Reporting Shannon Hori
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – You’ve probably seen the billboards along the Palmetto Expressway or I-95 for best-selling author, restaurateur and Food Network star Guy Fieri’s new Guy’s Burger Joints on several Carnival ships.
Last October, the Miami-based cruise line announced the deal and said Fieri had designed five different signature burgers for the joints which would be located by the deck side pools.
Since then Guy’s Burger Joints have opened on the Carnival Breeze, Carnival Conquest and Carnival Liberty. This month one will open on the Carnival Glory and a final one will open next April on the Carnival Sunshine.
His latest venture in New York, however, has not exactly cruised to success. A New York Times review blasted the “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” host recently opened “Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar” in New York City.
The NY Times review gave the restaurant no stars and food critic Pete Wells called it “poor” as he served up the insults.
“Were you struck by how far from awesome the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders are,” he wrote.
“Hey, did you try that blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste,” wrote Wells. “The watermelon margarita? Any idea why it tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde?”
Wells didn’t stop there.
“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? 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 review went viral. Russ Parsons, food editor for the Los Angeles Times, said the problem at “Guy’s American Kitchen” is that it isn’t selling all-American food. Instead of a cheeseburger, Guy’s has a Black Angus beef patty with a slathering of Donkey Sauce.
Donkey Sauce. Wells addressed that too.
“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 Why has the hearty, rustic appeal of roasted-garlic mayonnaise been replaced by something that tastes like Miracle Whip with minced raw garlic?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?”
But the bad publicity may actually work in the restaurant’s favor, according to Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio because it will make people want to see for themselves if it really as bad as Wells said it is. .
“I think in this case, it’s probably going to help. Because I’m curious now. I’ll probably pass by and see what it’s all about,” said Voltaggio.
Voltaggio said one bad review won’t kill a restaurant but consistently bad food will. Seems Guy’s American Kitchen is not exactly a fan favorite on Yelp where most of those who gave reviews said they would go back.
“The steak was so rubbery, it felt like I was chewing beaver tail,” wrote one review.
“After getting our bill, we just felt cheated,” said another.
So how is Fieri taking the bad reviews? Some might say with a grain of salt.
“You can’t have eight restaurants and be doing it wrong, that wrong,” said Fieri.
Fieri owns five Johnny Garlic’s restaurants and two Tex Wasabi’s outposts in California.
“I thought it was ridiculous, that [review] to me was so overboard,” Fieri told NBS’s Today Show.
Fieri’s fellow Food Network stars agreed and thought Wells went too far.
“What it was was mean for the sake of meanness plus it tried to be cute at the same time,” tweeted Alton Brown.
“Was a tough review..felt a little to personal,” tweeted Michael Symon.
Fieri said Thursday morning that the restaurant had only been open for two months and acknowledged that there was room for improvement.
“We’re trying as hard as we can to make it right, to do it right,” he said. “Is it perfect right now? No. Are we striving for that? Yeah.”