The New York Times' takedown of Guy Fieri's restaurant: Too harsh?

The Week

The Grey Lady's restaurant critic Pete Wells pens a scathing, zero-star review of the bleach-blond celebrity-chef's latest endeavor

The review: "Is this how you roll in Flavor Town?" asks The New York Times' restaurant critic Pete Wells. It's one of the many rhetorical questions he poses to the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives host in his scathing review of Guy's American Kitchen & Bar restaurant in New York City's Times Square. While Wells' isn't the first negative review of the establishment, "it's certainly the harshest," says Eun Kyung Kim at TODAY.com, and as a result it quickly went viral after being published on Tuesday. An excerpt:

Somewhere within the yawning, three-level interior of Guy's American Kitchen & Bar, is there a long refrigerated tunnel that servers have to pass through to make sure that the French fries, already limp and oil-sogged, are also served cold?

What accounts for the vast difference between the Donkey Sauce recipe you've published and the Donkey Sauce in your restaurant? Why has the hearty, rustic appeal of roasted-garlic mayonnaise been replaced by something that tastes like Miracle Whip with minced raw garlic?

And when we hear the words Donkey Sauce, which part of the donkey are we supposed to think about?

Is the entire restaurant a very expensive piece of conceptual art? Is the shapeless, structureless baked alaska that droops and slumps and collapses while you eat it, or don't eat it, supposed to be a representation in sugar and eggs of the experience of going insane?

Why did the toasted marshmallow taste like fish?

The reaction: "One could call the review excessive, even cruel," says James Poniewozik at TIME. But the problem isn't "that Fieri is serving an unworthy, declassé kind of food. It's that he's taken the kind of authentic, lusty American foods that he's showcased in his Food Network eating tours, used it to build a personal brand and used that brand to pass off a lousy imitation." That may be true, says TODAY.com's Kim, but the review has many "barbs aimed at Fieri the individual, written in a personal way that may induce cringes from some readers." We'll definitely remember this moment, says celebrity chef Eddie Huang at his blog, the moment when "an essential voice in the food world went on the record" to condemn the Food Network, Guy Fieri, and "this system of big box restaurants with Cheesecake Factory food propped up by people who can't cook." As the debate rages on, though, will any of this even matter? "Were any non-food writers in New York actually planning on going to Guy's?" asks Gothamist. "And will any tourists from the rest of the country even care what a snobby critic from the liberal New York Times has to say about the joint?"

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