Over the past two days, the now-infamous New York Times review of Guy Fieri's new 500 seat Times Square restaurant Guy's American Kitchen & Bar caught fire across the Twittersphere, blogs, morning shows and even David Letterman's Top 10, but the boisterous, spike-coiffed chef remained uncharacteristically silent, until now.
Fieri said in a statement released by his PR reps:
"I wholeheartedly disagree with The New York Times' Review of Guy's American Kitchen & Bar. My philosophy on life is what drives my attitude towards food. As a kid, I used to make four-course sushi meals for my parents and our family friends. I got hooked on food because I saw the way people reacted; the atmosphere around a family dinner, dining out with friends and family -- it was contagious."
"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. That's unfortunate. I take comments from patrons, fans and visitors very seriously, and if there is ever a problem with our service, I'll fix it."
"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. Like the hundreds 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."
Yesterday, we asked our readers, "Does a bad restaurant review in a high-profile publication sway your opinion?" Over 10,500 people weighed in. By the numbers:
- No, I'll go if I want to 39.68%
- Yes, I appreciate the warning 28.4%
- I might actually want to go to see if it is actually that bad 15.71%
- It might cause me to evaluate other options 14.86%
- Other 1.35%
And commenters served up a hefty portion of opinion.
I'll take a double shot of nope, please
- A bad review from a professional restaurant critic is generally a good sign that it's not that bad. Food critics tend to be and like all flash and no substance. If not, then why should one shrimp on a bed of endive cost $100. - Steve Giles
- Like I care what some elitist foodie thinks. I'd give much more weight to a review by joe six pack. - Edwin
- The snobbish, elitists food critic is a relic of days gone by. A long forgotten dinosaur with no fossil to be found. They were needed when the "Internet's" didn't exist and people waited with fevered anticipation for the newspaper to arrive. - bazingaD
- I decide whether I like a restaurant or not based on my taste, not the taste of a food critic or a master chef. There are plenty of food items that I don't like that may other people do. Would I still try Guy's restaurant after the review? Sure. Would I return just because it IS Guy's restaurant even if I did not like it? No. The same would be true for a multiple Michelin star restaurant. I know that based on public persona I would really like to kick back and have a beer with Michael Symon, Guy Fieri and Alton Brown... Pete Wells? Not so much... who wants to hang out with someone who criticizes everybody... :-) Note: I do not know any of the players in real life, so it may well be that Symon, Fieri and Brown are all elitist and Wells is a grounded nice guy... but since the chance of me actually getting to know any of them is slight I guess it doesn't matter any more than the review does. - naturalistdiverted
Please sir, may I have some more?
- And well, if Wells had that bad of an experience, then the restaurant should do an assessment and make damn sure no one has an experience like that again. - Mildred
- I suggest a good critic is able to appreciate those subtle differences, but what makes them good isn't being able to do so per se but rather the ability to then communicate what those differences are and why they matter. Or, to put it another way, to educate the readers and help them/us become more knowledgeable and discerning ourselves. - John
- I only let the professional food critics affect my choice of restaurants when I'm going for something really special and expect to spend a significant amount of time and money on the experience. Otherwise, at a place like Guy's? Not at all. - Tesarra
Maybe, if I still have room
- I'm all for taking professional reviews with a grain of salt, whether they be for movies, food, or some other service... but who are these people who
comprise the majority (!) of poll respondents above that happily spend their hard-earned money on food described, in detail, as disgusting, limp, ghostly, inept, and gross? I've gladly eaten at restaurants or seen movies I was interested in despite a lukewarm review, but my cash is too scarce to risk for the sake of "sticking it to" an "elitist" journalist. I appreciate the warning. - MichaelJ
- I thought the review was hysterical and I agree with his point: It's not that the concept is low brow, it's that the food wasn't any good. I love a good Mac & Cheese or plate of nachos as much as anyone but if they're bad, they're bad! As for your poll, I would never go to a Guy Fieri restaurant anyway, so while funny, the review didn't change my opinion. - Mark Rabinowitz
- Depends on who the critic is, honestly. I don't agree with all critics, and even specific criticisms of those I like, especially when you base it on an overall collection of reviews. Dining, ordering, and eating are incredibly subjective processes and an "experience eater" has a unique palate tuned to certain levels of salt, acid, spice, etc. of their own preference. But, when it comes to the finer points, I'm usually (internally) haggling over a star or so. - Michelle
I'll just stand on line
- I use Yelp and Trip Advisor's reviews more than professional reviews - winterfling
- I'm WAYYYYYY more persuaded by actual consumer reviews like people on Yelp than I am with professional food critics. Food critics aren't looking for the same things that regular people who actually love to eat are looking for. - Adrian
- Before going to a place I've never been before, I will browse online reviews from regular people. I trust their opinion and tastes more than a professional food critic. Same with movies -- critics will often slam and hate movies that the general public really enjoys.
- I'll read the comments by the people that ate there and see if opinions are largely positive or negative, and also the reasoning behind it. Unless it's overwhelmingly negative by the vast majority of people, I won't steer away from the restaurant.
- From my own past experience, I've eaten at places where a lot of online reviews sucked, but the place actually turned out to be very good.
- You just can't trust the internet. - Mark