Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Man Dissatisfied With Meal

Pete Wells goes freakin' OFF on Guy Fieri's new restaurant, man. You may remember that he also disliked Eleven Madison Park's new menu with great gusto. Things he did not like (which are usually done so well in Times Square family-style restaurants backed by celebrities):

"Why is one of the few things on your menu that can be eaten without fear or regret — a lunch-only sandwich of chopped soy-glazed pork with coleslaw and cucumbers — called a Roasted Pork Bahn Mi, when it resembles that item about as much as you resemble Emily Dickinson?"

"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?"

"Were you struck by how very far from awesome the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders are? If you hadn’t come up with the recipe yourself, would you ever guess that the shiny tissue of breading that exudes grease onto the plate contains either pretzels or smoked almonds? Did you discern any buttermilk or brine in the white meat, or did you think it tasted like chewy air?"

"If a customer shows up with a reservation at one of your two Tex Wasabi’s outlets, 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?"

"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?"

Oh, Pete. Maybe you could come over and Stanley Tucci could just make us a simple omelet, like in "Big Night." He even has a new cookbook, and really seems like a stand-up guy. Remember when he was the dad in "Easy A"?

105 Comments / Post A Comment



rollicking laughs also to be found in this review.


@madge I much prefer the Observer review. Thanks for linking. Crispy crimes indeed!


@madge "his goatee-framed sphincter-mouth"
Oh god. I hate Guy so much, and this review is giving me so much life.

Daisy Razor

This review mainly made me really, really crave Rhode Island-style calamari.

Lily Rowan

@Daisy Razor Everything about that review made me want the delicious version of all the food that is so terrible there. (And the prices! Oy.)

Daisy Razor

@Lily Rowan Oh, for real. I might just get some cheap, delicious bánh mì for dinner tonight.

Lily Rowan

@Daisy Razor I was still more on the nachos/mozzarella sticks/etc. train...


@Daisy Razor Oh silly country people, they just have no idea that banh mi is supposed to cost like $5. Also be delicious.


@Megano! My regular banh mi place charges $3.75 and it is delicious and huge and...I will probably be going there tonight.


Man, I read this whole review with this look on my face: :O and also this one O_______O

I know a couple line cooks (not at this place!) and they shared this on Facebook with much glee.


I can't wait for DadBoner to react to this article, you guys.


@itiresias He's still drinking a thousand beers for the vets.

Ragged But Right

I LIVE for furious restaurant reviews! My very favourite is A.A. Gill's review of Daylesford Organics in the Times. Gill is no saint, but his justifiably anger is hilarious. It's behind the pay wall sadly, but here's a taster: http://bit.ly/UGD9DK

Beatrix Kiddo

This review made my morning. The Emily Dickinson line! And the part about the baked alaska as a representation of going insane!


@Beatrix Kiddo Me too. I was reading it in bed in a half-asleep state and still cracking up.

Beatrix Kiddo

@Ellie I straight-up guffawed at my desk at work, perhaps drawing too much attention to myself.


This is pretty funny but it pales in comparison to Frank Bruni's review of the short lived Ninja restaurant.


@Leanne Ummm....that place is still open :(


@parallel-lines you are 100% correct. I didn't even bother to check. WOWSA.

Anna Jayne@twitter

@Leanne one of my friends actually went there! She concurred with Bruni.

ayo nicole

@Leanne MY FAVORITE. I love him.


@Leanne holy shit. thank you for sharing that. excuse me while I continue to laugh crazily at my desk..

Bus Driver Stu Benedict

Maybe it's spelled wrong for a reason. Like "Roasted Pork Road Noodle" (using an Indonesian word for noodle, the only "mi" that made sense).

Myself, I would love to find a passable substitute for bánh mì (the bread) that doesn't involve driving over to Little Saigon.

RK Fire

@Bus Driver Stu Benedict Thank you for commenting on the misspelling, I wanted to but I wasn't sure if I was being a pain in the ass.

Also, Andrea Nguyen has a recipe for bánh mì (which means bread in Vietnamese*) in her cookbook, and possibly her website. I've never tried it because I'm a little too lazy to bake the bread for a sandwich, and would rather drive an hour to Eden Center.

*yes, this means the phrase "banh mi sandwiches" is hilarious


@RK Fire Oooh, Eden Center! I miss that place so much-they have so many strange flavors of bubble tea.

RK Fire

@parallel-lines As much as I love the food, my favorite part of Eden Center is seeing pictures of this guy:

Bus Driver Stu Benedict

@RK Fire She recommends bolillos, which I'd thought of before, but my hunger is elsewhere when I'm in a panaderia.

Shameful confession: I used to pronounce them as "bành mỉ" for the longest time.

RK Fire

@Bus Driver Stu Benedict: http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2007/05/vietnamese_bagu.html ?

Shit, you bother putting the diacritical marks in, which puts you way ahead of 99.99% of the US population, including at least half of the Vietnamese American community on the internet. (And the overwhelming majority of us don't even bother putting the marks in on our names.) I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Bus Driver Stu Benedict

@RK Fire That's the page! I have a baguette pan, but I don't trust myself to get the crust right.

Also: I like being right :þ (ànd flëxiñg mý ke¥bøård læôµt (I still had to paste the squiggly i in though))


I would totally eat here for shits and giggles if not for 1. the stupid price point 2. the stupid food and 3. the stupid wait.


@parallel-lines And the fact that you'd have to go to Times Square. *shudder*

My husband works in TS. I'm going to make him go and report back.


What's truly confounding about this review is that Wells writes with authority about SO MANY DIFFERENT DISHES ON THE MENU (shudder). I hope he went with a party of 20.


@purefog Was also wondering about that! Which just seems like its own sub-circle of Fieri Restaurant Hell: A party of 20, with each person tormented by their own deep-fried concoction that may or may not have buffalo sauce on it. #shudder


@purefog Reviewers tend to go to a restaurant multiple times to get a clear sense of the food/service/etc over different days and for different meals (ie lunch vs dinner, Friday night vs Wednesday night, etc).

And they tend to go with several people to maximize the amount of dishes tried.

RK Fire

His review of the nachos and french fries in this restaurant is fantastically scathing! I love it. I had no opinion of Fieri up until this morning.


@RK Fire Me either! Have never watched his show nor eaten his food. This morning, though, I am scouring the interwebs for more hilarious reviews of his "work."

Beatrix Kiddo

@RK Fire My only opinion of him before this restaurant opened was hatred of the fact that he wears sunglasses on the back of his head and general feeling that he's obnoxious. I didn't know he also had terrible, terrible taste and no ability to run a restaurant of his own.


@par_parenthese Your link went wonky: fixed, and now I have the recipe for frozen grapes, thank goodness!


As a piece of writing, Wells' review is awesomely hilarious. BUT: Is anyone surprised that the restaurant is the way it is? That the food tastes like greasy cardboard, that the fries are limp + cold (that's what s/he said), that the drinks glow blue?

Who eats at these types of places? Who would think, hm, this sounds delicious? Who would go there for real, vs. going there to watch the hot mess unfold before their eyes time and again?


@cabot_cove_syndrome there are lots of terrible restaurants in times square, and long lines outside all of them!


@madge Ya. But whyyy? Sociologically, it's fascinating. Is it really simply 100% tourists determined to get in on a "New York" experience that is neither?


@cabot_cove_syndrome it IS fascinating. i think some of it might be sheer exhaustion. a tourist who rarely walks anywhere is suddenly on their feet for 10 hours and just can't be arsed to walk an avenue or two over to get an actual good meal.

this actually happened to me on a work visit to NYC once! i'd been working with cranky clients all day and was staying in times square and ended up getting a $18 grilled cheese at maxi's. which was cold and congealy and nasty.


@cabot_cove_syndrome Maybe they pump something into the air that makes you feel like you're starving the second you step into Times Square?


@cabot_cove_syndrome I find that most visitors do NOT want a "New York Experience"--they want to eat the same things they eat back home and recoil at the idea of eating something potentially "ethnic" or "spicy" or "weird".



As parallel-lines so astutely observes, the average visitor to Times Square is not seeking a "New York Experience" for dining. If they were, they would only have to go two or three blocks out of the area to eat where the natives are eating, and most of them are clearly freaked out when they end up on those streets by mistake.

I work in Times Square. In the past several years, the area has been throughly colonized by very LARGE versions of all the chain restaurants that are usually attached to shopping malls, and I'm guessing they aren't losing money.


@parallel-lines Touché - v. v. true. I'm a DC gal with fam in Brooklyn (Greenpoint in the house!). When I visit, it's all Calexico, Krolewskie Jadlo, Amélie... I relish, absolutely relish the delicious tastes and flavors. No way I'd ever seek out what I have back home, 'cuz DC is like a big ol' country club restaurant: sauerkraut and boiled goose, anyone?


@Megano! Perhaps? I find the smell of burnt pretzels combined with tourist mobs decidedly unappetizing.


@madge Oof. I can get that - I get comments ALL THE TIME in DC from tourists on the buses or metro about how exhausted they are from "walking all day" and wouldn't it be easier to drive and how does anyone get anywhere in this town and are they there yet? Shhhh, little tourists, shhhh...


@cabot_cove_syndrome OHMYGOD now I want Calexico for lunch. (and dinner, because Holy Huge Burrito, Batman)

superfluous consonants

@madge Or they can't find the good places, which are often small and/or out of the way. I've met a lot of people who assume if something is of high quality, everyone will have heard of it. Everyone has, indeed, heard of Times Square, and why would everyone know about it if it's terrible? (psst: it's terrible.)

Valley Girl

@cabot_cove_syndrome I'm a total suburbanite who stayed in DC for 10 weeks this spring and so help me I missed my little air conditioned privacy bubble of a car more than I even could have imagined. I still hustled my little tourist butt all over on the metro to try out tons of amazing restaurants all on my lonesome, though, and it was well worth it :9


@cabot_cove_syndrome I used to work for Tourmobile (before they went out of business) and people used to complain about how far the walk from the bus stop to the actual site was.


I'm trying to figure out why he went there in the first place. Like, it's a GIANT GIMMICKY RESTAURANT IN TIMES SQUARE. The food is clearly going to be terrible. (But the review IS hilarious. Maybe that's why he went?)


@Ophelia Right? I was talking about it with my co-workers this morning, and one said, "I can't understand why anyone would go there now." Because it's Times Square and tourists literally Don't Give a Shit about a NYTimes review.

Lily Rowan

@Ophelia I don't think it was definitely going to be terrible. It sounds like they ruined all of the trashy American food classics (and then some).


@Ophelia Exactly what I was thinking... would you expect anything different? I surely wouldn't. And don't call me Shirley.


@Ophelia His editor told him to, basically. Probably because they knew what would happen and it would be link bait.

Gef the Talking Mongoose

@Megano! : Yeah, this one's basically the culinary version of "Cintra Wilson goes to J.C. Penney" which, I am not ashamed to admit, still cracks me up.

Barry Grant

@cabot_cove_syndrome "And don't call me Shirley."

OK boys, let's take some pictures.


@Barry Grant Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop having gleeful schaudenfraude from terrible restaurant reviews.


OMG, "Big Night" is one of the best movies ever and I'd totally forgotten about it until now. Tucci love.

Pound of Salt

@greatkate Movie so great, Tucci so great!!

fondue with cheddar

@Pound of Salt YESYESYEEEEESSS. I have made everyone I date for the past decade-and-a-half watch that movie. I love Stanley Tucci!

Have you seen The Impostors? It's got a lot of the same cast and is freakin' fantastic.

Sunny Schomaker

@greatkate I will now post my largely off-topic, anticlimactic story of the time I waited on Stanley Tucci:

I was once a waitress in a German bar/restaurant. One evening (for reasons I can't even begin to wrap my head around), Stanley Tucci was in our humble, sauerkraut-stinking place. He deflected all questions of "aren't you that guy?" with a polite, but firm no, but it was clearly him. He was refreshingly normal (I have, oddly, waited on a not insubstantial number of notable or semi-notable folk). The end.

Anna Jayne@twitter

Now all I can think about is the Tooch and P. Clarks going "T, T, T, T." They are the best.


My personal favorite part:
"SERVICE The well-meaning staff seems to realize that this is not a real restaurant."

GOD those poor people working there.


So, one of my good friends worked at the food network and she has nothing but glowing things to say about Guy Fieri. She said he was the most gracious person out of all the talent, super generous and kind, sent hand-written notes to sick kids in the hospital, yada yada yada. So that sort of took an edge of my white hot flame of hate for the dude. Apparently the douchebag is nice, god damn it.

RK Fire

@parallel-lines As someone who knows someone who works at the Food Network, could you tell me whether or not my dream job of "Food Researcher" is a legit thing? Would it be possible for me to find a job where I could travel around and taste things as research for the shows?


@RK Fire ...maybe? But they pay really badly and I've had several friends not make it a whole year working there. So freelance food research in the meantime!


@parallel-lines I don't see myself every buying his cookbooks or visiting his restaurant, but he does always come across as an unquestionably nice person on the Food Network, and I love both the concept and execution of "Drivers, Dine Ins and Dives."

RK Fire

@parallel-lines Noooooo! Another dream dashed.


@RK Fire Be a food researcher for thehairpin! Even if it's only in the comments! :) I would love to read whatever you write about your experiences in such a position.


@KatnotCat I love Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, I won't pretend otherwise.

RK Fire

@lagreen: You know, I've always joked about that being my dream job ("Getting paid to travel and eat! Awesome.") but maybe I could give it a go..


I can't wrap my head around lasagna noodles as nachos. Why, why, WHY?

RK Fire

@thisisunclear I actually can understand it a bit: it's probably like fried ravioli. That being said, I'd imagine it's a pain in the ass.


A bar I frequent was on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and it let to a lot of great Yelp reviews about how it "wasn't what [they] expected!"

Dr Clownius

@meetapossum they did one on this bar here in austin that happens to serve amazing burgers and made it seem like a family-style restaurant, so people started showing up with their kids and were genuinely upset when they got turned away. it was pretty funny.

Miss Maszkerádi

I don't really get the white-hot burning hate so many people in the world have for Guy Fieri? I mean I think he's ridiculous, and I could probably only ever eat one bite each of the weird things he finds on his show, but he's kind of hilarious?


@Countess Maritza He seems mostly inoffensive to me. I think a lot of it is food-snobbery run amok, and I myself am kind of a food snob.

However, finding out that Melissa McCarthy based her Bridesmaid character of him makes the movie a million times more hilarious.


@Countess Maritza I just think he is the grossest eater I have ever seen. It's not even WHAT he eats, it's HOW he eats.


@Countess Maritza My absolute favorite part of Bridesmaids is how Melissa McCarthy patterned her character's speech patterns/outfits on him.

Beatrix Kiddo

@melis WHAT. That is amazing. How did I not know this? And does guy Fieri try to sleep with everyone?


@Beatrix Kiddo - I think basically everyone associated w/ the food industry tries to sleep w/ everyone.

Colonel Sanders was a himbo.


@Countess Maritza I'm not a food snob (though I do love me some kale) and though I wouldn't choose the spiky hair and flame-festooned shirts myself, I can't get myself het up about his personal appearance. No, the thing I don't like about him is the wacky, over-the-top, finger-gun atmosphere of his show. I watch food shows to relax, and I don't find him (or the editing) relaxing! Give me Baking with Julia any day... just as unhealthy, much less frenetic.

There is one Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives-approved place that I can wholeheartedly recommend myself: Tortilla Cafe on Capitol Hill in DC. Go there, order a burrito and some pupusas, and stuff your face under the beneficent gaze of Guy Fieri.

Um, WTF Interrobang

@Countess Maritza Tortilla Cafe is awesome. I would horde the little cups of pico that came with their takeout and then have a tortilla chip party for one.


@Countess Maritza I have a pretty low tolerance threshold for cutesy catchphrases, and his are particularly intolerable. Something about "getting on the bus to flavortown"? That should never be said by anyone, ever. I also am grumpy about the fact that the show, which could be a really fun love letter to Americana, often turns into Let's Watch Guy Shove Outrageous Shit Into His Maw Ten Times in Thirty Minutes.


@par_parenthese THIS. I point to the review that Madge linked above. Third-last paragraph: "But what makes Mr. Fieri truly reprehensible is that he’s exploited a mythology that appeals to the downtrodden to deliver unto them cholesterol and all its long-tail misery."

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@par_parenthese EXACTLY. What is with "flavortown"? How can someone invent a place supposedly filled with flavor, and yet I don't want to go to there?
It's like he throws as much idiocy into every bit of television he's on.

Also, he insists on pronouncing his last name the Italian way (although it's apparently spelled "Ferry"?) BUT he can't pronounce "balsamic." SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN.


@Countess Maritza I am not even from DC and I have eaten at Tortilla Cafe! And it is delicious!


Oh my GOD I am so glad there is a Hairpin post about this, I have been going out of my mind laughing, and also knowing that none of my close friends hate him enough that they would read the whole article and commiserate with me.

Basically: slow-clap, Hairpin. Slow-clap.

Um, WTF Interrobang

@Alli525 I tried to read the choicest bits aloud to my husband but he apparently doesn't know who Guy is(?!). So this post is making my day.


"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?"

Amazing. This is my favorite review of all reviews ever.


I like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Some of my favorite restaurants in the world (Valencia Luncheria in Norwalk, CT!) have been on that show. Sure, some of the food on there is like, "Here's fat on fat on fat on...sugar?!!," but a lot of it is/looks legitimately awesome to me. I think Fieri (and whoever picks his destinations) knows from good decadent food.

That's why I think Fieri had an opportunity to make a place people could enjoy here. Sure, it's in Times Square and meant for tourists, but are we not people who sometimes go eat at IHOP or Chili's or [your favorite chain restaurant] as a guilty pleasure and enjoy it? But he totally fucked it up! It sounds disgusting, top to bottom! He deserves all the scathing reviews he has coming to him! That's why I love this so.

Lisa Frank

@lindsayishere I feel kind of conflicted about this. One of my favorite diners (O'Rourkes in Middletown, Ct) was also on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. And I love that there's interest for these places. The last time I went there (Columbus Day) there was a line half way down the block waiting to get a table.
But one of my favorite Greek diners in NYC is going to be closing. The landlord is tearing down the building that it's in, and the diner owner can't find another space with reasonable rent. It's really a time capsule of working class New York, and I'm going to miss getting egg on a roll and listening to all the different languages that are being spoken between the workers and the customers. I do blame all of the chains and corporate restaurants that have come to New York (and all of the country frankly) that are forcing local businesses out.


@Lisa Frank I do totally agree! I'd always rather buy my bread at my neighborhood bakery than at Trader Joe's, and it's always so frustrating to hear stories like of your favorite diner. But if he's going to open a place in Times Square, where at this point independent places have long since been forced out... why not do it right? Because he just doesn't care and thinks it'll succeed either way? I guess it's silly to think otherwise.


@lindsayishere Which Greek diner in NY?


Guy Fieri is such a douche, and so gross and fake with the peroxide and gel. I don't understand why he is so ubiquitous.


Okay, fine, I'll adjust my opinion of Fieri based on him apparently being a nice guy.

But you guys--I've MADE the Pretzel Chicken Tenders, and they are indeed shit on a plate. Why he published a recipe like that (and did a show on it!) I will forever have no idea. He ruined pretzels. HOW DO YOU RUIN PRETZELS


ANY dude with sunglasses on the back of his neck is a certified douche, no second thought about it.


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