Chef and television personality Guy Fieri arrives with a group of cheerleaders at a welcome event for Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar. (Caesars Entertainment / April 4, 2014)
Chef Guy Fieri returned to Las Vegas to open his newest restaurant on Thursday, 24 years after graduating from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
The new 200-seat Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar is the first he has launched since the creation two years ago of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar in Manhattan, which received a memorably scathing review in the New York Times.
“Why is one of the few things on your menu that can be eaten without fear or regret — a lunch-only sandwich of chopped soy-glazed pork with coleslaw and cucumbers — called a Roasted Pork Bahn Mi, when it resembles that item about as much as you resemble Emily Dickinson?” New York Times critic Pete Wells wrote as one of the series of questions that made up the review.
Wells said the New York restaurant’s watermelon margarita glowed like “nuclear waste” and tasted like “some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde.”
Asked about the review, Fieri said: “Did we make mistakes? Without question. Every restaurant does. Were things that bad? Absolutely not.”
The host of Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” said he expects the quality of the food at his Vegas outpost will speak for itself.
“All I can say is, ‘Judge for yourself,’” said Fieri, who was on hand Thursday to greet guests and oversee the cooks at the new eatery at the Quad, which enjoys an enviable location fronting on Las Vegas Boulevard.
“We are a fishbowl on the Strip,” he said. “You don’t have to go two levels deep into the hotel.”
Fieri said he couldn’t choose a favorite dish from the extensive menu, but he recommended the “Sashimi-Won” ahi tacos ($14) and the “Mac + Cheese Bacon Burger” ($18).
For Fieri, opening a restaurant in Las Vegas is a bit of a homecoming. The Northern California native graduated from UNLV in 1990 with a degree in hospitality management. On a pre-opening visit a couple of weeks ago, he arrived in his signature vintage red Camaro with UNLV cheerleaders in the back seat.
“I love coming to Vegas,” he said. “This is my kind of energy.”