Legendarily bad restaurant reviews revisited in Guy Fieri fallout

Legendarily bad restaurant reviews revisited in Guy Fieri fallout

In the wake of the media firestorm surrounding Pete Wells’s scathing review of Fieri’s Times Square restaurant Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, food magazine Bon Appétit has revisited some of the most legendarily caustic reviews ever penned.

One of the most pitiless and severe critics in the industry? British food writer Jay Rayner, whose review of London eatery Abracadabra in the Observer is singled out by the magazine for its entertainment value more so than for its service journalism.

Case in point: “The burger is dry and black. It costs £18. I mourn the cow,”

Other food critics who are identified as particularly talented in skewering their victims include the NYTimesFrank Bruni, the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo, GQ writer Alan Richman, and A.A. Gill, for Vanity Fair, whose 2003 review of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant 66 is a vitriolic but immensely amusing read:

“Having treated you at the door like social scurvy with contagious halitosis, the staff subtly changes demeanor once you're inside. They treat you like deaf cretins with learning difficulties," it reads.

"Every city with a Zagat needs to have a ridiculously overpriced, underdesigned, absurdly smug, dark diner, staffed by humorless snots who think they're gastronomy consultants and mongers of chic, so that we can point and laugh and say, 'Oy, it's only dinner'--think of it as a sort of edible self-help group-therapy thing.”

Meanwhile, a food critic of an entirely different sort – a kinder, gentler kind – likewise grabbed headlines recently after penning an overwhelmingly simple and rave review of a chain restaurant’s arrival in her hometown.

Marilyn Hagerty, 85, food columnist at a local North Dakota paper, became an internet sensation earlier this year after she described the opening of a new Olive Garden as “the largest and most beautiful restaurant operating in Grand Forks.”

Reaction to the story stoked an online storm with accusations flying of food elitism and snobbery.

Dramatic readings of Yelp restaurant reviews also became a brief internet trend after videos featuring professional actors went viral.

The Good Wife actress Therese Plummer, for instance, lent her voice to a rip-roaring, hilarious review of an Indian restaurant which, despite turning the reviewer into a “human flamethrower” with its spices, was “truly delicious.”

"The Tandoori prawns were cooked beautifully, seasoned to perfection, and tore through me with the awesome fury of the horsemen of the apocalypse. Bravo," she reads.

"This meal was delectable, exotic, and incinerated everything in my intestines. My morning was an unforgettable thrill ride."

The full round-up of brilliant but brutal food journalism, meanwhile, can be found on Bon Appétit’s blog at http://bonapp.it/TNlVWy.