UPDATE Nov. 15, 2012: Fieri released a follow-up statement to E! News saying he "wholeheartedly" disagrees with the Times' critique of his restaurant.
"At my restaurants, we always try to live by a very simple notion: that food brings people together. I've learned that not everyone agrees with my style. The Times' critic, Pete Wells, clearly did not enjoy his experience. I normally do not respond to reviews or critics, however, given the tone of Pete's piece, it's clear to me that he went into my restaurant with his mind already made up," said the culinary master. "That's unfortunate. I take comments from patrons, fans and visitors very seriously, and if there is ever a problem with our service, we'll fix it."
Fieri argued that despite the negative portrait Wells paints for readers of Guy's American Kitchen & Bar, the reality in his view is much different.
"We've only been open a short while, but I've seen countless people come to my restaurant—families, fans, tourists, and yes, even New Yorkers—looking to get away for an hour or two, and they've had a great experience and a meal that they enjoyed," he added. "Like the thousands of diners, drive-ins and dives I've featured on my show, I've incorporated my passion and love for food into my restaurants. I'm proud of the food we put out, and always will be."
—Additional reporting by Baker Machado
Can you say harsh?
After his latest eatery, Guy's American Kitchen & Bar in New York's Times Square, earned one of the most scornful restaurant reviews to hit the pages of The New York Times, Guy Fieri is firing back hard, suggesting that the reviewer may have had an ulterior motive.
"I just thought it was ridiculous," Fieri told Savannah Guthrie on Thursday morning's Today show. "I mean, I've read reviews. There's good and bad in the restaurant business. But that, to me, went so overboard, it really seemed like there was another agenda. The tone, the sarcasm, the question style."
Fieri's measured retort came in response to the unusual skewering by Times food critic Pete Wells, whose assessment, cleverly titled "As Not Seen on TV," came in the form of some pretty barbed questions.
"Guy Fieri, have you eaten at your new restaurant in Times Square?" begins the appraisal. "Did you eat the food? Did it live up to your expectations?"
The 44-year-old food dude offered up a partial answer. In his Today sit-down, he stressed that he's been in the food business 25 years and acknowledged that getting a restaurant off the ground is an ever-evolving process.
"Do we do it perfect? No. Are we striving to do it perfect. Yes. That's what we're all doing in the business," Fieri said while chatting with Guthrie at his restaurant amid a smörgåsbord of the eatery's signature dishes (mmm...cedar-plank salmon!). "We were trying as hard as we can to make it right, do it right. We got a pretty big menu...so I think those will change. It's two months now. But let's see where we are in six months."
Here's a sampling of some of our favorite slams from the Times review that prompted Guy's damage control:
• "What exactly about a small salad with four or five miniature croutons makes Guy's Famous Big Bite Caesar (a) big (b) famous or (c) Guy's, in any meaningful sense?"
• "When you have a second, Mr. Fieri, would you see what happened to the black bean and roasted squash soup we ordered?"
• "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?"
• "How did nachos, one of the hardest dishes in the American canon to mess up, turn out so deeply unlovable?"
Wells subsequently rated Guy's American Kitchen & Bar "poor," and in terms of atmosphere, wrote, "the well-meaning staff seem to realize that this is not a real restaurant."
When asked by Guthrie if he had anything to say to the critic, Fieri quipped, "You're welcome," suggesting Wells was out to sensationalize his piece to get some publicity.
But the culinary guru and former game-show host held his ground: "I stand by my food and I stand by my team. We'll continue to do great."
If there's one saving grace, the restaurant is situated in Times Square, which should ensure a steady stream of tourists, if only so they can say they ate at Guy's.
(E! and Today are part of the NBCUniversal family.)
(Originally published Nov. 15, 2012 @ 7:15 a.m. PT)