There are few things that New York City food snobs enjoy more than belittling chain restaurants that we all seem to think dot the Midwest. Whether it be TGI Fridays, Club Applebees, Chilis, or Outback Steakhouse, foodies turn into hyenas the minute molten chocolate cake a la mode or blooming onion type dishes are spotted on the menu. Culinary elitism is one of the hallmarks of this fantastic city, so when Guy Fieri, the colorful television host and chef whose trademark bleach blonde hair and tacky shirts have made him the butt of many a culinary joke, announced he was opening his first NYC restaurant (in Times Square, no less), food nerds everywhere were on the prowl.
Fieri could have exercised the culinary finesse he exhibited during while on “The Next Food Network Star.” He could have taken this venture seriously and distanced himself from kitschy restaurants he’s become known for, and ditched his Snookie-of-the-food-world persona once and for all.
Unfortunately, he decided to grace us with dishes such as the “Triple Double Pies,” “Slamma Jamma Chicken Parm,” and “Buffalo Bleu-Sabi Ain’t No Thing Butta Chicken Wing Wings” [sic]. One dish that stood out as being especially terrible was the “Tequila Turkey Fettucini.” Perhaps it was the overcooked turkey that was drenched in the sauce, or the tough pasta that one almost needed a fork and knife to eat, but this dish was a disgrace to tequila and an insult to one’s wallet. Other dishes were downright puzzling, such as the patheticly named “Guy-talian Nachos”, which is sort of a Guy Fieri twist on an Italian version on a Mexican-inspired southwest staple dish. The dish is described as “cheesy nachos, packed with sweet Italian turkey sausage, ground beef, pepperoni, piquante peppers, ricotta crema, cheese + fresh herbs on fried pasta chips.” These things are downright gut bombs that make you queasy after taking a single bite.You get the feeling that Fieri came home blackout drunk one day and threw together a bunch of crap he found in his pantry, soaked it in whatever leftover alcohol he had left and gave it a ridiculous name.
To be fair, there were a few silver (stomach) linings. His Vegas Fries (a nod to his time at University of Nevada-Las Vegas) are tossed in house made Buffalo sauce, and come with a second helping of his bleu-sabi (yep, that is indeed bleu cheese wasabi) sauce. Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar also deserves some praise for their drink selections. Despite steep prices (at least $12 per drink), the libations (perhaps not surprisingly) pack a fairly potent punch.
Even considering these perks, Fieri’s monstrosity is on par with The Cheesecake Factory at best. This place is like a real-life incarnation of Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag, and that leads one to believe that the only reason foodies would visit sober is for a good laugh. The clientele is a solid mixture of tourists, office workers, and other people that were there to genuinely enjoy some unpretentious (though far from uncomplicated) fare in a light-hearted environment. At the end of the day, his 500 seat house-of-food is striving to offer realatively creative food with a familiar, larger-than-life personality as the very public brains behind the operation. Too often, foodies are concerned with who is being the most inventive and using the ingredients in new and innovative ways, but that type of experimental cuisine only appeals to a small subset of people. Not everyone wants to have foie gras donuts or beef tongue salad for dinner, and would be perfectly content with a Cheeseburger and donkey sauce, and for them, Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar is a great pick.
Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar is located at 220 West 44th Street (between Shubert Alley & 8th Avenue)