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Guy Fieri's NY Restaurant Slammed: What Do You Think?

The New York Times food critic takes on a 500-seat diner in downtown Manhattan, and comes up with more questions than answers.

Guy Fieri does not have a restaurant, per se, in Napa Valley. There's no Johnny Garlic's or Tex Wasabi's - you have to go to Santa Rosa for those. But his is not an unknown presence here. Several area establishments have been featured in his "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" TV series, including Squeeze Inn Hamburgers, Gott's Roadside and the Schellville Grill in nearby Sonoma.

But in the land of The French Laundry, Morimoto and The Thomas, do we really have the appetite for Fieri-bashing? Or is it really just about the hair?

This much we know: Guy Fieri took his television success to the Big Apple and opened Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar in Manhattan, having the audacity to do so in a space formerly occupied by the New York Times itself.

Perhaps that's why the food critic for the New York Times, Pete Wells, then decided in the interest of metropolitan sophisticates to apply the Socratic method to his review of the 500-seat restaurant, and not surprisingly came up with a scathing review.

Did you notice that the menu was an unreliable predictor of what actually came to the table?

Were you struck by how very far from awesome the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders are?

How did nachos, one of the hardest dishes in the American canon to mess up, turn out so deeply unlovable?

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?

We might ask, in turn, What's going on here? Mr. Wells does not review Bubba Gumps' or Red Lobster, as Slate.com pointed out; why turn his rapier wit on Fieri?

The controversy, naturally enough, is found on the front page of today's Santa Rosa Press Democrat, whose offices are walking distance to the original Tax Wasabi's. Their food blogger Heather "Biteclub" Irwin took on the story, and works over Guy Fieri pretty well in this posting.

This will probably all blow over, as another post-election distraction along the lines of email torso shots of FBI agents. But there seems to be a certain soupçon (love that word) of California-bashing in Wells' review, as if we really don't understand food, service or quality out here in the PST.

At your five Johnny Garlic’s restaurants in California, if servers arrive with main courses and find that the appetizers haven’t been cleared yet, do they try to find space for the new plates next to the dirty ones? Or does that just happen in Times Square, where people are used to crowding?

What do you think? Is Guy Fieri representative of California cuisine, is Pete Wells engaging in surrogate California bashing? Or is it just a watermelon margarita in a tea cup?

Tom November 15, 2012 at 07:36 PM
You couldn't buy better advertising. Sales should now take off!!
Scott Yeager November 15, 2012 at 08:31 PM
I read some quotes from about 6 different reviews of the restaurant and they were hilarious.
Kristina November 15, 2012 at 08:53 PM
When a writer goes to the extent that Mr. Wells did to bash a business/public figure, it make me wonder what might be going on behind the scenes. It also makes me doubt the validity behind his statements. Regardless, I think given the severity of Mr. Well's comments that Guy needs to respond publicly and serve this guy with an equal helping of vengeance. Checked his Facebook page and while he hasn't commented yet, lots of his fans have.
Scott Yeager November 15, 2012 at 11:48 PM
If he was the only one who gave it a bad review you could say that there was something going on behind the scenes, and there might be, but he wasn't the only one who said it wasn't a good place at all.
Nicholas Claymore Watter November 16, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I found the article extremely funny. Guy Fieri can paint himself as a "down to earth" American living the dream, but in reality he's just part of the Food Network industrial complex which allows chefs with terrible hair to make mediocre food (not to mention idiotic names such as "donkey sauce"). Fieri is not the voice of "Heartland America," he is its death. Guy Fieri's CA restaurants are already too close for comfort. Let's hope he doesn't come to Napa and further saturate our already bloated restaurant industry.
Unfiltered Steve Simoneau November 16, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Guy: "Hey Pete, come on down, try the menu on the house, and go write a nasty review. My TV ratings are down." Pete: "And the press will eat it up, our names will be everywhere!" Guy: "Yep! And then I'll complain, chew you out, and follow up by reporting that I fired a couple people and straightened things out." Pete: "We let the feud drag on until it loses steam, and then you invite me back, we make up, and my reviews sing your praises." Guy: "Excellent! Win-win! Tons of press, and I'll put you down for comp'd meals everywhere."
Robin Horton November 16, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Personally, I have eaten at Tex Wasabi's in Sac, the food was ok but overpriced, drinks were better. His restaurants aren't the best, however, he didn't deserve the slam. He isn't gearing his food toward French Laundry people so I don't get the negative nastiness. I have made some of his food from his cooking show, it was good.
Lorena Gervasio November 16, 2012 at 07:53 PM
The food that is going to be served at Napa Casino Royale Fundraiser tomorrow is going to make these celebrities weep! http://napavalley.patch.com/blog_posts/casino-royale-in-napa#comments https://www.facebook.com/pages/Napa-Shop-with-a-Cop/341191885966671?fref=ts

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