November 14, 2013

Yahoo News

“The food was delicious, the service was good,” one woman said outside Guy Fieri’s Times Square restaurant one year after Pete Wells’ terrible review of Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar ran in The New York Times.

“Yeah, the food was amazing,” another woman said on a video Yahoo News posted Wednesday.

A few of those questioned outside the restaurant by Henry Baker were familiar with the review, asking question after question about the restaurant’s questionable food and service.

How did nachos, one of the hardest dishes in the American canon to mess up, turn out so deeply unlovable? Why augment tortilla chips with fried lasagna noodles that taste like nothing except oil? Why not bury those chips under a properly hot and filling layer of melted cheese and jalapeños instead of dribbling them with thin needles of pepperoni and cold gray clots of ground turkey?

By the way, would you let our server know that when we asked for chai, he brought us a cup of hot water?

Wells called the menu a whirling hypno wheel, “where adjectives and nouns spin in a crazy vortex.” But the customers Yahoo News spoke with weren’t that disoriented.

“If you can read, I don’t think it would be a problem,” one woman said.

The review, which ran one year and one day ago, went viral on social media, and got a response from Fieri himself, who appeared on “Today” to defend his restaurant. Wells spoke with Poynter about his review just after it ran, and later answered reader questions about it in the Times. Poynter also reported that the day the story ran, the Times ad staff hosted a large event at the restaurant.

So, would they go back? All said yes, including one woman who only had four days left on her visit to the city. And what would she tell Wells?

“He might know more about food than I do,” she said. “But for the ordinary person like me, I really enjoyed it.”

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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