retail and commercial real estate, not dining.
I guess the NY Post has an agenda as well– their review was just as scathing, though not as well-written as Wells’s (not to my mind, anyway).
Agenda by the NYT? He is going to need to expand that to conspiracy. The Observer panned it too.
@JustMe: I agree, but Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is about the opposite kind of restaurant owner, generally a hard-working person or couple who still go to their restaurant and cook. Guy’s like an alien presence in those places.
I don’t understand the hate for that guy’s show. I like watching Diners…
So his restaurant sucks. Who cares? I still like his show.
@mistermix: That is why i like the show…it is about real people who love what they are doing. He is ancillary to the show.
IMHO the best thing about the Guy Fieri brouhaha is that it brings DadBoner on Twitter to a wider audience, you guys. I’m assuming everyone here follows him, right?
His bit on the his “Roadhouse” screenplay “pain never hurts” with Guy is absolutely hysterical.
Supposedly his restaurants in California are pretty decent. (Caveat: never eaten at any of them.) Having watched his show a couple of times though, I find him pretty much unwatchable and his food uninspiring. But, you know, people watch his Camaro show, so he’s not exactly suffering.
Note: I’m talking about his cooking show. Can’t watch DDD because he makes it all about him as opposed to the local joints he’s supposed to be highlighting.
Is this class warfare?
@mistermix: I like watching DDD in small doses but an amazing amount of it comes down to Guy marveling “You do all this, from scratch, YOURSELF?!” Must be years since he’s worked the line.
Gin & Tonic
Times Square is only about shaking every possible shekel out of the pocket of ignorant tourists from Dubuque. A New Yorker would eat dogshit off the street before going into any of the “restaurants” there.
Apparently Mr. Fieri is something of a bigot and likes to make snide behind the scenes comments if he thinks the owner is “furrin” or gay. I quit watching when I read that.
Gin & Tonic
I don’t believe he ever has.
@joeyess: Not necessarily. You can make decade’s worth of money in NYC on the tourist trade, and his restaurant is perfectly in the sweet spot for that. As a foodie, I wouldn’t eat there, but if I were an investor in that business, I wouldn’t be terribly concerned about that review. In fact, in my imaginary investor role, I’d fire up the PR engine and get a mock war about elitism started in order to pull in the yokels. There’s certainly a chance those NYC comments are part of a fake grass roots response, paid for by his investors.
God, I remember how bad Mamma Leone’s was, and it was jam packed with tourists. (And now that I remember it, it was with friends visiting from Texas, who insisted.) Chef Boyardee Italian food, in a city with some of the most astonishing chefs on the planet.
I don’t know if you need to serve good food to be successful in Times Square. There are hundreds of great Italian restaurants in NYC, but what do you find at Times Square? A huge Olive Garden. Tourists eat there, because it’s where they feel comfortable.
Love the show, but his 15 minutes is up after that. Hope he didn’t blow his wad all on hookers and blow.
That review was hilarious!
@Butch: Jesus, really? How did they let that get on the air?
I am impatient with the pace of change in the country. Smarten up, people.
The Ancient Randonneur
Jane and Michael Stern from Roadfood.com would be great for a 30 minute show. They make frequent appearances on The Splendid Table but they deserve a show on television. I would have never jeard of Rhoda’s Famous Tamales had it not been for them! The other places along the Tamale Trail are also pretty good but nothing beats a trip to Lake Village, Arkansas to see Miss Rhoda.
Tamales, fried catfish sandwich, pumpkin pie … man, I feel a road trip coming on!
Food Network sucks, there was a time when it used to be better. When Paula Deen’s accent was not as thick and the shows were about cooking rather than entertainment.
Hilarious review. I like Fieri’s complaint that Wells only visited the restaurant four times before writing it.
Every once in awhile you can tell that he doesn’t actually like the food at a place in DD&D, like a place in (unsurprisingly) Indiana that put peanut butter on their hamburgers.
I like the fact that he fawns over the working class owners who come in and work all day in the kitchen. I think its probably pretty nice for them to get that much praise on national TV. It speaks well of Guy as a human being, and probably doesn’t tell us that much about his ability to run a restaurant.
The New York Times interview, however, does tell us that, and so much more, in the funniest food review I have ever read. It’s up there with Chris Orr’s review of The Happening for funniest review of any kind, ever.
A name to follow for food lovers: Justin Warner
I read that review yesterday, loved it. I love the way Bourdain rips up Fieri too.
I used to love the Food Network but as others have said, they seem to be all about celebrity chefs instead of good cooking. And really, how many lines of pots and pans do we need? Emeril was one thing, but the rest are a poor substitute.
This is no different from any Hard Rock Cafe or Planet Hollywood across the country. They create a tourist trap based on a concept and then overcharge for the low-grade dog food that they serve. No wonder it is on Times Square. They can usually make a lot of money, at least at first.
Probably the Hard Rock Cafe people paid Guy a lot of money to put his name of the restuarant. Little did he know his reputation was going to be destroyed forever.
Our local diner was featured in Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. It’s a pretty good diner, the service staff and the cooks are wonderful people, and we’re really happy that they got chosen for the show. The show brought in a bunch of new people to try the place, and the place is doing pretty well.
But the mysterious thing (to me) is that they chose to highlight two dishes on the show that I think are really mediocre or at best, niche favorites. The stuffed grape leaves and the sour beef and dumplings. The grape leaves are good but I’ve had better. The sour beef and dumplings is one of those things that you either love or hate, I guess. Personally I find it rather gagtastic.
But the diner does lovely variations on pasta, has some great breakfasts, a very generous seafood platter, a great dessert selection. The show ignored that in favor of two dishes that I can only say ‘meh’ about.
I hope that people who come to our local diner try something outside the Fieri-approved two dishes, because the diner is so much more than that. It makes me wonder about other restaurants I’ve seen on the show.
@RSA: When I read that review, I thought, damn, he ate every damn things on the menu. Well, tried every damn thing on the menu.
Maybe Guy’s American Kitchen should add a salad bar.
Actually, the places he’s been to for DD&D here in Pittsburgh are mostly legendary small local places with really great food. Little of it is healthy or what you want for every meal, but I’ve been to a lot of the places here he’s highlighted on the show and the food is great at every one.
Of course, if you don’t like diner food, comfort food, or burgers, you probably wouldn’t like them. But although I think of myself as a foodie, I like to indulge in this sort of food semi-regularly.
There’s a decent, but not particularly amazing Texas BBQ place near me. After it was on DDD, it went from never having more than 2-3 patrons there at any given time, to having 200 people waiting in a 2 hour line, all the time.
It was a lot of patrons, and good business I suppose, although I know it nearly overworked the owners to death. They couldn’t keep up with the demand. I also think the two hour lines likely drove away most of the regulars. Whenever I see the line, I fear that the person who just waited two hours is going to be disappointed, because, seriously, no BBQ is really worth 2 hours in line. I wonder what that does to the word-of-mouth reviews of the place? I fear it’s changed from “pretty good!” to “not worth the insane wait.” I hope that’s not the case.
I have a mixture of emotions for that restaurant. I’m sure it helped, but almost too much so. Mainly, it was just really weird seeing how much could change from one small segment on one show. I think the hype has died down a bit by now, which means I may actually eat there again after not eating there ever since the show made going there insane.
He’s been to New Mexico at least twice (where I lived for 3 years), and both times he went to great places and got classics that the locals (myself included) love. I have to give him props for that. His show on the whole isn’t bad.
Culture of Truth
I saw the show once and thought he was from NSync. He’s a cook?
What exactly qualifies this Guy guy to have his own show about food?
O.K. Rachel Ray is a like younger version of Martha Stewart, without the desire to branch into all kinds of home decorating activities, but she at least cooked stuff on her 30 Minute meals show and has a certain level of charisma, when she did her $40 or less to eat out in a day show (forget the name).
Guys like Gordon Ramsey are actual chefs, who know how to run restaurants and I can see them being qualified to yell at people, who can’t manage a restaurant.
I don’t get what this Guy guy has done to deserve whatever “street cred” he has as a food expert.
I didn’t really understand why that review appeared. They don’t usually devote main-page reviews to places like that. It seemed a little strange, like shooting fish in a barrel. There are a lot of very good restaurants in New York that they totally ignore because they aren’t cutting-edge. So why review a place like that?
Higgs Boson's Mate
Donkey Sauce? My sailor-type mind is a-whirl with scintillating nodes of “You’re not really going to put that in your mouth?”
Just because someone is a popular show host doesn’t mean they can actually do what their show is about. How many times we gotta learn this lesson?
Case in point, the few times I’ve seen the Iron Chef judges actually on the cooking side, they have never done well. But I do like D,D & D. Eh, too many great small places to eat in Manhattan and honestly Times Square is where I buy discount show tickets, not spend actual time.
My favorite part of Fieri’s interview is when the interviewer asks him about the Yelp rating; people give it an average of 2 1/2 stars. Fieri’s response is that they’re not even expecting the restaurant to be good yet. He says it has only been open for two months, and gosh, it’s such a big place; maybe at 6 months it will be good.
What an enormous douchebag. If you don’t think the restaurant will be any good, don’t fucking open it.
If you’re actually wondering whether the reviewer had an agenda, the Yelp reviews are definitely worth a read:
And not all celebrity chefs are bad. I’ve been to several of both Mario Batali’s and Michael Symon’s restaurants. I get into Batali’s places because my high school boyfriend does all the photography for his cookbooks and Symon’s because they’re in Cleveland, which is a short drive from here (only 2 hours) and I had tried Lola long before I ever saw him on tv. I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten anything as delicious anywhere as the stuff I’ve eaten at each of their eateries. Symon’s burger place is the best burger I’ve ever had in my life. Ever.
@call_me_ishmael: Definitely. A comparison of Karl Welzein’s menu ideas for the Times Square place with the descriptions the review quotes from the real menu is a lesson in finely ground satire. Pretty cool?
my favorite bit is when Bourdain said that fieri is what happens ‘if ed hardy fucked a juggalo’.
@The Ancient Randonneur:
I have not heard of these guys, I’ll have to look them up.
Stopped listening to The Pretentious Table a few years back as it got to be all about the host, how wonderful she is, how superior her taste is.
@Gin & Tonic:
Mostly true, unless you’re meeting friends or relatives (especially older ones) from the burbs who don’t want to park far from the theater and don’t want to walk out of the neighborhood to eat. I’ve always liked Carmine’s in those cases.
ETA-Also too, relatives or friends with young children usually need to eat close to the theater. We always used to take my niece, to the Elaine’s Starlite (Stardust?) Diner. Singig wait staff, very kid friendly. Overpriced, but they have good cocktails, which is necessary given the noise.
Well, I’m pretty sure he did some training in France. And he won the second season title of “Next Food Network Star.” You get a cooking show on the channel as the prize. You have to give him credit. He took that opening, came up with another concept and ran with it, to the point that DD&D was the highest rated FN show for several years.
@gene108: $40 a Day. Funny how you had the title right there in your response. :)
@geg6: I’m a foodie with an irrational love for KFC. Diner food is meant to be two things: delicious and comforting. I absolutely love unpretentious eats, because their purpose is to nourish, not necessarily to impress. Denny’s, however, makes me gag.
The trouble-maker in me wants GF to bring his show to some restaurant and say “They do things the old-fashioned way: Envelopes of unmarked twenties slipped to the health inspector.”
@Higgs Boson’s Mate: Ditto!
That’s hilarious. I think Fieri is kind of gross looking and I don’t think I’d like to eat anything he made. I’ve been to one of Tom Colicchio’s restaurants for brunch (Riverpark), and it was excellent.
The line in the review that cracked me up the most: “The well-meaning staff seems to realize that this is not a real restaurant.”
I iz in moderation for editing my comment. HALP!
@schrodinger’s cat: Unfortunately, that time was now over a decade ago. It’s very hard to find a show on which decent chefs actually, you know, cook shit anymore. I don’t have a problem with him, per se, but Emeril Lagasse killed television cooking shows. The Food Network’s been trying to replicate that sensation for years now, while simultaneously trying to water down Anthony Bourdain for the real ‘murkans crowd. Consequently, it’s became just a food entertainment network. The only actual cooking that’s left (other than Alton Brown) is basically Home Ec classes (Paula Deen, Rachel Ray, Sandra Lee and their ilk).
If you can find it and want a great piece of foodie locavore nirvana combined with actual cooking, check out New Scandinavian Cooking. I happened upon it 3 or 4 years ago, before Denmark became the epicenter of the food universe, and fell in love with the show. Season Five, featuring Claus Meyer (who started Noma with Rene Redzepi)is pretty awesome, and the regular host, Andreas Viestad, is utterly without ego or pretense, perhaps because he’s wasn’t a celebrity chef before doing this as a vanity and moneymaking project. Refreshing.
thanks for the heads up, I just looked at their website. I was wondering why Ingrid Hoffman disappeared off the Food Channel, I like her, now she’s on this one…
@ThresherK: When I was in college a friend who was from the nearby “big city” took me to a local dive burger place. They posted their “D” rating from the city health inspector in a prominent spot, right next to the counter where you ordered. It was one of the selling points for the place. At some point they got upgraded to “C” and people were very disappointed.
If I’m going for unpretentious food, I always avoid a chain. I want some local hole in the wall where the locals go. I’m lucky in that I have one less than a tenth of a mile from our house. Best gyros, grape leaves, and lamb kabobs you’ll find anywhere. Their breakfasts are to die for, too. Mmmmmmm, now I want gyro!
@Yutsano: I like non-pretentious food too. For me it is street food, rather than diner food. Of course nothing beats the food that comes from mom’s kitchen.
@Yutsano: How can you not like Hobbit themed menus?
I love Bourdain, especially since he’s gotten more mouthy the past few years.
@geg6: I love gyros too. There was this Turkish restaurant I used to go, which made their own Lavash bread, they had the best gyros and other types grilled meats.
It’s doing a public service to warn people away from restaurants that serve food as wretched as Pete Wells says it is. It’s also fun, once in a while, to shoot fish in a barrel. And my God, that review was fun to read.
@Cassidy: Did you see his new show on PBS, I missed it last week. I like Bourdain’s show when he is out of the US. In the US, his shows have a lot of filler material, like the time he was hanging out with Ted Nugent.
I do too! I vicariously enjoy his obvious joy eating the specialty food at the niche restaurants he visits, even when the dish in question is something is something that would not be enjoyably palatable to my own ideosyncratic tastes at all (for example, I cannot stand onions, except when cooked beyond recognizable taste in long-simmered sauces etc., but that’s just me). But I can enjoy watching him enjoy a dish loaded with under-cooked onions, and imagine what they’d deliciously taste like to someone who likes their flavor, and even imagine the fun I’d have if I was him.
I will, however take note of the advice that his own restaurants may disappoint many expecting the sort of quality food adventure regularly appearing on his shows,
Maybe someone knew they were getting a pink slip and siad “fuck it”.
That’s nothing. In my undergrad days at Pitt (and continuing to this day), there was a place called the Original Hot Dog Shop, which was/is legendary for it’s sandwiches and, especially, it’s French fries. Whenever it’s featured on some show (and it often is), they call it the O. But what everyone really calls it is the Dirty O. For very good reason. And that’s before you even have checked out the bathrooms.
But the food is fantastic and the fries are to die for.
@geg6: @schrodinger’s cat: There’s a place up here not too far from me that’s Turkish and looks really classy but they’ll deliver to my house. I get the feeling if I can get my butt there one of these weekends I’ll fall in love with the place and the owners. Damn. Now I’m gonna have to hit the Greek diner when I’m at the ranch for Thanksgiving! :)
The best thing that can come of this is another Guy Fieri skit on SNL. I love those.
BTW: Anyone know what the deal is with chefs and bleached spikey hair? There’s at least 3 of them (Guy’s the only male) on FoodTV, but I’ve seen a couple of others show up as soux chefs on Iron Chef.
Greek diners are the best, IMHO. And mine serves alcohol!
@Yutsano: I had a Turkish housemate in college, he was a great cook, the food is simple yet delicious, my favorites were chicken soup with rice, chickpeas and tomatoes, and potato salad with olive oil. Also, all kinds of kebabs! Plus tabouli.
@schrodinger’s cat: I don’t watch a lot of cooking shows. I enjoy the various Gordon Ramsay series, Rachel Ray, Bourdain, etc., but I just don’t watch a lot of TV. When I’m looking for a dish to make, I’ll start with RR and branch out.
I think Bourdain is just trying to see what he can get away with at this point. There’s another show (no idea who) where Bourdain showed up as the host’s friend and they proceeded to get drunk and cook meat. I loved it.
@MCA1: I miss Molto Mario. Just Mario Batale cooking for his friends and talking.
@Violet: “Come for the ambience, stay for the line outside the loo”?
@MCA1: The only actual cooking that’s left (other than Alton Brown) is basically Home Ec classes (Paula Deen, Rachel Ray, Sandra Lee and their ilk).
Good Eats is my favorite. And in defense of the “home ec” of the Rachels and Paulas: Some of us had plenty of food as kids, but didn’t have a clue as to how to cook. No grandma handed down beloved family recipes, or threw pinches and handfuls into a cooking pot and viola, magic happened. So we arrived in adulthood not really knowing the home-ec basics. And hilarity ensued.
(Not so much defending Sandra Lee’s show. Twenty minutes running time? Tablescaping isn’t that important in a cooking show.)
@Keith: Also tatoos, I guess you have to be badass to get respect in the kitchen, see for example, Bourdain Anthony.
What you’re talking about is what Jane & Michael Stern have been doing since about, oh, 1975. Fieri’s shtik is basically a dumber bro-dude ripoff.
What a harsh post? What has Guy done to any of us to make us so mean to him?
And I quite enjoy his Diner show. Makes me want to travel around the country and eat, eat, eat. But I love Cheesecake Factory which goes to show how low my expectations are, I guess.
Celebrity restaurant in Times Square serving overpriced, half-assed food to tourists. I think I’ve heard this one.
This reminds me of a comment I heard on the radio machine this morning: Papa John’s is just ketchup smeared on cardboard.
@Keith: I would imagine that the ways to style your hair that look good are limited for women working in a high stress, hot kitchen.
pseudonymous in nc
The New York magazine, the New York Post, and the guys from Serious Eats also appear to have an agenda, which is to point out really shitty restaurants when they eat at them. Some of the reviewers have actually cooked the dishes from recipes on the Food Network website, and it turns out that the Times Square place doesn’t cook ’em right.
Perhaps Ramsay can show up with his cameras and shout at Fieri for 30 minutes.
@Patricia Kayden: I know food snobs don’t like to go to chain restaurants, but when traveling they are the best bet, as mom and pop restaurants can be either great or they can suck big time. At least at the chains you know what you are getting. The much maligned Applebees has some healthy options which are quite decent. I think they are perfectly fine to grab a quick bite.
Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism
@Higgs Boson’s Mate: Not sure why it’s called that, but the recipe looks lovely.
Mayo, roasted garlic, yellow mustard, Worcestershire, kosher salt, black pepper.
I actually liked Yglesias’s point that you can’t even give Fieri credit for being a shrewd business man bilking idiot tourists… the restaurant makes far more sense as high profile loss leader advertisement for his brand.
I look forward to David Brooks’ review of the salad bar as he goes to Fieri’s restaurant in search of ‘real Americans’.
@call_me_ishmael: Thanks for bringing up DadBoner; I was unaware of him until seeing him referenced in all the Twitter traffic around that great review.
And here is DadBoner (Karl Welzein) trying to halp Mr. Fieri [NOTE: not for weak stomachs].
You could see the brutal rewiews coming all the way down Broadway. The Foodies don’t respect Fieri because of what he represents. He’s the Romney/Bain of the restaurant business.
I know some people that “know” Guy. Their consensus is that he’s a lowest common denominator knucklehead and mostly a douche. Luckily for him, there is a tremendous market for that skill set.
Jesus Christ, restaurants in time square are for small-town families wanting to eat in a flashy, famous place, not elitist arugula-chomping gourmands. Reading this review was like reading a parisian billionaire’s complaints about his stay at a economy hotel in disney world.
When traveling, I think it behooves any foodie to check out Yelp. I avoid chain restaurants whenever possible. I went to a Cheesecake Factory once, and it was like a 20 page long menu. They cannot be making all that food fresh to order! When a restaurant has too many menu items, I assume they are reheating stuff that was cooked elsewhere and frozen.
I am partial to Chopped when it comes to cooking shows. I find it inspirational and it has helped me become more creative in the kitchen.
Which one is Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives? Is that the one where it’s about how much food people can stuff down their throat in a short time?
Or do I need to be more specific?
Bob In Portland
The story surrounding the teen who stole his Lamborghini is more entertaining than his show. Look it up on the netses.
Slightly OT, but totally countable because it involves food, overpriced shit and a review…kinda…
And now I’m doomed to spend the entire day running around yelling “TIE IT UP WITH THE TWINE!”
Reformed Panty Sniffer
I confess that the DDD show is a guilty pleasure for me. I can watch it for hours (I love diners – worked in an NJ one through high school/college – waitresses rock.) DDD did a show on the Wells, ME diner awhile ago and I visited it this past summer and it was really, really good.
As for Fieri’s place, I walk past it quite often on the way to work. It’s huge ( 3 levels, 3 bars, gift shop). Touristy.
His partner is the guy who runs the Heartland Brewery, so all the beers are brewed fresh here in NYC for the place. (I’ll check out the bar some night, I think.)
The review was hysterical but Fieri is right that a restaturant of its size and scale probably needs a good 3-6 month window to work the kinks out.
If you can spend 30 bucks or so for a beer ($7.50 a pint) and a burger, you might not even care about the review.
There is a Canadian version of DDD up here that features a host who resembles the Verizon “Can you hear me now?” guy. As a host, he’s not as overwhelming as Guy, so there is more focus on the actual restaurant owners and their food instead of Guy’s foodgasms.
Week after week, the “Dining Section” of the NYT features reviews of restaurants where the average per-person cost of a three-course meal, beverage, tax and tip is well over $100. The handsmiles dine out regularly and we are fortunate with our income level, yet we cannot afford to eat at such establishments more than a few times each year.
One reason why restaurant websites such as Yelp, Chowhound, and Urban Spoon are so popular in the NY metro area is that the Times chooses to ignore the dining budget constraints of the vast majority of its local readership.
During the tenure of Sam Sifton, Pete Wells’ predecessor as the Times’ lead restaurant reviewer, the paper discontinued its long-running weekly column “$25 and Under.” (On rare occasions, an ethnic food-oriented column “Hungry City” now appears.) It should be noted that Sifton’s work reviewing restuarants so impressed his bosses that he was promoted to be the current national news editor of the Times. Nice work if you can get it, I guess.
This is all to say that I am more than a little puzzled why the Times decided to launch this mocking attack on a newly-opened restaurant whose menu, both in terms of selection and cost, is no different from a host of other establishments catering to the high-volume traffic of Times Square tourists. The kind of restaurant that opens regularly in that area, all without the notice of the “Grey Lady.” “Agenda?’ Yeah, I think Guy Fieri is entirely justified in claiming one.
Let me also say that I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for Fieri in his role as host of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” Each episode he celebrates the dedication, labor, creativity, and craftsmanship of restauranteurs who are committed to enhancing the leisure experience of the working and middle-class members of their communities. Fieri’s generosity of spirit and frank appreciation of these efforts are exemplary qualities, all too rarely encountered on television.
Figures he’s a Republican. No taste, no class.
@MCA1: I happened upon an older episode of New Scandinavian Cooking the other day. Wife and I were mainly interested in the beautiful scenery but the show as a whole was great. Not pretentious at all. And the focus on the food, recipe, process, as it should be. Many of the Scandinavian dishes I’ve seen are heavy on fish (I like steaky fishes grilled, and sushi mostly rather than baked with sauces etc.) so they didn’t really get me salivating. Tina Nordstrom, on the other hand…
Another great show for food is Rick Steve’s travel show. Most of the show is pure travel, but he almost always does at least one segment on the fine food of wherever he’s visiting.
@Reformed Panty Sniffer: “If you can spend 30 bucks…”
I don’t know anything about running a restaurant, but part of me wonders what the overhead is in Times Square v. a couple blocks off away. That must affect how one sets prices, otherwise it’d be all McDonalds’ right there.
(And I’ve stayed with an unmarried woman in a 47th St. hotel, on Diamond Row, a neighborhood with its own set of dangers!)
@Uncle Ebeneezer: For cooking show I like, I tend to skew old school, it is Julia and Jacques, that are my favorites.
I like America’s test kitchen for equipment reviews and taste tests, but their recipes are extremely convoluted.
Is that a quote or is that yours?
If you wrote that, props my good man, that is hell-eriously funny. That should be the definition of snob in the dictionary.
@Gus: Agreed. If it weren’t for him having to pretend he liked that tool Gwyneth Paltrow, that series he did on PBS where they traveled around Spain and ate local stuff and spoke Spanish would have been great. He’s just an enjoyable personality, but she was just an anchor sinking the proceedings.
I kind of miss that dork David Rosengarten, too.
Back to the main topic here, I agree that given the number of equally crappy tourist trap restaurant entertainment money mills in and around Times Square, it’s noteworthy and perhaps indicative of some sort of grudge that the Times saw fit to even review this place. Anyone who reads the Dining section knows it’s going to suck and would never go there, anyway. That said, the review was hilarious. And it does have a value – even heartland tourists who wouldn’t know Daniel Boulud if he spit on them deserve to get well-prepared food (even if ill-conceived) if they’re going to drop their hard-earned vacation dollars on a place like this. Even if we’re pretentious enough to think they wouldn’t know the difference, someone should be kicking a restaurant like this in the junk if it’s not even living up to the low culinary standards it’s set for itself.
I actually had dessert in the restaurant with friends one evening. Our experience was fine, very much like any of the other Times Square restaurants. But this review was just mean. With the setup, it should have been judged against other Times Square fare, which is pretty unremarkable and expensive. This was as expensive and for now a better experience than other comparable places. It’s not trying to be either more exclusive, or pretentious, like restaurants just to the north and west, nor anything more “New York” or non-American. Think a really nice Applebee’s or TGI Friday’s (which in Times Square ARE that expensive). Fieri is maybe not smart for attempting that type of place where and how it’s been realized, but the review was just petty and ridiculous.
@Rosalita: Seems to be happening in a way with HGTV too. I used to watch for stuff about interior design, building and architecture. Now it’s RETV–how many shows can you watch about whiny home-shoppers complaining about the size of the kitchen?
@The Ancient Randonneur: Oh, I love the Roadfood people! Thanks for reminding me they exist, I hear them on the Splendid Table when I’m driving and forget to check out the website.
EDIT: And they have one of my favorite Vermont dives listed. Fantastic.
I will give one (and only one) defense of Guy Fieri in a very specific arena: I was impressed that his frozen food offerings are surprisingly healthy (low in fat and sodium, high in fiber and protein). And … that’s about it.
That had to be the funniest review I have read in a while. While I like watching Diners, etc, for the spotlight on some gems, I do not enjoy Fieri’s yammering, his shoving of food in that mouth of his, nor his walking into kitchens in his flip flops. I cannot stand his stand alone show, particularly having to hear about doofaloof, dingdongagong, or whatever the names of his mentally 15 year old crew and what mess he is making that they are going to guzzle down with alcohol.
Yeah, four times at a place is enough to say it is you, Fieri…
I can’t watch “Chopped” because it became obvious to me after watching a few episodes that there’s an all-pervasive “chicks can’t cook” bias by the judges (even the female ones!) IIRC, the episode that terminally pissed me off was one where the winning chef had accidentally put salt in his dessert instead of sugar, but it was down to him and a woman, so he had to win.
I dunno, it’s been a couple of years since I watched it so maybe it’s gotten better, but it really seemed like the judges were going out of their way to disqualify the female chefs.
I’m a big triple D fan for one main reason; with the exception of the seafood dishes, pretty much everything he showcases has me thinking “Yeah, I’d eat that”. That’s good enough for me.
@Schlemizel: LOL!! You too? I find her so off putting. I feel ashamed as I love to eat and love good food, but I feel like I am listening to Peggy Noonan if she had a change in career. And that ain’t good…
@Cassidy: The only Gordon Ramsay shows I can stomach are the ones on BBC. The difference between the British and American versions of Kitchen Nightmares is night and day.
I don’t know, perhaps that wouldn’t be so bad. In the words of George Best: “I spent 90% of my money on women, drink and fast cars. The rest I wasted”.
Of course he died from multiple organ failure because he was an alcoholic, but it’s still a great quote.
Well this comment was awesome: “I wouldn’t feed the mess to a cat — the end-product of our struggle to extract edible elements from heaps of sugar and sludge masquerading as normal food.”
@Gus: That’s my preference too. He’s a lot more real, but the British owners he interacts with also don’t come across as entitled twits.
Tourists deserve decent food in Times Square. The food at Guy Feins is not edible is what the review is saying. It isn’t cheap.
Fieri is apparently a colossal douchebag, which is too bad, because his show highlights some cool restaurants and is generally a net positive in my book.
Have been to Tex Wasabi’s. Was crap.
I live half way between two of Fieri’s restaurants. I’ve been to the Tex Wasabi’s. I had some kind of fusion sushi. It was okay but not great. The restaurant wasn’t that attractive. I think it is the kind of place people try once, but it doesn’t live up to the hype. I didn’t even realize that the local Johnny Rockets was still in business, that’s how much buzz it gets! I could really enjoy triple D if Fieri (fake last name, just like the rest of him) wasn’t the host. I find him to be incredibly repetitive and annoying. His hair looks like something that went out style back in the 90’s. I find it hard to believe that he still appeals to anyone other than retirees that sell their homes and tour the country in their RVs.
Sadly, Alton Brown is on a diet.
The prophet Nostradumbass
There was a thread about this review at Layers Guns & Money yesterday, and one of commenters gave a link to this story about the show that pretty much confirms that Fieri is, indeed, a colossal douchebag.
Also, remember the band Smash Mouth? I think that’s where he got his look from.
I like DD&D in small quantities. I think some of the places are self-nominated to get free advertising whereas some places deserve to get some recognition. When we lived in Columbia, SC, he did this burger joint that was more of a hipster place. Good burgers with some interesting flavors, but not stellar and not some well-established old joint. In our current home of Boise, ID, he’s done 3 places, but 2 are closed. The still open one is Westside Drive-In which makes decent burgers and serves very good fries.
I think some of Guy’s “you do that all by hand” stuff is part of the act to get the audience to understand the choice the cooks make rather than bringing in half-cooked slop & ready-made buns, etc. (which is apparently what his restaurant does).
So you like the guy and don’t appreciate a mean review.
It’s a high-profile spot for a restaurant, and the main point isn’t mocking the chef. It’s that the way that the food is cooked demonstrates active contempt for both the style of cooking that he’s claiming to enjoy and his audience. (Unseasoned chicken as “cajun”, for example.)
The yelp reviews are very similar in their assessment of quality.
Maybe it’ll make the guy care about how good his food is in the future, so it could even end up as being a favor.
@Gin & Tonic
To this day, there still exists (albeit smaller) the el cheapo Tad’s Steaks chain in NYC.
No accounting for taste.
pseudonymous in nc
No shit, Sherlock. And the reviews — lots of reviews — say that it fails by that standard. It’s not even a good Flashy Times Square Tourist Restaurant.
Sam Choy is one of the (if not the) Big Cheeses in Hawaii chefs.
He opened a restaurant here a while back (if not mistaken, his first outside of Oahu). It closed rather quickly.
Friend and I went there once. We both ordered the bouillabaisse, which was decent (though a bit skimpy on the seafood). But…
It came in an extra-wide bowl, and piled up in the middle was an Everest-sized mound of mashed potatoes. Think the Devil’s Tower mound Richard Dreyfus’ character attempted in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Sitting in the broth.
Neither one of us, to this day, can quite believe that anyone, anywhere, with chef skills and training would think it commendable to un-haute cuisine like that and serve it proudly.
Eh, DDD isn’t a bad show b/c of the diners…if only Guy would shut up more and let them show off. I’ve seen some good local places adn even found a couple. That’s his production team though, and had NOTHING to do with him.
His actual “cooking” shows are pretty terrible, and if he’s the force behind the menu I’m not too surprised. Chain restaurants aren’t fine dining, but the food is at least palatable at Applebee’s if you limit yourself to say 1000 of the 3500 calories on your plate. Chain food doesn’t have to be great, but it needs to reach “ok” at minimum.
But I can’t handle him really anymore after hearing SEVERAL stories that he’s a homophobic douchebag in addition to be an obnoxious ‘bro’ type. BTW, I LOVE that his semi-italian sounding pronounciation of his name is made up. Guy Ferrry – hah!
For entertainment value along with actual tasty, mostly uncomplicated recipes, I fondly recall Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet.
I’ve seen the show a few times, occasionally featuring some really interesting looking restaurants, but it seemed to me mainly all centered upon the moment in which Fieri tries some enormous, super-rich menu item and makes a big mess of it while stumbling back, eyes closing, and exhorting the experience as amazingly good.
I am glad I’ve never even heard of this man until today.
Fieri went to college here in Las Vegas and he has raved about the strombolis at Four Kegs, a local sports bar, supposedly saying they were the best he ever had or some such. So my wife and I went there and, meh. They were good but not stellar. There are places in town that sell better ones for less money, IMO, so I’m not inclined to take his culinary advice.
U MAD BRO?
U SOUND MAD BRO.
@Mnemosyne: The guy who put salt instead of sugar in his cake lost in that episode.
Totally agree, there are technically no cooking shows on the food network -none.
Cook at least has a few where they , you know, cook things and show you how they did it.
Food N is all reality show chef battles on lost island crap.
Oh, and Guy’s sugar meat show, same as the guy with no finger nails -bobby flail?
West of the Rockies (formerly Frank W.)
Don’t care for the guy. He looks full of himself and that neo-skunk white hair/black facial hair thing is just too precious. Another guy who makes a ton of money based upon very limited personal skills.
I have no idea if the food is any good, but it seems that the WRITER of the story is mostly complaining about the WRITING of the menu.
This annoys me. Like “music” reviewers who review the LYRICS, and know not a damn thing about music. They’re more like poetry reviewers. They have no training in, or understanding of, music. They know only words.
Looks to me like this reviewer is a douchebag who reviewed the MENU, not the food. I haven’t been there, but I wouldn’t let the review keep me away.
@gene108: He won on a season of “Next Food Network Star”
The prophet Nostradumbass
The Serious Eats review, mentioned above, is here.
They weren’t impressed, either.
Have you looked at the menus for them? Food stylists can’t make that shit look appetizing. He’s got motherfucking french fries in something he calls “gringo sushi”.
It’s disgusting and appeals to the dumbest tools, it’s like Blue Collar Comedy but with frozen-then microwaved overprocessed MSG-ladened shit with gloppy HFCS sauce drizzled all over.
The prophet Nostradumbass
@maus: What, “Gringo Sushi” doesn’t make your mouth water?
DD&D is an absolute guilty pleasure. I love finding new restaurant gems and seeing hard-working people who obviously love their craft get some recognition…even if the cost for them is having to deal with an obnoxious face-mulletted man-child. But to see folks in this thread defending Guy Fieri – America’s Douchebag – this is incomprehensible to me. He didn’t conceptualize DD&D or create the show, he’s just the torturous mouth-breathing yahoo that’s inflicted on otherwise innocent cooks as the price of giving their joint national exposure. He doesn’t do the show out of some high-minded principle, he does it to get paid, and to meet and become friend’s with other pieces of shit like Dennis Miller. He’s the owner of several restaurant’s (typically named with the same kind of renegade high-concept genius that brought us Snakes on a Plane…I’m looking at you,Tex Wasabi’s), but he’s never cooked in them or anywhere else in a professional capacity. The miserable little peroxide-blond bowling-shirted hipster shitbag’s real name is Guy Ferry…I’m sure that change was due to the sudden discovery of previously unknown deep Italian roots and not focus group testing/his previously documented discomfort with the gheys.
Feel free to love the show, DD&D is a great concept. But remember that the one thing that could really improve it would be a new host.
Yes, but his bottled Kansas City Barbaque Sauce is outstanding.
But his bottled Kansas City Barbeque Sauce is outstanding.
Who thought there was going to be anything other than slop served at a restaurant at Times Square?