According to Pete Wells at the Times, Chef Michael Psilakis has his first fail with Gus & Gabriel Gastropub, which receives a devastating FAIR rating in today’s paper:
The anglicized Gastropub of the name is a red herring. Gus & Gabriel’s menu reads like the one at countless casual American pubs, with a few nods to T. G. I. Friday’s and all the strip-mall P. T. Pennyfathers it spawned.
Mr. Psilakis intended to improve mainstream food — fried mozzarella, spaghetti and meatballs, barbecued riblets — by making it all from scratch. The tortilla chips in nachos are fried in house; the ice creams in the shakes and floats are made at Anthos.
This may strike some people as pandering. But the problem with Gus & Gabriel is not that it aims low. The problem is that it fails to achieve even its low aims.
This was the paper’s first FAIR rating since William Grimes’s tenure. Frank Bruni never gave a FAIR. He once said that two kinds of zero—POOR and SATISFACTORY—were enough. The trouble was that most of his SATISFACTORY reviews didn’t convey much satisfaction. If a restaurant is this bad, then it isn’t satisfactory.
Gus & Gabriel is Micheal Psilakis’s seventh New York restaurant in five years. Three have closed (Onera, Dona, and the original Kefi), and this week he severed his ties with another, Mia Dona. The transferred Kefi is a disaster, and so apparently is Gus & Gabriel. That leaves the acclaimed Anthos, but heaven knows if he is actually paying attention to it—it doesn’t get much press these days.
It’s time for Psilakis to stop tossing out ideas like so many bullets out of a machine gun, and focus again on getting them right.