In Defense of Guy Fieri
Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar: GABK. Sounds great when you say that acronym out loud. And gotta say, a bunch of friends and I had fuckin’ blast this week when we descended on the much-maligned Times Square eatery for a little Guy-style grub.
This place was jumping. Right when you set your eyes on the restaurant you are immediately blasted with videos of Guy doin' his thing outside the front entrance. Look up, and you see huge pics of Guy lookin’ suave towering up to the sky. When I got there Tuesday night, I rushed to the men's room, and there was a FLAT SCREEN TV with SPORTS in the john! I was stoked.
Got a seat ASAP at the bar and had some of the bomb-ass beer on tap made specifically for Guy's place. They told us there’d be 25-minute wait. Got a table half way through the first beer!
Our waiter Mike was so on point. He came to our table right away and went over the whole menu, highlighting his faves along the way. He knew each dish's ingredients as well as a little history about their origins. Turns out Mike and many of his co-workers had been personally educated on the menu by Guy himself. He wasted NO time in asking us if we needed some more drinks. “Check this bad boy,” said Mike as he handed us the drink menu. Mike got pumped when my friend McGaff ordered a Coors Light even though he still had half a pint of his first beer to drink. It should be noted that the second beers arrived at our table immediately, before our first round was finished!!!!! Holy shit we were pumped.
We ordered the Vegas Fries and learned that the dish was inspired by Guy's college days. Guy was so poor that he'd order fries at a bar a mix together whatever condiments were free as a flavor enhancer. Wow. We were blown away with that nugget of knowledge and ordered the dish ASAP. Within the “Ain't No Thing But a Chicken Wing” section of the appetizers, Mike recommended the Bourbon Brown Sugar Wings, tossed in Guy's signature Bourbon Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce. Turns it had also won an award (no additional detail of the award provided). Did we order those too? C'mon... Had to.
The apps came out pronto and commanded the attention of the room as they passed by. Vegas fries!!! Triple fried, covered with Buffalo sauce and served with Blue-sabi (that’s right blue wasabi!) dipping sauce. Mike addressed the infamous New York Times review by explaining that this dish has come out of the kitchen cold in the past because of the Sabi sauce, but that they'd fixed the prob. He was right. We crushed the Vegas.
Then my friend Rachael showed up. Mike said, “It's time to start the party,” and gave her a drink menu. She ordered the South Beach Mojito, described by Mike as “a Bacardi party in your mouth.” Bonus points. The drink came out ASAP, and it tasted like a liquid grape flavored Jolly Rancher. Rachael couldn't handle its power, so I slammed it.
Then my boy Kevie showed up. Mike brought a chair over and casually turned our four top into a five without giving a fuck. Kevie ordered a Guy's Margarita de la Casa, and Rachael ordered a Caliente Margarita garnished with limes and jalapenos! We ordered more beers for the rest of us.
Dinner time. I noticed that certain dishes had Guy's funky little “Guy” signature next to them on the menu. So I asked Mike what the deal was. He said those were Guy's hand picked highlights but that we shouldn't just stick to those items.
Rachael explained that she's a veggie. Mike pointed to the Baked Garden Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce and Basil. That was Guy's deceased sister Morgan's favorite dish. She is also tattooed on Guy's arm with the word “Namaste” underneath. Mike really knows his shit. McGaff got the Guy's Big Bite Burger with Super Melty Cheese and Donkey Sauce. Mike informed us that all burgers are brought out medium well, for health reasons. My friend Jeff got the Tequila Turkey Fettuccini (Guy's wife's fave). Rachael got the Sashimi Tacos (wonton shell, so bomb). There were only two choices under the "Winner Winner Chicken Dinner" section, but figuring out what to get was still pretty tough. I chose the Huli Huli Roasted Chicken in Hawaiian BBQ sauce alongside Fancy-ass Rice, Crispy Onion Straws, and Mango Slaw. HUGE. Kevie got another margarita and let us know that the dining room's lighting was on point.
A manager named Kim came over and heard that we were having a great time, boozing hard and taking notes for some type of review. We bonded instantly over our frustration with the inaccurate New York Times review. She said of the Sashimi tacos: "Some people say they wouldn't feed those to their cats, but this kitty will eat it all day. Meow." Then she bought us a round of drinks. HELLO??? A round of drinks on the casa??? We pretty much had butt sex right there.
McGaff's burger was a classy and culinary reenactment of McDonald's Big Mac—in the best way possible. Mind boggling and fucking delish. Said Jeff and Kevie in unison: “We received the perfect manifestation of a Philistine art piece when we were served the Big Mac. It was an American splendor, and we enjoyed it.”
Started getting pretty wasted, laughing a lot and interacting with our neighbors. Some of them were British cougars. Mike called me his “main man.” Felt pretty good about that. Mike asked if I was finished with my Huli Huli. He laughed real loud when I said, “I KO'd it.” When my dish was cleared, Mike said “Huli Huli see ya later.”
Had to get dessert. Even though the Triple Double Pie was made with Junior Mints (!!!!!), we opted for the Baked Alaska. Mike called it a “boulder of goodness,” and the menu said there was Nilla Wafers in it. We ordered a Pirate Jack cocktail too: Honey Jack, Absolut Vanilla, Bailey's, Rum Raisin. That was a Mike recommendation. He nailed it again. Kevie said he'd go ape-shit if that cocktail was still on the menu in the summer. Mike erupted in a great big belly laugh.
Fucking amazing job by the server, manager, kitchen, men's bathroom, and the Guy himself. Never had a better night out in my life. Cancelled my subscription to the Times. They're losin' it these days anyways.
(Photos by Jeff Church)