Last week I met a friend for dinner in Times Square. Every New Yorker knows better, but it was a convenient location… and I was sort of looking for an excuse to check out Guy Fieri’s new restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar. The verbal dismemberment of the menu by The New York Times’ Pete Wells had piqued my interest. (All press is good press, eh?) So I made an unnecessary reservation for 6pm and began trolling the web for reviews so I could develop a basis of expectations.
The menu was packed with meaty American dishes, most of which seemed to come slathered in sauce. This is not my usual genre of food, but I can appreciate a good burger; and it all complemented the beer menu, the most exciting section of the menu as “Guy’s Beers” are all brewed in house.
First impression of the place was the sheer size – 500 or so seats. It had a mixed rustic and biker feel. We got a table in a quiet corner and our server – a very cute guy — promptly made some beer recommendations, brought our drinks and answered my usual tirade of inquiries about the menu. We asked for “a couple minutes” to make our final decisions…
…and that was it. From this point on, we might as well have been serving ourselves.
It took the cute server about 15 minutes to return, of which we spent half of looking around in wonderment. My friend put it best, “His tip is on the decline.”
On the list of positives, the food was remarkably fast, and just as we were about to dig in, my friend’s husband showed up. We immediately began scanning the room for the server to put another beer and food order in, figuring it was customary for him to pop up to check in our meal, no?
Nope. He had again disappeared from existence. This time we did not wait for him to redeem himself, and after fifteen minutes assigned another server with the mission of tracking down waiter-of-the-year.
He returned diligently with a smile as if he was right on schedule. We ordered another round of beer and as our newcomer was perusing the menu, server extraordinaire mumbled something and jetted off.
Hmmmm, I guess he is going to replenish the beers while newcomer decides which saucy animal meat he wants to devour.
Another fifteen minutes…
My friend finally got up to hunt him down herself. We had enough beer in us that we were not tolerating this anymore. He must have sensed our aggrevation because she practically walked into him as she left the table. He rambled something about having to go downstairs to fix the beer — which considering the size of the place may have taken that long, but it was still a lame excuse for forgetting about us… again!
Newcomer was beyond upset and hesitant to order food but waiter-of-the-year insisted it would be fast.
It was. They definitely have a solid food production line downstairs.
Cute server did come back promptly after the second round of food arrived to check-in, and then returned with the check and to collect his money before we could run out.
At this point he had already blown it though. Nothing he could do could redeem the experience. He might have been able to redeem 30 percent of the experience if he had bluntly acknowledged his poor memory of us and apologized, but no go.
On a completely different note, the food was pretty good. Not moan-worthy, but very very good. I ordered two appetizers – the Spicy Roasted Tomato Soup and the Chipotle BBQ Pork Soft Tacos
The soup had a kick that I really liked, but I would probably not order it again because I could make it myself. The pork tacos on the other hand were excellent. There was just the right balance of flavor of Cojita cheese and cilantro and lime.
My friend had the burger which she really enjoyed, however commented that it was hard to taste the quality of the meat because it was covered in so much sauce; and her husband ordered the ribs – which I snuck a taste of because it is one of their specialities, and one of my favorite dishes – and they were GOOD. Whatever is in Guy’s Signature BBQ sauce is a winning combo. I am a fan.
The beer selection were also impressive. They only have a handful on the menu but the Morgan’s Red Ale that the waiter suggested to me based on my vague preference was outstanding.
Overall the experience was ok. I was not expecting a Michelin star, but I had more hope in the service. The food did impress me more than my expectations were prepared for, and the beer made up for where the food lacked; I would definitely return for drinks at the bar.
So, while this says nothing about grocery, I hope everyone catches the loud and clear message.
SERVICE! SERVICE! SERVICE!
… and if you are in Times Square and hungry for pork tacos, I recommend Guy’s… but only if you have a long time to spare.