Diners, Drive-ins and Disasters [Reader Post]

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A week ago Saturday may wife, my sister, my brother-in-law and I drove into New York City for a meal at Carmine's on 44th and 6th. We've been there many times and always have a great time. One needs to understand how the food is served (family style) before ordering and and that you'll need a suitcase to carry home the leftovers but it is dependably terrific.

I dropped everyone off on 44th in front of a parking garage (that cost us $40 for the 6 hours we would be there but hey, it's NYC) within 50 yards or so of Carmine's. It also happened to be directly across from Guy's American Kitchen and Bar. A disclosure needs to be made- I frequently watch “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” It tends to be a diversion ifrom the routine and once in a while one can pick up some convenient cooking tips from those Guy visits. Guy pronounces his last name “Fieddi” or “Fietti.” His real name is Guy Ferry but “fieri” sounds so much more “en fuego.” Fieri translates into “proud” from Italian. “Ferry” is most likely Irish.

Fieri has been described both in positive and negative terms.

I honestly have no idea which is more accurate.

He's been successful, having opened several Johnny Garlic's and Tex Wasabi restaurants. But a NY Times review of his place in Times Square hit me right between the eyes.

GUY FIERI, have you eaten at your new restaurant in Times Square? Have you pulled up one of the 500 seats at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar and ordered a meal? Did you eat the food? Did it live up to your expectations?

Did panic grip your soul as you stared into the whirling hypno wheel of the menu, where adjectives and nouns spin in a crazy vortex? When you saw the burger described as “Guy’s Pat LaFrieda custom blend, all-natural Creekstone Farm Black Angus beef patty, LTOP (lettuce, tomato, onion + pickle), SMC (super-melty-cheese) and a slathering of Donkey Sauce on garlic-buttered brioche,” did your mind touch the void for a minute?

Did you notice that the menu was an unreliable predictor of what actually came to the table? Were the “bourbon butter crunch chips” missing from your Almond Joy cocktail, too? Was your deep-fried “boulder” of ice cream the size of a standard scoop?

What exactly about a small salad with four or five miniatur

e croutons makes Guy’s Famous Big Bite Caesar (a) big (b) famous or (c) Guy’s, in any meaningful sense?

Wow. And more to come.

Hey, did you try that blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste? The watermelon margarita? Any idea why it tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde?

At your five Johnny Garlic’s restaurants in California, if servers arrive with main courses and find that the appetizers haven’t been cleared yet, do they try to find space for the new plates next to the dirty ones? Or does that just happen in Times Square, where people are used to crowding?


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?

When you hung that sign by the entrance that says, WELCOME TO FLAVOR TOWN!, were you just messing with our heads?

Does this make it sound as if everything at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar is inedible? I didn’t say that, did I?

Anthony Bourdain was equally demeaning of Fieri:

I'm fascinated by the Guy Fieri terror-dome they just opened up. 600 seats, something like that? 600 seats. And a gift shop. And all of these poor diners, drives and whatever, douchebags waddle in there. First of all, he single handedly turned the neighborhood into the Ed Hardy district which I'm a little pissed off about.

But all of these poor bastards see him eating cheap food on TV, they go in there and it's what $18? For a fucking hamburger? The french fries are like $12? By the time you buy a drink you're out of there for what?

I tell you what, that guy has set back spelling like two decades. All these kids trying to spell “kewl” with a K.

Then again, I think Bourdain is a self-absorbed prick. I watch “No Reservations” but it's the cinematography that makes the show. Todd Liebler was really good but Zach Zamboni is galactically talented.

There's more about Guy, but I am not sure I can be looking for you on Diners Drive-ins and Disasters. I haven't eaten there but for now I am sticking with Carmine's.


DrJohn has been a health care professional for more than 30 years. In addition to clinical practice he has done extensive research and has published widely with over 70 original articles and abstracts in the peer-reviewed literature. DrJohn is well known in his field and has lectured on every continent except for Antarctica. He has been married to the same wonderful lady for over 30 years and has three kids- two sons, both of whom are attorneys and one daughter on her way into the field of education. DrJohn was brought up with the concept that one can do well if one is prepared to work hard but nothing in life is guaranteed. Except for liberals being foolish.

11 Responses to “Diners, Drive-ins and Disasters [Reader Post]”

  1. 1

    Scott in Oklahoma

    Dr. John, come on out here to Oklahoma for a visit. Eat at the original, still privately owned (not a chain) Cattleman’s Steakhouse. They’ve been open for over 100 consecutive years. For lunch, eat at the buffet at the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum. Hang out here for a while, you’ll not want to go back to NYC… just sayin’ :-) And we still have working, horse ridin’ cowboys here too.

  2. 2


    So ya di-ent like it? Personally, I don’t eat dat shit. I prefer an open-air market in Hoochi Koochi Land, an exotic 3rd word country I just made up. One requirement: good beer.

  3. 3


    Hey — where are ya all? — something to talk about here besides the crap in DC, the “District of Criminals — that seems to have morphed into – District of Communists”

    I have enjoyed all the D, D and Dives episodes I have seen and envy the really regionally unique places and food items and styles out there — esp. southwest – south – northeast and midwest — and the _”uppa U-S” — heh heh — a lot of which isn’t even imitated here in the imaginaryly great Pac-NW (well at least as far as restaurants go — we have our own regionally developed (and developing!) places here — but really — nothing like the 50-100+ year old places – most family owned/operated – several generations – that Guy showcases all over the country, including CA — I really envy some of the places and basic – “AMERICAN and “AMERICAN / ETHNIC”” fuud out there — that said two things:

    First — we have a great ethnic food diversity here (Seattle) — AND — within 2 miles of where I am sitting and typing this — I can purchase All ingredients for all cuisines from around the world — a few miles further – all European (East and West) and ALL Mediterranean — from deli’s that are specialists for their communities.

    Second — I am disappointed in the reported 500 seat restaurant noted here — and even that he has a chain of yuppily named restaurants in CA — since I had only heard about the one I believe – in Santa Rosa — why doesn’t he show us what HIS dives are like — especially the one in Times Square –?? hmmm?

    My guess is that all he has in the Times Square restaurant is his first name!

  4. 4

    FAITH 7

    I never ate at one of his places…yet. However, Guy has a few products on the store shelves and they ‘are’ very good…I only recently tried some of them…

    I especially like his 7 Pepper Salsa tasty and has a little ‘bite’ to it in hotness. I use but, can’t always find, his Pacific Rim BBQ and Wok Sauce AND I have purchased his Carolina #6 Mop and Slop BBQ and Marinade Sauce [haven’t tried this one yet, but I may use to make some pulled pork].

    Depending which one you use, his sauces have a unique flavor and to me, they make a good marinade and cooking sauce for Steak/Chicken/Pork/Shrimp etc…

    Guy’s sauces are a bit more in price, but, so far all have been very good…

    We all need a change now and again… so, there are times I like to experiment when I cook…a little of this and a little of that…to my glee, my husband has never complained about being the “guinea pig” to my ‘concoctions’…to his glee, they usually taste really good…lol

    As for Barbeque – I am stuck on “Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce” [until I cannot get it any longer] so that ends any discussion on that! lol

  5. 5


    That review was an interesting read untill I learned it was composed by that pompas, overblown windbag, Anthony Bourdain. He is such a pretentious snob, that any establishment recomended by him would, in my opinion, be one to avoid like the plague.

  6. 6

    Scott in Oklahoma

    @FAITH 7: Hey Faith, next time you feel like experimenting, try either one of these ideas, both originals… for beef I make a dry rub with coffee, cocoa, chipotle powder, garlic and some other stuff. For pork, a sauce; apricotjelly, chipotle jelly, pureed jalapeno, agave syrup… I do a little BBQin’ on occassion :-)

  7. 7


    One of my favorite dishes is fresh moose nose. It is best served right off the carcass so that your meal is ready right about the time you finish quartering the animal. Obviously, timing is everything when cooking over an open fire and butchering a moose. One of the most important things is the preparation; it is imperative to wash the nose in a cold water stream or snow if the creeks are frozen. The nose has an anatomical formation that allows you to use a forked stick through the nostrils so that it can be suspended over the fire at a practical height. A medium heat fire with the nose about a foot off the flame will require about twelve minutes. When the black skin of the nose splits and peels back, the nose is ready. If you have a couple of frozen onions or turnips, it is nice to place them in the coals for the time needed to cook them properly. Be prepared to enjoy a meal fit for a bush ape.

  8. 9

    Nan G

    @Scott in Oklahoma: Oh, Scott!
    You are a man after my own heart!
    I love a good mole (which is based on chile and cocoa among other spices)
    I have a winter-blend for hot cocoa to drink that includes a teaspoon of extra-finely ground cayenne pepper per 12 ounces dry Mexican spiced cocoa powder.
    But I had never tried a DRY rub with cocoa and chile.
    Sounds wonderful.
    Will try it soon.