Photo: Kim Bhasin Business Insider
Last month, The New York Times utterly destroyed Food Network host Guy Fieri’s new Times Square restaurant and caused a huge ruckus in the food world.The initial Pete Wells NYT review didn’t have a single good thing to say about the eating establishment. The New York Observer, New York Post, and TimeOut NY also trashed the place.
Fieri flew into New York to appear on the Today show to give his side of the story. He said that Wells had an “agenda” and just wanted to make a name for himself by bashing him.
Bloomberg’s Tom Keene came to the defence of Fieri’s food.
“This uproar is nothing but ‘an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterise themselves as intellectuals‘ pounding on the cuisine, the food, the diet of middle-class America,” he wrote, accompanied by a mostly positive review he posted on Facebook.
Oh, and it has a 2.5-star average rating on Yelp.
This is all in the two months that the gargantuan restaurant has been open.
So, today, four of us here at Business Insider headed over to Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar for lunch.
Photo: Alaina McConnell Business Insider
The verdict:Stop trashing Guy Fieri.
His restaurant isn’t terrible — it’s decent. It’s, at the very least, on-par with big chain restaurants like T.G.I. Friday’s, Applebee’s, or chilli’s — the sort of fare you’ll find in Times Square. That’s what’s popular.
They’re far from the pinnacle of American cuisine, but they do attract millions upon millions of eaters.
And that’s what Fieri’s restaurant is built to do.
It’s a venture that wants to appeal to the mass market — the Times Square tourist market — as evidenced by its 500 seats. Nobody should expect a life-changing culinary marvel from it.
The food was OK — definitely not the horrific, inedible trash-heap Wells described.
The experience was good too. During the day, there’s a relaxed atmosphere and a few TVs with Food Network and ESPN playing on the lower floor.
Business Insider Wall Street editor Linette Lopez even declared the restaurant a “perfect” place for Wall Streeters to go.
After the endless snarkbombs being lobbed at the restaurant, it was impossible to walk into that place with anything higher than rock bottom expectations.
Photo: Kim Bhasin Business Insider
But we were pleasantly surprised.
We were seated immediately — at 1 PM on a Thursday in a venue that’s so massive, seating is hardly an issue. We joined the slew of tourists and holiday shoppers on the lowest level of Guy’s cavernous three-story establishment, which, despite its healthy afternoon bustle, still felt empty.
The drink menu looked weird and a little gross — why would you put Goldschlager in a Manhattan? C’mon man — so we skipped the cocktails.
Instead, we went straight for the “Guy-talian Nachos” that Wells eviscerated as “deeply unlovable.”
Overall, the nachos were tasty and quickly devoured. The chips were crunchy even at the bottom and the combination of Italian turkey sausage, ricotta crema, and piquante peppers was pleasantly flavorful. Our only qualm was that the meat was served at room temperature.
Then the entrees arrived. The portions were enormous, and none of us even attempted to clean our plates.
“Out of the six absurdly-named Motley Que Ribs put on my plate, I could only eat three,” said Alex Davies, Business Insider’s transportation reporter. “They were standard ribs, exactly what I expected, but the sauce was too sweet and tangy.”
The Roasted Pork Bahn Mi sandwich was fine, too. The pickled veggies were crunchy and the pork was tender. The french baguette didn’t stand a chance against the fatty juices of the pork, though, and left us with a sticky, wet mess that even the oversized napkin couldn’t resolve.
The fries, however, were excellent — hot, crispy, and golden brown, just like the menu promised.
If only the Donkey Sauce could have followed suit (it was really just glorified mayonnaise with a special name).
Apart from the mediocre food, the decor was fine, the restrooms were clean, and the service was attentive and friendly.
The prices were steep — most of the entrees are between $20-$30, with the sandwiches in the upper teens — but what else could you expect from a restaurant in Times Square? You’ll get the same at the Hard Rock or Bubba Gump nearby.
Don’t worry, Guy, we agree with Keene when he wrote, “the place is brand new, ambitious and creates 150 to 200 jobs in the tourist nexus of New York City. Get over it Food Philistines.”
If, for some reason, we had to eat at a Times Square spot again, we’d be willing to go back to flavour Town.
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