TGI Fridays, the latest restaurant to replenish the up and coming Telford Southwater complex. In a zone that has been dominated for so long by Italian restaurants and Mexican joints, TGI Fridays has injected a bit of vivacity and excitement to the interchangeable Southwater strip. Upon entering the diner you are immediately presented with a retro American motor-bike; which I assume is purely for show, though nonetheless it was incredibly tempting to hop on and take a selfie! The bold choices of decor continue throughout the restaurant: from the Playstation one remotes positioned on the roof, to the quirky drum kit lighting that dangles down from the ceiling and it is this kind of striking approach to the ambience that really captures your inner-child and makes you eager to discover more about the energetic world of TGI Fridays! As a consumer I found the eye-catching atmosphere to be very dynamic, and believe me I was able to truly take in every aspect of the restaurants vigorous array during my prolonged wait for service, not to mention real life food.
After being conviviality seated to our table by the ebullient waitress, we were left to digest the long captivatingly irresistible food menu! After narrowing it down to three choices, we were then left to stare at the bright, vibrant walls for a worrying forty-five minutes whilst the inattentive staff decided it was time to finish their gossip period at the podium and come and grab our order! But it was all splendid because we were able to sip away at the half glass of diluted Coca Cola that had evolved from the stack of ice cubes that had kindly been crammed into the glass of our free-refilled soda! Anyhow the sympathetic waitress apologised for the delay in taking our order and condoned it to being down to the busyness of the restaurant; because you know, when there is more staff floating around than there are customers seated, it can be quite hectic… right?
Besides, three more refills of Coca Cola later the starters arrived. The two starters included:JACK DANIEL’S SESAME CHICKEN STRIPS and PULLED PORK SUNDAE.
Asides the lack of pork in the Pulled Pork Sundae and the cool temperature of the velvety smooth mash potato, the Pulled Pork Sundae was a delightful treat for the taste buds. Polished off with the delicately placed crispy bacon flakes on top and the sweetened, yet vinegarish red onion relish that drizzled through the centre of the mash. As for the Jack Daniels Chicken Strips, they can only be described as being a God damn foodgasm! The crisp toasted sesame seeds complimented the tender strips of chicken, and the Jack Daniels sauce truly contributed to the warmth of the tongue tingling flavour, which was supported by the light dash of chilli flakes creating this moreish piquancy, that I genuinely craved the following day. The Jack Daniels Chicken Strips were definitely the highlight of the evening and I will certainly be purchasing them as a main course next time! Although the Pulled Pork Sundae was scrumptious too, I simply prefer my own homemade rendition of the dish – signed off with the tempting onion ring circumference.
So I’m gonna be honest here, the wait between the starters and the main were rather prompt and as far as presentation goes the main courses were very enticing. We both opted for burgers; which is the norm for a diner, right? I played it safe and continued the Jack Daniels theme by ordering the FRIDAY’S® DOUBLE GLAZED JACK DANIEL’S, whereas my dining buddy plunged into the beastly WARRIOR burger!
I’m gonna start by commenting on the Warrior burger, for the price it was pretty impressive! The burger was built up with two beef burgers, mozzarella dippers, colby cheese, bacon, American cheese and caramelised onions. I feel the contents of the burger was just enough and the flavours seemed to work, you have the smoked aroma of the American cheese which emphasised the woody grilled sensation of the crispy bacon, softened by the gooey mozzarella dippers. However I found the danger of the Warrior burger was, it was approaching a sensational over-kill territory. Those last few crunches of the fresh salad and crisp red onions felt like it was a chore to complete the challenging tongue tingler and the subsequent nibbles of the fluffy, sugary brioche bun were almost nauseating. All in all the Warrior burger was an impressive serving, it arrived neatly and the flavours presented a form of ticklish comfort to the appetite. Now I’m gonna introduce you to a friend of mine, who is going to be making a couple of appearances throughout these blogs and his name is: Jack, Jack Daniels. Now Jack Daniels is a successful worldwide brand, obviously better known for their whiskey products, but they are making a pretty confident mark in the food industry too; with products such as their BBQ sauce range and their sweet food merchandise, including fudge. Admittedly I’m a fan of the brand and right up to this point TGI Fridays were proving to be the perfect companion to this brand, producing winning recipes like the mouth watering chicken strips and the scrumptious warm Tennessee dipping sauce. Now I don’t know if it’s because I’d raised my expectations for the main, or perhaps it’s because I was still half-starved from initial service wait, but the Double Glazed Jack Daniels burger really failed to deliver! Sure it looked charming and heck I’d be lying if I were to say that first bite didn’t deliver the tiniest bit of exhilaration, but the more acquainted I got with this notorious teaser… the more I began to realise it was no better than the Tennessee burger that Wetherspoons sell for half the price with the welcoming addition of a pint of Stowford Press. I think the thing that really frustrated me about this feeble nosh-up was the fact that they’d just casually dolloped a bit of Jack Daniels BBQ sauce on top of burger and then smothered it in a hearty Monterey Jack cheese and then piled on a few rashers of crispy bacon and hoped for the best! And I’m not saying it was a bad burger, not at all. But what I am saying is, it was nothing more than a stylised Big Mac and Christ it didn’t even have gherkins on!
Alrighty then, lets conclude! TGI Fridays is definitely a welcoming venue. The bar is trendy and highly provocative, a notion that expands around the restaurant with the bold decor choices. I feel guilty saying it as the staff did seem lovely and enthusiastic, but their lumbering approach to the service truly blemished my Fridays experience. The food was swings and roundabouts really, on the one hand the Jack Daniels Chicken Strips starter was potentially one of the best chained restaurant starters I’ve had this year, but unfortunately that trend failed to continue with the main course which was pretty darn dull to be quite honest. I think the real concern on the main course front was the small price difference between the Warrior burger and the Double Glazed Jack Daniels burger, yet the humungous difference in portion size. It felt as though there was no happy-medium with the TGI’s portion strategy, you either bore yourself with a bland, apathetic burger or you suffocate your tastebuds into a food coma by opting for a oleaginous heart attack on a plate. Furthermore I feel it is fair to say that behind the stupendous ambience that TGI Fridays offers, there is really nothing too exciting about the menu and I still strongly believe that the Novello Lounge situated moments away offer the best tasting burger on the Southwater compound! I will also be posting a review for the Novello Lounge very soon, but in the meantime be sure to check out TGI Fridays for yourself and definitely try the mouth watering Jack Daniels Chicken Strips!
*** 3 – Star Rating.