As you guys know, I non-ironically love Guy Fieri. His unabashed love of embroidered flame shirts. His bleach blonde locks. His phraseology. God, the phraseology. Full throttle!
My BFF Stowe and I share this love. So on my most recent trip to New York, he and I decided to hit up Guy’s first Manhattan restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen.
Stowe regreted our decision immediately. Understandable. He was not as drunk as I was.
Stowe: This is the most hipster thing we’ve done.
Stowe: Because people there will be genuinely enjoying themselves and we’re going…
Me:…to make fun of it?
If I may be so bold, this was one of the worst meals I’ve ever had in New York City.
Now, it wasn’t all bad. In fact, I can give you two positives of my experience.
- The service was good. The restaurant was very full for a mid-afternoon on a Saturday (fucking Times Square), so we sat at the bar. Our bartender was attentive, but not intrusive, and our food and drinks came out quickly.
- The space was tastefully decorated, especially when you consider the source. The restaurant is huge–it seats 500+ people at a time and they turn the tables often (fucking Times Square). But it was very actually kind of pretty. They had some wallpaper in the women’s bathroom that I really rather liked. Also, they had TVs in the women’s restroom so I could keep up with the college football games. PHEW. Can’t miss a second of that College Game Day action. Go, Sports Team!
Onto the many, many negatives. Starting with the worst offender: the food.
- We ordered 3 apps to share: The California Egg Rolls, the Dragon Chili Cheese Fries, and the Buffalo Bleu-Sabi wings. The egg rolls were easily the best thing that we ate because they were served hot and tasted fine. The Dragon Chili Cheese Fries would’ve been good, guilty pleasure bar food. But instead, they were served stone cold. Should we have sent them back? Yes. But, we wanted an authentic experience. Don’t worry, we ate them anyway because our third app, the Buffalo Bleu-Sabi wings, was inedible. These are Buffalo wings made with a house made buffalo sauce that tasted sour or rancid. Something had gone terribly, terribly wrong. When I asked Stowe how they tasted and he said, “I’m going to let you be the judge for yourself.” Not a ringing endorsement.
- We each ordered a margarita. I got the Classic and Stowe got the Caliente Margarita, a spicy margarita made with jalapeno and cilantro. Mine was a decent margarita; not the best I’d ever had, but decent. Stowe’s came with so much cilantro in it that I looked away at one point, and when I looked back, he was tangled up in it like seaweed.
- We each ordered a house-brewed beer. I got the Morgan’s Red Ale and Stowe got the Golden State Lager. Mine tasted like skunky Newcastle. His tasted like skunky Yuengling. It might’ve been, for all we know. We poo-poo the Guy-brew.
These three mostly terrible appetizers and four drinks cost $93.09 before tip. Frankly, it could’ve been worse. It’s NYC and Times Square, to boot. If the food and drinks had been better, I wouldn’t have minded shelling out the cash.
I wish I was writing this telling you that my mind was blown. That my socks were knocked off. That my tips were bleached. (Admittedly, that one didn’t make sense.) I really wanted all my pre-conceived notions to be wrong. But, of course, my expectations were correct. New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells quite rightly trashed the joint in 2012.
Will I go back to Guy’s American Kitchen again? Not for all the flame shirts and bleach blonde dye in the world.
All future visits to Flavortown will be on TV and TV only.
Guy’s American Kitchen is located at 220 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036. But please, go literally anywhere else.
Some photos from our visit. Hover for captions.