Is Flavortown Now an Ironic Food Destination?

2012-09-11_12-20-14_751The existence of the phrase “Donkey sauce” didn’t really meet with much acclaim when our man Sam gave the place an ML treatment, doubly so at the anti-ML limit menu prices. With the brutal honesty of the NY Times impacting on the record of the Mayor of Flavortown, it’s apparently become a mecca for ironic dining.

What does the Donkey Saucer himself do in this case? He gets a fairly blatant-looking “interview” on Yelp in an attempt to restore foodie rep that he may or may not have had. Does his invocation of Saints Bourdain and Batali come across as a mea culpa or a transparent cred-grab? Would you eat food that tastes like your “drunk grandma would make for you on Thanksgiving” under the protective gaze of hate-eating even if it carried the veil of Williamsburg-scale irony?

27 Comments

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    They are going a $275 a head NYE party..

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    It is too bad that the food at this place is so horrible, not too mention expensive even for Times Sq.

    I am taking my family to the city in Jan to see Spiderman, and my kids would love to eat at Guy’s place.

    But based upon what I read, it seems the food is not even at the level of TGI’s.

  • @Joe, don’t get swooped into the Fieri bashing hype. There are a lot of people, including NY’ers, that still say the food is good. I have not been. The restaurant was meant for tourists, not upscale NYC dining.
    The food network stars appeal to a mass market more with their personalities than high end cooking (see: Paula Deen). Also explains why someone like Rachel Ray migrated to a talk show rather than opening up a restaurant. Aside from the chefs who were already establish before becoming FN stars (Flay, Battali, Emril), no other FN star has opened a major, commercialized restaurant. You can’t get more commercial than Times Square (Vegas is a close second). All these critics and poser-critics (like MJP above) keep it all in context first. At no point did Fieri or his marketing team every try to insinuate this place was up to Jean Georges standards.

    If your kids like him on TV, take them. Just think of all the kid friendly places in the city like Jeckyl & Hyde, Mars 2112, etc. The food suuuuuucks at those places but kids have fun.

    • What does saying he’s not trying to compare his place to Jean Georges have anything to do with it? Just because you aren’t striving for 4 stars doesn’t mean you should get away with terrible food, worse service and at a double the cost of Applebees. He clearly got a very large check for use of his image and persona and didn’t care about actually running the restaurant or ensuring it was halfway decent.

      Patronizing it just because you like Fieri is the worst thing you can do in my mind… It only encourages more shitty celeb restaurants and its pretty antithetical to this website which looks for good, cheap food in midtown. Maybe for lunch I’ll just go to Food Exchange and get an overpriced sandwich… sure its not good and its stupidly expensive for what you get, but hey, its close to my office.

    • The problem with the place is that the food isn’t up to the standards one would expect from a Guy who is a chef, and who celebrates comfort food done well (I’ll give him a pass on the pricing). If he really had his hand in this venture, and he wound up with mediocre-to-poor food, that’s not a good sign. No one ever, EVER said he should be opening a Michelin star-worthy place (but nice strawman).

      Rachael Ray was never a chef, so she would never open a restaurant with her name on it. Also, Paula Deen, hardly an established chef, delivers exactly what you’d expect in her major, commercialized restaurant in Savannah — well-made Southern comfort food, mostly fried — and the prices are in-line with the city.

      That said? Go anyway. Maybe the criticism was taken as somewhat constructive and the food has improved. At any rate, the kids aren’t going to criticize mac and cheese and burgers.

    • “Poser critics?” Ouch, tough crowd. Is it too late to apply for a critic license so I’m covered for tax year 2012?

  • I’m actually not a big fan of his. Nothing negative, just don’t have an opinion. I’ve watched 2 or 3 of his actual cooking shows and a few episodes of his DDD show. His personality is not my taste, but he doesnt come across like an @ss so I don’t hate.

    I don’t patronize him or the restaurant. And again, I haven’t been. But before NYT review, most reviews were mixed. And most prefaced it with an understanding that it just opened, and given its size, forgave some of the service & meal issues (like soggy fries).

    It just seems like, after the NYT, a major bandwagon was created to bash the place. When Shake Shack Times Square first opened, it was a nightmare. 1 month later it was fine. And that business model already existed. This guy opens one of the largest restaurants in NYC, in the most commercialized areas with the idea of creating an atmosphere relatable to his show, and with good food. The latter might need some improvement, and no, I don’t think bad food deserves a pass b/c it’s backed by a celeb. But I do think that it’s become a trend to simply bash it.

    • Actually, Sam went four times in two months. So he isn’t calling the place based on opening-night jitters.

      I like Guy, I understand what he’s trying to do on his shows, and that is why I am disappointed that his restaurant strays so far from the image he projects. The same thing happened with Neely’s, by the way — if they had anything to do with the mediocrity that passes for barbecue at their place on 61st, then they should also be ashamed. Sure, it’s “trendy” to bash the place now, but that doesn’t mean it’s not bashable.

      • If he went back 4 times, did he give a review each time? (Serious question, not trying to make a point). The only review mentioned above was his first (two dishes, one with zero commentary about how it tasted; just price).

      • Like all NYT dining reviews, the reviewer goes several times and comments on the overall experience as he sees fit. Often they’ll use word choices to let you know when, chronologically, certain things happened, or what was fixed on subsequent visits, and so forth. It’s plain from reading the review that subsequent visits didn’t fix the problems of previous visits.

      • Ohhhhhh, wait. I thought you meant Pete Wells, food critic at the NY Times. Sam Sifton being a NYT restaurant critic put your references to “Sam” automatically on the NYT world-famous review, not the ML review by Sam Kim on opening(ish?) day.

      • Yes, I was talking about ML Sam, not NYT Sam. ML Sam’s review was barely informative. It felt like he was there to simply bash the place.

  • Sorry MJP, I really like your posts. But you kinda jumped on the bandwagon on this too. Unless you have eaten there?

    Here’s my problem with this place having MULTIPLE posts on ML.com.

    1) There are constant comments about it not being in the ML price-zone. They never claimed this to be a budget friendly. It’s times square, even dirty water dogs are more expensive here. If someone wants to try it and post, great. But stop it with the “you can’t even get ___ for $10″. No rational person would epect it!

    2) The guy gives a shout out to Battali, who is probably a friend thanks to the FN connection. And you say he’s trying to earn cred? Also, Bourdain was brought up to him, not the other way around. Fieri basically admits he’s more of the vistor to NY then an expert foodie and that’s a bad thing?

    3) The review from Sam was another example of another critique clouded with a hidden agenda. He went only a week into opening, right. And every line (in his timeline) was condescending with hardly any substance. ie “Here’s what $15 nachos looks like”. Ok, that’s a fairly standard TSQ priced appetizer of nachos with a protein. But how did it taste??? Unless he actually vomitted, I have to think it was OK. Next, he again focuses on price and how many chicken parms he can get at another place for the same place. No sh!t, Sherlock. Then it’s onto the burger which all he says is it has no flavor. Was it missing salt and pepper? simply overcooked? not a good beef blend? anything of substance and I’d listen. finding mediocre ways to bash the place without substance…sorry I don’t consider it a legit review.

    So often on ML, you guys go to the nth detail on the food. And that’s why we love the site. I know exactly what I’ll get if I’m choosing between Trini Paki, Kwik, or the Imposter Cart. People want to hate this place because it’s more about commercialization than high quality. Understandable, I agree. but the utter bashing for the sake of trend is getting annoying.

    • Hidden agenda? Because he paid full price and received crappy food? If they charging people full price, the NY Times has every right to review them. I hate the pathetic excuses that places just open. If you can’t execute your cooking, you either shouldn’t open yet or heavily discount your food. Not to mention, Sifton went there at least 3 times yet nothing changed…

      The review might have been harsh but Sifton does need to entertain his readers. And who cares if he didn’t say the burger was flavorless because it wasn’t seasoned with salt or was made using mass produced factory blended ground beef. Flavorless is flavorless. I took the following very substantial points in his review…

      Service is terrible, from the hostesses seemingly not caring to a sure fire miscommunication between the kitchen, waitstaff and busboys results in cold food delivered far too frequently and entrees arriving in the middle of eating appetizers.

      The cooks can’t cook the food properly or even put all the elements on the plate. Things were often unseasoned and greasy.

      You seem to go over the top defending Fieri, so maybe you have a hidden agena?

      • I’m not defending him as much as I’m just tired of all the bashing and I would have thought by now, ML would be done with it. It never was or will be a ML lunch spot because of the price and mere fact that it’s a touristy sit-down restaurant. Otherwise why haven’t we seen a Dave & Busters or Bubba Gump review? (ps – those fail the $10 guideline too. Shocker!)
        And what do you mean by paying/charging “full price”? Should they be discounting his bill if he’s going to give a review?
        I agree that when places open, they should be truly ready. And that excuse only lasts so long. But again, many people who – after the NYT etc reviews – came back saying service was fine. These coming from commenters on yelp etc.

  • i agree more with username303. its guy fieri, its times square, what do you expect? and ive been there, its not bad. its nothing to write home about, i only had some apps late night, but joestein, if your kids would like to go there then go. judge for yourself. ive definitely eaten worse.

  • also, the service wasnt bad, the place was remarkably clean (especially the bathrooms), and if you want to chalk that up to being a new restaurant, well then chalk it because thats a plus, especially in times square.

  • also, joestein, it’s interesting that you’re taking your kids to see spiderman, something that seems overpriced and somewhat poorly reviewed, but won’t take them to guy fieri’s, something that is also overpriced and somewhat poorly reviewed.

  • Has anyone here actually gone there? I admit I do enjoy his show, but I can’t bring myself to go there, mainly due to the prices.

    • I can’t justify it for the same reasons when I could seriously gorge myself at Go Go Curry, Minar, or even Shake Shack for half the cost of an entree.

      • But I would go and try the burger ironically, because I am a hipster.

        Okay, I wouldn’t, because of reasons.

      • But you’re not comparing apples to apples. That’s like saying you wouldn’t go to 5 Napkin because you could get 10 cheeseburgers from McDonalds for the same price. hy go to Molyvos when you can get a gyro at a cart for 20% of the price? This place should have never even been on the radar of budget-friendly lunches and again hits my point that people have focused too much on bashing the place rather than just moving on.

      • No, maybe not, but I think all the places I mentioned have some sort of following or at least a semblance of recognition as a good midtown eatery.

      • @cheese…no doubt! I love Minar’s lunch buffet, and shake shack is my favorite burger. Haven’t been to GoGo Curry but yes, the following is there.

      • The apples-to-apples comparison would be to take the places Guy Fieri champions — which were also his stated reasons for wanting to open this place — and compare what they turn out to what comes from the Times Square kitchen. I could live with a price differential between a loaded burger in the middle of Tennessee to the same thing in NYC, but only if the quality isn’t compromised. Price isn’t the only yardstick here; it’s the disillusioned “and they charge you out the ass for this dreck!” final nail.

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.