My boyfriend and I have already smoked and taken a cab to Times Square to celebrate his birthday Guy-style, because oh my god that Times review, and munchies are the best.
The first thing you see at Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar is a giant neon likeness of the gastronomic terrorist himself. Then you glimpse the Ed Hardy-inspired interior treatment, which could double as a hastily curated Fender guitar exhibit. “Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It” is the local manta, a sort of Abandon All Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here for anyone expecting otherwise, and it’s all you need to know. We’ve made it to the culinary terror dome.
Inside, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is shining forth light from a super-sized TV. Obviously, we stop to stare, because it’s our favorite show. But since Guy’s restaurant has 500 seats, we don’t have to wait long for our reservation to come up. Also, we are probably the only fools in the history of fools to think we needed a reservation at this gargantuan foodplex on a WEDNESDAY NIGHT. But I digress.
We are probably the only fools in the history of fools to think we needed a reservation at this gargantuan foodplex on a WEDNESDAY NIGHT.
We’re immediately seated at a corner two-top right next to a family of four, so obnoxious Instagramming is out of the question, already. What isn’t immediate is our waiter’s presence. We’ll call him Paul. He is the most generous kind of waiter. But Paul doesn’t believe in beverages or promptness. We’ll get to that later.
When he finally does show up, he tells me I can’t order the nuclear-blue watermelon margarita that Pete Wells so detested (we’ll never know why it was blue!). So I go with the Caliente Margarita, which in most places would just involve some jalapeno-infused tequila. But this one also has triple sec, cilantro, lime sour, and agave nectar—far too many ingredients, and also, the unofficial theme of the evening. The boyfriend orders Guy’s “Margarita de la Casa” (scare-quotes are Guy’s) because he is not feeling adventurous.
At Guy’s house, one apparently orders their appetizers along with their drinks, lest we not get this show on the motherfucking road. So we tell Paul we want the “Awesome” Pretzel Chicken Tenders (again, Guy’s quotes) that Pete Wells thought “tasted like chewy air” (Pete’s words) and the Vegas Fries that Wells and his crew never saw.
Meanwhile, I’ve already renamed my margarita “marga-jito,” as it appears to belong in the mojito genus—though, clearly, a mutated branch—with all that sweet-sour stuff and the gobs of herbs in it. I kind of like it because it looks like an overgrown koi pond minus the fish, and throughout the night I try to suck up the cilantro lily pads. The boyfriend is less pleased with his yellowy mix-from-a-machine-on-ice drink. WTF, Guy—that’s yellow Hawaiian Punch. And you know it.
After that, we don’t see Paul for a while, and a new man delivers our chicken tenders and Vegas Fries, a.k.a. our tickets to Flavor Town. I take one bite of the chicken tenders, and—oh man, Guy! You really changed! Pete Wells must’ve gotten to you. You said he had an agenda, but it seems that agenda was inspiring some bomb-dot-com chicken. These chicken tenders aren’t soggy pieces of shit—they’re tender. Tender, like they were beaten senseless by a grandmother with a mallet. Or walked on by Mama June Boo Boo, in cleats. And they’re crunchy. So crunchy. I (and Guy) would eat this off a flip-flop. I would also eat my fingers with that sauce on them. I think to myself that this is what the Good Burger sauce must taste like.
The Disco Fries? Another story. At first touch, they’re pretty cold. Like, recoil your hand cold. But they are covered in buffalo sauce. So let’s give it another try. A hefty dip in the slightly green blue cheese-wasabi concoction, and into the mouth. No, they’re definitely freezing and hollow, and OH MY GOD THAT IS SALTY. They’re like cold, dead fingers, from a body that somehow managed to drown in the Dead Sea. I need to wash this down with something. Paul never brought us any water, though: Just this jalapeno-tequila thing. I’m beginning to second-guess my life choices, like this drink, which seems to push forth the theory that Morton Salt is a perfectly good substitute for a margarita rim.
Across the aisle, an older woman is sending her Caliente Marga-jito back because it’s too hot, and she “doesn’t need all that.” We need to get some water over here, or I’m going to have to start drinking that chicken finger sauce. We finally find Paul and ask—nay, beg—for him to water our salty tongues, like Moses beating that rock. And he goes off again into the wilderness of painted flames and Top 40 hits.
Pete Wells, you say this pork shank tastes like General Tso’s sauce, but I fucking love General Tso’s.
Now it’s 20 minutes later, and I can’t feel my tongue through the pain. And this isn’t that Mission Chinese-esque, Sichuan peppercorn numbness. It’s just a hot burn of hellfire in my face, a.k.a. salt poisoning from the disco fingers. I obviously continue to eat most of them. I’m still dipping my hands in the cold chicken finger sauce when the waiter hits my arm on his way down with our entrees. I guess Wells was right about the servers not caring about the status of the old food before they drop off the new food. He’s gone before I can formulate some kind of signal with my parched lips and sauce hands.
I imagine Paul lost with his water pitcher, stumbling among a sea of 500 seats. I also picture him to be like the Dothraki in Game of Thrones, the one who rides off in search of water in the desert and comes back with his HEAD CHOPPED OFF. I hope that doesn’t happen to Paul.
I’ll continue to panic later. Right now there are new things to look at with my munchie vision, like this NY Strip covered in onion rings, and a giant pork shank. We also get some normal fries, which taste pretty good.
Everything tastes good with the munchies.
Guy says Pat La Frieda made this steak, and I’m not so sure about that, but any meat tastes good topped with crunchy onion rings—even onion rings that were possibly purchased from Burger King. Pete Wells, you say this pork shank tastes like General Tso’s sauce, but I fucking love General Tso’s. Now I have a giant hump of pork slathered in this stuff, working overtime also drowning a few veggies. So what if it’s all plated on a bed of Rice-A-Roni? I love that, too. It’s the San Francisco Treat, and a bonafide California businessman like Guy knows that.
By this time, Paul shows up with our waters like nothing in the world is wrong, and I immediately correct that notion by ordering a second round to back these bad boys up. Poor Paul—he’s so nice and confident, he offered to buy my porky dinner if I didn’t like it. Luckily for him, I am stoned. I love all of it.
I think I am eating with my fingers at this point, like a medieval lord, with a delicious haunch of pork such as this. At some point, I go to the bathroom to wash the grease fly-aways off of my shirt and dance to a little Cee-Lo Green. When I return, Paul has set out some wet wipes just for me. Apparently my sheer disdain for dining etiquette hasn’t gone unnoticed. As I scrub my piggy fingers, I look around. This place is definitely a shrine, or at least an advertisement, for Fender. Guitars are everywhere. Not sure of the connection, except maybe the spastic rocker hand signals Guy does when he eats food.
Seriously, guys, get the whipped cream coffee mug at Guy’s. It’s so great.
By now, the boyfriend and I are under the impression we are full—like never-been-more-full-want-to-kill-ourselves full. We are wrong. Paul sends over fried ice cream and a candle for the birthday boy—the same fried ice cream that Pete Wells says is a “standard scoop” and not at all like the “boulder” Guy says it will be. How much ice cream is Pete Wells accustomed to eating in one sitting? My God, this thing is huge, like the size of a snow-globe huge. And also, covered in this crunchy granola-honey stuff that may or may not be fried at all. How would they fry this? Flash fry? Freezing it with liquid nitrogen? Who cares—it’s so good and comes with whipped cream and a little mint leaf.
By now, we’re on the verge of vomiting in front of that nice family. Possibly on them. But we’re not done. Paul decides to send us a coffee cup filled with whipped cream and another mint and another candle. Yes, a mug of whipped cream. He couldn’t make it to the table to sing the first time, so he brought five friends. And a coffee mug full of whipped cream.
So we ate that, too.
“Seriously, guys, get the whipped cream coffee mug at Guy’s. It’s so great.” In fact, this entire dinner has been hashtag-On-the-Money, hashtag-On-Point. My leftovers come packed in a yellow plastic bag like I just got back from Forever 21. Doesn’t matter. Paul is the best.
Fast-forward one hour.
We are both lying in bed, chomping Tums, clutching our stomachs and screaming, “WHAT DID WE EAT?! WHY, GUY! WHY?!?!?”
Was it all the seasoned sauces? Was it the disco fingers? (Seriously, Pete, you dodged a bullet on that one.) Most likely we overate like a couple of assholes. Everything seems like a good idea with the munchies.
Fast-forward to the next day.
Placing Forever 21 leftovers bag directly in trash. Eating only Tums for breakfast and lunch. Canceling all appointments. Going back to bed.