Tag Archives: Guy Fieri

Eating Las Vegas

So, I went to Vegas last weekend for a Blue Oyster Cult concert, and ended up spending so much money that I had to pawn the Camaro, bro! And no, I didn’t lose a fortune playing strip poker…I spent it all on food, son!

I did have some great eats, though. Here are some of the funky, hometown joints I hit up:

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So you know we’re starting this culinary adventure where all the magic happens, Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen + Bar. Guy’s kitchen in NYC was kinda crappy…but Vegas is his home away from home, so you know it’s gotta be good.

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We’re starting things off with the Vegas Fries, which are really more Buffalo fries than anything. These crispy spuds are drenched in hot sauce and smothered in blue cheese, and then you’ve got another shot of hot sauce to pour over top, along with some ranch dressing and shaved carrots, you know, for some calcium. Lemme tell ya, these spicy spuds will sure wake you up in the morning! I think I musta chugged 7 glasses of ice tea along with this…it’s even hotter than Guy’s Buffalo wing sauce!

flavortown_mayor_sandwich

They call this sandwich the Mayor of Flavortown, and it’s sure got my vote. Thick slices of beefy pastrami piled on top of a well-done burger. Call your mommy, that’s a lotta pastrami! A bit of slaw and fried onion rings on top with fries on the side. And since it doesn’t come with the sandwich, I asked for a side order of Donkey Sauce:

fieri_donkey_sauce

What the heck is donkey sauce? Well, it’s basically a paprika aioli–super thick with a little kick. I dipped it in fries, slathered some on pastrami and even dunked a bit of burger in it…but I probably wouldn’t put it on a flip flop.

Man, after eating all this I actually didn’t have room for dessert. I guess the pretzel potato chip cheesecake will hafta wait till next time…

naked_city_pizza

So we’re hanging out at Naked City Pizza, this funky little dive on Paradise, right by UNLV and across from every gay bar in town–including the one that was on Bar Rescue and the owner didn’t like it so he shut it down.

Now, I don’t think the name of this place has anything to do with nudity–one thing’s for sure, they’re serving up some righteous pies that are all dressed up and about to go straight down my pie hole!

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Now, they call this one The Stinger, and it’ll really leave a mark. This pie is packed with both beef and Buffalo-style chicken, along onions, hot peppers and jalapeños. They say it’s a Buffalo tradition, but I’ve never witnessed anything like this in Wide Right City!

Cuz yeah, the size you see here is their smallest. They actually call it the Wee size, and I don’t like to order anything with such a dainty name…but that’s definitely enough food for at least two people!

buffalo_chicken_dip

Of course, you can’t have Buffalo cuisine without chicken, and while they do have wings on the menu, I like eating things I can dip into other things…so I went with the Buffalo chicken dip instead. This cheese is stuck together so tight, you gotta fight it with a fork and knife, and they give you enough garlic breads for three people. I probably wouldda filled up just on bread, if they didn’t bring out my pizza pie just two minutes later. And even then, I still had to take some back to my place…

sonoran_street_dog

So, we’re hanging out at Pink Taco, this funky fresh Mexican joint at the Hard Rock Casino. This place is serving up every kind of Mexican food you can think of…and even a few that you can’t, like this Sonoran street dog.

Ok, let’s break it down. The dog is thick and juicy, you’ve got a nice crunch from the bacon. The jalapeño relish is sweet, not too spicy, and there’s a nice bite from the caramelized onions. Then on the side, you’ve got these crispy garlic fries, which go great with the plantain ketchup. This dish should be illegal it’s so good–one of the top five hot dogs I’ve ever had!

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Of course, it ain’t Vegas without the buffets. I was gonna go to the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace, but when I got there at 10 am, the lineup was already 90 minutes long. I wouldn’t line up that long for front-row Lynyrd Skynyrd tickets, son, so I headed across the street to the Flamingo for their Paradise Garden feast.

Man, this place has everything–a pizza station, fresh-sliced bacon and sausage, unlimited mimosas and bloody marys, even a salad bar, in case you’re into that. And at 25 bucks after tax, it’s half the price of those other guys.

flamingo_paradise_buffet (2)Plate 1: fried chicken, eggs Benny, pizza, pancakes, freshly sliced bacon

flamingo_paradise_buffet (4)Plate 2: Tacos, corn on the cob, country biscuit, fried rice, mac n cheese and a green bean that fell onto my plate by accident

flamingo_paradise_buffet (6)Plate 3: smoked salmon, fresh-cut sausage, scrambled eggs, nachos, mini burritos

Now, after this most scrumptious feast, I bet you’re asking “Could he possibly have room for dessert?” The answer, of course, is yes–but this piece of custardy chocolate cake oughtta do’er.

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John Catucci is a true Canadian treasure!

(Originally written June 27, 2014)

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It’s Friday, which can only mean one thing: back-to-back new episodes of You Gotta Eat Here!  When I first heard about the Food Network show, Canada’s answer to Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, I figured it had to be a pale imitation that could only thank CANCON regulations for its existence.  But y’know what, I think I actually like our version better now, and not just because I can actually walk to some of the places I’ve seen on the show.

Put it this way: YGEH! host John Catucci is not the Canadian Guy Fieri…and that’s a good thing!  Although I still watch his show–for the food–the bleach-blond broseph has been getting on my nerves lately, and not just because they brought my food to the wrong table at his American Kitchen and Bar.  When an old episode of Triple-D comes on, ever notice how Guy wasn’t covered in awful-looking tattoos back in the day?  And man, his catchphrases have become so cliche that even everyday diners on You Gotta Eat Here! are using them now.  Hmm, I wonder if Food Network Canada owes him royalties for that…

But while Fieri spends more time hobnobbing with Kid Rock and the cast of Grown-Ups 2 (ever the arbiter of terrible taste) than he does helping in the kitchen, The Catooch, as he’s affectionately called, is not afraid to get his hands dirty.  I must admit, I was entirely unfamiliar with the Canadian actor/comedian beforehand, previously best known for his role on the CBC children’s show The Doodlebops.  But he’s won me over with his self-effacing humour, his kind and gentle demeanour…and most importantly, his equal love of plaid and food.  When I watch the program, I think “Now there’s a guy who could eat as many hamburgers in one day as I can!”  Or maybe not… 😉

In a nutshell, what makes Catucci so endearing to Canadian viewers is his utter Canadianness.  Even the tagline “I’m not a chef, but I know great food when I eat it!” gives the impression that he’s not some overinflated, egotistical Texan, but just your ordinary, average Canuck, the kinda guy you’d like to have a beer with.  And hey, although I don’t live in the area anymore, if John ever visits Puck ‘n Wings or Burrito Bandidos in The Annex, I wanna be in that episode!  Dude, those wings are bananas, and bananas is goodTM!

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Guy Fieri’s Buffalo NY Wing Sauce brings Buffalo north of the border

Now, I’ve been to the Anchor Bar, aka Temple of the Buffalo Wing, a whole buncha times. You might even see my license plate on the wall, but you’ll hafta guess which one it is… Lemme tell ya, though, I would fill the gas tank of a ’67 Camaro with their wing sauce if it didn’t cost me a boatload in border taxes! There are very few wing joints in Toronto that perfectly capture that tangy, buttery taste of an authentic Buffalo wing (hot tip: there’s one at the corner of Bloor and Walmer in The Annex), so when my last bottle of Anchor Bar sauce ran out, I had to find me a replacement in the grocery aisle:

fieri sauce (1)

Now, what does Guy Fieri know about buffalo sauce? I mean, he does serve donkey sauce at his NYC joint in Times Square, but that’s a totally different animal! Let’s face it, this bleach-blond broseph is about as Buffalo as Leon Lett. (Still too soon?) I probably wouldn’t have even bought this sauce, if it wasn’t 50% off. They normally charge like eight bucks for a jar of this stuff!

But as soon as I tasted it, I knew that Guy Fieri’s Buffalo NY Wing Sauce was bananas, and bananas are good. I don’t know how he did it—I’m guessing he got Kid Rock to smuggle the secret recipe across the Buffalo/Detroit border in a faux-leopard cowboy hat—but the dude manages to capture the true taste of Buffalo in this bottle. If this sauce was any more authentic, it would have tears of Bills fans baked right in! Can you say “Winner, winner, double-down Buffalo chicken burger dinner?”

buffalo burger (2)

OK, let’s break it down. What you’ve got here are two frozen—never fresh—chicken burger patties dunked in Guy Fieri’s Buffalo NY Wing Sauce, topped with blue cheese squares and Hickory Sticks, the greatest chips of all time (says so right here) and joined together in holy matrimony inside an oversized onion bun. Let’s face it, this is basically Guy Fieri in chicken burger form. It even has the same haircut! 😉

OK, so maybe I should’ve used a smaller bun, but hey, who’s counting carbs when you can be counting down to some NFL playoff action…unless you live in Buffalo. (2025 AFC East champs, baby!)

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Guy’s American Bar is in Times Square, but its Kitchen must be in a distant suburb of Flavortown…

(Originally written January 23, 2013)

What trip to New York City would be complete without a visit to celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s Times Square joint, which received such a glowing review in the Times?  As a big fan of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (the show, not the fat fuck who hosts it), I of course had to come check it out.  Were the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders really not so awesome?  Did the watermelon margarita really taste like formaldehyde?  My life would not be complete without the answers to these questions.  But, much to my dismay, I see they’ve omitted the formaldehyde martini.  The chicken tenders, on the other hand, are very much still a menu item:

awesome_chicken_tenders

Now, I will agree with NYT food critic Pete Wells in that I would’ve never guessed that the breading contains either pretzels or smoked almonds.  That said, they really weren’t that bad.  Big, hot and crispy…  Better (and more expensive) than the chicken fingers I buy at Costco, that’s for sure!  Also, the Donkey Sauce really added an extra kick.  At least, I think that’s what it was called.  It was really just a spicy mustard.  Anyways, while the tenders were at least partially awesome, I can’t exactly say the same about the pulled pork tacos…

pulled_pork_tacos

Now, while the pork itself had the right amount of tang, it wasn’t even remotely warm.  And the random sprinkling of corn, cheese and semen-lookalike white sauce didn’t really add much of an extra kick.  This dish does not reside in Flavourtown, put it that way!

Alas, while there were initial reports of the place being packed, it was half-empty when I arrived around noon on a Sunday.  And yet, even though there were only three people sitting at the downstairs bar, the food-runner still managed to give my grub to the other folks–before he was chastised by the barkeep.  Granted, it might seem weird for one person to order two appetizers, but man, their mains were fucking expensive!

On the plus side, I take some comfort in knowing that the cooks all washed their hands before preparing my pork tacos.  I’m assuming they read the sign, anyways…

must_wash_hands

Throwback Thursday: That time Guy Fieri’s NYC joint got destroyed in the Times

(Originally written November 15, 2012)

guys_sign

I gotta say, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” is one of my favourite shows on TV.  Not so much for its host, Guy Fieri—a bleach-blond, pot-bellied, tattooed broseph with a Camaro, who heads across the country to see what’s cookin’ at local eateries—but rather for the immaculate assortment of greasy, unhealthy dishes on display.  It’s all about the food, yo!  Mind you, it seems that Fieri didn’t do much more than expand his waistline over several seasons of Triple-D, if the New York Times’ review of his new restaurant in Times Square is any indication.

Writing for the Times, food critic Pete Wells goes kamikaze on Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar, leading one to believe that it serves nothing but fancified, overhyped slop with a variety of disgusting sauces and sides.  Speaking directly to the celebrity chef, Wells exclaims “Were you struck by how very far from awesome the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders are? … Did you discern any buttermilk or brine in the white meat, or did you think it tasted like chewy air?”  Wells even questions the names of the food, noting that the Roasted Pork Bahn Mi, which he calls “one of the few things on your menu that can be eaten without fear or regret,” “resembles that item about as much as you resemble Emily Dickinson.”

Even the cocktail menu gets the thumbs-down, Wells demanding to know why “that blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste … tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde.”  I guess that as a restaurant critic, he’s actually tasted both radiator fluid and formaldehyde before—and I’m sure that automotive fusion cuisine spot didn’t last more than six months…

Mind you, it seems that Guy’s American Kitchen might not be in it for the long haul, either.  They’ve even committed the cardinal sin of screwing up nachos!  As Wells writes, “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?”  Maaan, just reading those words makes me a sad panda! 😦

Of course, Fieri could answer most of these questions with a simple “Nah bro, I’ve been crusin’ in my Camero…  Straight down to Flavortown!”  Which seems like someone Guy Fieri might say.  In any case, I think I’ll stick to watching him stuff his face like an idiot on TV rather than letting his kitchen confirm that the man has no living brain cells.  Thanks, New York Times!

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(Hmm, I don’t think I see the formaldehyde martini on the menu…)

Much to my dismay, Guy Fieri’s salsa verde tastes nothing like hairspray…

(Originally written November 21, 2014)

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Picked this bad boy up at my local grocery store.  While I wouldn’t normally pay, like, eight bucks for a jar of hot sauce, this isn’t your ordinary green salsa, no sir!  You’ve got the creaminess of the xanthan gum, a nice tang from the dextrose and yeast extract, and the “natural fire roast flavor,” which adds a nice kick.  This salsa is so “money” it’s green!  (It actually says that on the other side of the jar.)  And while I wouldn’t put it on a flip-flop, it’s still pretty bananas–and bananas is good!  Can you say “Winner Winner, Fridge Pizza Dinner?”

sauce_pockets

Let’s break it down, here.  You’ve got some mini pita bread, warmed up in the microwave, slathered in Guy’s special sauce, with a buncha Parmesan cheese dumped on top.  Shut the front door!  OK, so it ain’t no chicken base ‘n garlic salt…but this dish was still better than those cold pork tacos I had at Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar!

(More on those later…)