Friday, January 4, 2013

Guy's American Kitchen and Bar

Recently, I was given the chance to eat the Guy's American Kitchen and Bar. To be honest, it was a departmental holiday lunch paid by my company. Did I pay for my meal? No. Did the restaurant pay for it? No. Now that I got that disclaimer out of the way...
Although Guy's Fieri's restaurant wasn't my first or any choice, I begrudgingly went anyway. I know all of you have heard or even read the NY Times scathing review. I don't have to anything more to add to that. But I was given the chance to judge the food, service, and decor on my own. I really didn't want to and made all the excuses I could to avoid it. But peer pressure and guilt from several friends and coworkers changed my mind. Sure, I went in with prejudices already in mind but I love it when places prove me wrong in the right way. Would this Guy's American Kitchen be one of them?

When we arrived, the hostess met our party and led us to the back to a very long table set for 17 people. I looked around the space and it was vast. So many tables and so much space. I'm glad I won't be elbow to elbow with fellow diners. The decor was something else though. To be frank, I didn't like it. Nothing about it represented Americana to me. It was random pieces of "art" hung on the walls. It was loud, bright, and kind of obnoxious. It fed into the stereotype of what the US is believed to be by  many foreigners: a toolbag of a country. If they wanted kitschy then this was it on steroids. I'm not even sure if they could tone it down to a reasonable level. I could have gone without all the guitars, murals, catchphrases, and blaring televisions hooked to the Food Network. But I did notice one photograph right by my table of Yoko Ono and John Lennon which was very tasteful. That I liked.
The one waitress to our large party was very nice. She took everyone's food and drink order without mistake and answered any questions I had with friendly remark. The only gripe I had about her was that she didn't refill the water glasses even when empty. An official request had to be made. The busboys, on the other hand, needed a bit more work. When the food came out, they didn't know where anything should go. I wasn't sure if it was miscommunication but waitstaff usually write down orders in a certain manner to indicated where a person is sitting. This strategy was thrown out the window when the food came. We had to listen intently to their broken English to flag down our own dish. Yeah, that needs some work.

To start off, we shared a bunch of appetizers for the table. Provolone Stix ($12), Sashimi Tacos ($15), Chipotle BBQ Pork Soft Tacos ($13), Rhode Island Calamari ($14), Sweet & Sticky Wings ($14), and Seasoned Fries ($7) rounded the table for everyone to share. Due to recent major dental work, I could only eat very soft foods. I took a Sashimi taco and picked out the tuna. It was heavily marinated so I couldn't detect the subtleties of the fish but it was packed with a lot of soy sauce flavor. Too much in my opinion. If they're boasting high quality fish then they should let the natural flavors shone mostly on their own.

For my entree, I had the General Tso's Pork Shank ($24) since the waitress confirmed that it was pretty soft and easy to eat. I opted to switch out the rice pilaf for mashed potatoes. My food came out with the bus boys and I had to pinpoint the one with mashed potatoes. Some plate switching needed to be done on my own but I eventually got my correct order. I'd like to first point out that this dish was really big. Not just "I'm a big person and can eat a lot big". I mean it can feed 2-3 people big. I dug into the pork with my fork and it separated from the bone easily. It was certainly soft. I tasted a piece with the General Tso's sauce and disliked it. The sauce was too sweet and tasted artificial. Once I got past the crust, I came to a relatively okay tasting piece of pork. It had a porky flavor and was well seasoned. The mashed potatoes were creamy and very easy to eat. I was fine with those. I didn't touch the roasted vegetables (too soft) nor the pickled vegetables on top (too hard). Altogether, I probably only ate 1/3 of this dish. If I were feeling better and if it tasted better, I'd probably be able to eat 1/2 of it.

As we all sat and chatted, the manager came over and introduced himself. Why not schmooze with the guy paying with the corporate card? I would too. It's good business. We found out that he also manages Heartland Brewery and that this restaurant is affiliated with it. I'm not sure if Guy Fieri only lent his name and food ideas. But I don't this place is wholly owned by Guy Fieri. Neither his website nor the restaurant's website confirms or disproves this. If you know further information, please comment and I'll make a correction.

After everything was said and done, Guy's American Kitchen & Bar was just another chain restaurant to me. It doesn't have good nor terrible food, it had mediocre food. However, I want to reiterate that I did not try a good variety of items. I only tasted 2 things and neither one in its entirety. With that said, I won't be a returning customer. I'm just not a fan of these touristy, chain-like restaurants. I'd much rather walk over 1-2 blocks for good food. But if you're a Guy Fieri fan (and I know there are many of you out there), you'd enjoy this place.

Guy's American Kitchen and Bar
220 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
(646) 532-4897


  1. "Nothing about it represented Americana to me ... It was loud, bright, and kind of obnoxious."

    This is America in a nutshell.

    This Heartland Brewery news is new to me though. They might manage everything though e.g. staffing etc.

    1. Certainly some parts of the US are like that but as a whole I do not believe so.

  2. Ugh, browser ate my first attempt.

    I was aware of the Heartland affiliation, but the was Guy stridently defends the place there's got to be more than just his name sunk into the place. Over all, you're cementing my impression that this is just another boring tourist restaurant in Times Square (but that's about all that can survive there).

    I'm still amused that the only "americana" on the wall that you could stand, was a photograph of non-Americans.

    1. But I remain convinved that the Merchants NY-Neelys affiliation ends with their name on the place.

    2. Weren't they permanent residents?

  3. funny that when the place first opened, i said i would give it a try once no matter what. the reviews and prices quickly put the kibosh on it.

    i would go if it was free.

    at least your expectations were low, haha

  4. It seems like it could be worth a try but not on my dime. Maybe on my penny.


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