Celebs

Guy Fieri's restaurant slammed in review: Was it too harsh?

Nov. 14, 2012 at 11:52 AM ET

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Food Network star Guy Fieri was hit hard by New York Times restaurant reviewer Pete Wells.

Have you read the New York Times review of the sprawling Times Square restaurant opened by celebrity chef Guy Fieri?

Get the feeling critic Pete Wells had really strong feelings about it?

Written entirely in rhetorical questions, the review of the new Times Square restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, offers up an assessment full of acidic sarcasm before finally giving the place zero stars and a “poor rating.”

In what reads like an open letter to the bleached-blond "Diners Drive-ins and Dives" host, the review practically accuses the Food Network star of failing to have set foot in his newest eatery. He then takes aim at everything he experienced during several visits to the 500-seat place.

“When you have a second, Mr. Fieri, would you see what happened to the black bean and roasted squash soup we ordered?” Wells writes.

“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?”

And later in the review: “And when we hear the words Donkey Sauce, which part of the donkey are we supposed to think about?”

Wells writes that the restaurant’s “well-meaning staff" has acknowledged the restaurant's shortcomings, but customer service doesn’t get a pass here. Instead, Fieri is asked if someone with a reservation shows up at one of Fieri’s other famed restaurants “and the rest of the party has already been seated, does the host say, ‘Why don’t you have a look around and see if you can find them?’ and point in the general direction of about 200 seats?”

And then there are the barbs aimed at Fieri the individual, written in a personal way that may induce cringes from some readers. In particular, Wells questions whether Fieri deserves his chef credentials and the widespread plaudits he receives from cable network fans.

“Has anyone ever told you that your high-wattage passion for no-collar American food makes you television’s answer to Calvin Trillin, if Mr. Trillin bleached his hair, drove a Camaro and drank Boozy Creamsicles? When you cruise around the country for your show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” rasping out slangy odes to the unfancy places where Americans like to get down and greasy, do you really mean it?” Wells writes. “Or is it all an act? Is that why the kind of cooking you celebrate on television is treated with so little respect at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar?”

The Times review isn’t the first negative reaction to Fieri’s restaurant, but it’s by far the harshest. In a review titled "Not our type of Guy," the New York Post's Steve Cuozzo slammed the restaurant last month, saying about the food, "I wouldn’t feed the mess to a cat."

Asked about that particular comment on CBS' "Morning Show," Fieri fired back, “Well, they must not like their cat very much.”

In September, outspoken food personality Anthony Bourdain, who has taken aim at Fieri in the past, criticized the restaurant on his Sirius XM radio show. "First of all, he single-handedly turned the neighborhood into the Ed Hardy district, which I'm a little pissed off about. ... All of these poor bastards see him eating cheap food on TV, they go in there and it's what, $18? For a f------ hamburger?"

Fieri is a polarizing figure — while he's been the punching bag of critics, he's also beloved by many fans and even has a slew of impersonators. Unknown until 2006 when he won the second season of "The Next Food Network Star," Fieri now ranks as the 10th highest paid chef in the country, according to Forbes.

Many of his Facebook followers — even those who acknowledge they aren't Fieri fans — have come to his defense.

“It is clear that the review dislikes Guy and decided (likely before they even arrived at the restaurant) that they would write a horrible review,” wrote Ryan Whibbs.

He wished Fieri “all the best with Guy’s American Kitchen — it looks beautiful — and don’t let some know-nothing ‘foodie’ rain on your parade.”

Said Natalie Morales on TODAY Wednesday, "Sometimes critics go too far."

A call to Fieri's publicist was not immediately returned. Fieri has said he cooks what he knows and his best reviews come from his customers.

“I know the success of my food," he told CBS. "I mean, you can’t have eight restaurants and be doing it wrong, or that wrong.”

Read the full review here, and tell us, do you think it was too harsh?

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