I’m sure New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells doesn’t need my validation of his scathing review of Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen & Bar. But last Thursday I decided to give it a try. It wasn’t a premeditated meal, it was purely spontaneous act. I’d gone to New York to see some plays and stayed near Times Square because I wanted to be able to walk to the theaters. I had no interest in doing anything else except read and sleep. I wanted to rest my palate and stay away from fine dining. That’s easy to do in Times Square. However, my friend and I passed Fieri’s 500-seat behemoth of a restaurant several times a day and we couldn’t resist trying it out.
I’ll be brief: three of us sat down at 1:30 on Thursday and there were 28 people in the restaurant. We split an order of egg rolls, a hamburger, and a bowl of tortilla soup. I spit out the one bite I took of the eggroll. The consistency of the meat was mushy, almost liquid like regurgitated cat food. The $18.50 burger MAY have had a quarter pound of meat somewhere between those thick buns with a bouffant of iceberg lettuce strands created by running it through a meat slicer which is pure lettuce abuse.
I realize Fieri has helped a lot of mom and pop restaurants get huge boosts in their business after appearing on his Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I’m sure underneath all of that Paul Dean-style jargon such as “Go Big or Go Home” encouraging diners to eat fried food there is an artery-clogged heart of gold, but his investors can’t be too happy with the crap coming out of the kitchen. Or the fact that the restaurant was dead every time we passed it. The swag shop alone is bigger than most Dallas restaurants. American Kitchen & Bar feels like it’s trying to be the new Hard Rock Café. If you find yourself staying in a hotel in Times Square and you pass the place four times a day, stay away. You’re better off at Carmine’s next door.