Late Night Basement Trolls Willamsburg Dwellers With Fake Guy Fieri Joint

When Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar opened late last year in Times Square, it was met with a blitzkreig of critical pans. Cocktails that tasted of formaldehyde and bongwater, calorie counts in the five figures, all sorts of clashing, sticky sauces on overcooked giant cuts of meat—it sounded like the making of a tourist mecca, and a self-proclaimed "foodie" torture chamber. So really, it was only a matter of time before a certain variety of New Yorker (namely, the kind currently gentrifying various Brooklyn neighborhoods while scoffing at tourists and their tourist destinations) would start going there to dine "ironically." You can’t help but roll your eyes at this, but we all know someone—and maybe, it’s you—who moved to The Big City from the South or the Midwest, who always Instagrams from the farmer’s markets and the taco trucks and the gastropubs, but every once in a while, you catch them at the Chili’s in the tourist hub, just because they’re looking for something familiar.

Anyway, whatever the M.O. is for Williamsburg’s insufferable elite visiting Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar, Chris Rose and the team at Late Night Basement decided to troll a bunch of trendy urbanites by offering the horrifying news that their backwards-sunglasses-wearing foe would be opening a restaurant in their neighborhood. Most of the responses to Guy’s "factory-farm-to-table" were predictably met with either abject horror or ironic glee ("It’s going to be terrible," remarks one interviewee. "I can’t wait."), with one woman suggesting it would be good as an overnight drunk-food-type situation. According to Rose, the fare would include nacho cheese foie gras (in which the poor poultry has been force-fed nacho cheese for two months, a horror almost delicious to ponder) and—A+—"gentrifries," along with a menu curated by Vampire Weekend. It’s hard to tell if the people are aware their legs are being pulled (my guess is most are, probably), but it’s still pretty funny. Watch.

[via Uproxx]

Is Guy’s American Kitchen Really That Bad?

It’s odd to walk into a restaurant on the day it got incredibly slammed by the New York Times. There is a hush to it, almost as if you are doing something daring and bold for walking through those condemned doors. Last Tuesday, that’s exactly how it felt when I checked out Guy Fieri’s first New York restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar, which opened two months ago in Times Square.

As we sat down in one of the immense, plush booths, I couldn’t help but wonder if the food would turn out as bad as restaurant critic Pete Wells made it seem in his now infamous NYT review. So, we started with that “blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste” and a caliente margarita. The former tasted like a watermelon Jolly Rancher and the margarita had no heat, but where they terrible? Not really. I mean, I don’t really want to drink a beverage that sweet, but I don’t like appletinis either.

But, many people do like appletinis, and it’s obvious that those are the people Fieri’s restaurant is catering to. Lest us not forget, he opened the 500-seat eatery in Times Square. As to the food Wells complained about, true, the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders aren’t very awesome and lack any hint of smoked almonds or salty pretzel, but they didn’t exude “chewy air.” The Guy-talian Nachos taste like an Italian hero was dumped on chips and heated up, and Guy’s Famous Big Bite Caesar salad proved uninspired and definitely not a “big bite,” but it is a side salad, and on that note, a huge portion.

Actually, all the portions are hefty, just like many Americans want them to be, and the food, while not spicy enough for me and way too sweet, is actually the flavor profile many Americans crave—especially Americans traveling to New York to eat in Times Square.

Last week I ate there as their guest, so on Saturday I decided to pop in on the sly to see if the food remained decent. Short answer: yes. The only real difference was the service, but where during the week it remained quiet, it was packed with people waiting to sit down on the weekend. And of those, not one person I spoke to lived in the city.

At the bar, a woman from Colorado and her 16-year-old daughter waited for a table, they had come to celebrate the teen’s birthday. On my left, an older couple from Philadelphia was visiting and wanted to check out the restaurant because they love Fieri’s show. The woman shook her head and commented on how mean the review was and her husband elegantly pointed out, “This is fun dining, not fine dining.”

No one in the culinary world is really standing up to say Guy’s American Kitchen is a great restaurant, but I don’t believe anyone ever thought it would be. After all, it’s cut from two molds: Food Network stardom, and Heartland Brewery’s corporate model. It’s like Applebee’s or, as the clever mock-paper The Onion pointed out, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  It’s not a place meant to be taken seriously, and it appears Wells did, or does, or whatever. FierI told The Today Show that he felt Wells had an agenda, and even if that’s true, the real question is, should the New York Times be reviewing a place like this? It’s hard to say, but one thing is for sure: now curious people are flocking to check out Fieri’s spot, for better or for worse. 

Guy Fieri Takes Manhattan

It’s official; starting Monday, Guy Fieri takes New York. After overseeing five restaurants in California and spending two years as the face of the Food Network, the celebrity chef opens Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar, his first New York restaurant in the heart of the city: Times Square. His new joint has around 500 seats, three levels, and will feature the food that helped make the frost-tipped chef famous. I pulled Fieri away from grilling up pizzas at his son’s birthday party in order to chat on the phone with the chef about his New York debut. 

What took you so long to get to New York?
I am a California guy. I came to New York before, but I had never spent a long time there. It’s an amazing place with such a strong collection of restaurants. To be honest, not being from the East Coast, you kind of go play ball where you know how to play ball. But the more times I was in New York, the more I looked at it and thought, “Wow, I would sure like to do a restaurant here.” But I didn’t have any roots in the city. Then I met Jon Bloostein, who owns Heartland Brewery. Someone came to me and said Jon was interested in doing a restaurant with me and suddenly we were off running.

Why did you decide now was the time?
You have to do it when it’s the right time, and I wanted make sure I got the right connections, the right partner, and the right energy.

So, you and Bloostein have become quite the pair…
Jon is a mastermind; the dude has got it ten-fold. Jon is so creative, and he goes at everything with such a drive and such a passion. I love seeing someone who runs that hard.

Why Times Square?
Being in Times Square and being around all these types of people—it’s the heartbeat of the city.

Do you feel like the space suits you?
I lost my little sister to cancer a year and half ago and I have a tattoo on my arm for her. When you walk into the restaurant, by the side of the bar, they are doing a chalk mural of this tattoo of mine. There are a lot of pictures of my cars, and a lot of stuff about me. It’s funny the things you will see on the wall, like “love, peace and taco grease.” This is my hangout, this is my casa, this is my gig.

How do you think your restaurant will fit into the New York food scene?
I am trying to make something for everybody but still gives people a lot of culinary opportunities. It’s going to be great food in an eclectic environment. If you are looking for loud and wild, we got that. Quieter, or large tables, or watching the kitchen—we got that, too. We know we are going to have to deliver the real-deal food. We will have to stay focused, but I am confident that we really have sharp players. Two of my culinary guys from my team [in Los Angeles] are there full time. It’s going to be really fun

Will you have any special, signature dishes just for your New York restaurant?
The whole menu is the tough part. When we were designing it, there were 90 items, and then we had to pare down. Now, we got an eclectic mix of pastas, and not your traditional Italian linguine and clams. For example, we have Louisiana pasta with blackened chicken breast. We have spicy onion rings that we hand make, and sashimi tuna tacos in crispy wanton skins. Basically, it’s my style of doing food and it’s all fortified with my Guy Fieri style and flavors.

When people come to a restaurant like this, whether it’s because they are fans of mine, for the food, or just because they’re in New York, I want them to walk away thinking they are taking something back with them. We are also making some custom beers with some great names like the El Jefe. Jon made all these beers in the style we were looking for, and my tattoo artist made all the logos for the beer, like there is a keg that is in a gun. It’s just really cool

Does this new restaurant mean we will be seeing more of you here?
Like crazy. The TV thing is a blessed opportunity, but I am still a chef in a restaurant. I make it to New York once or twice a month, and now, even more. We might get an apartment since the restaurant will be my home base.