I have grown bored with the culinary options offered by the College. I ventured outside my comfort zone, with the help of a few close friends, down Richmond Rd. to TGI Friday’s for an evening of food, fun and even a bit of alcohol.
While I entertained the thought of telling our waitress that I was a food blogger for a very prestigious publication and was in need of a tasting menu, Friday’s had beat me to the punch. The obvious beginning of our culinary adventure was the Jack Daniel’s appetizer platter. Composed of fried shrimp, sesame chicken nuggets and a half rack of ribs, this avalanche of Hors d’oeuvres was our only logical starting pointing. The shrimp was the star; crunchy yet tender with the perfect ratio of crust to meat. The sesame chicken was far too sweet and lacked any real depth of flavor. Its texture could have only been produced by thawing the chicken, re-freezing it, thawing it again, boiling it and then, finally, deep-frying. Friday’s would be advised to save some time on this arduous and unnecessary process and simply toss McNuggets in teriyaki sauce. The ribs were similarly underwhelming; adequately tender but criminally bland. The signature Jack Daniel’s dipping sauce was tantamount to sugar syrup. Our first round of extra tall Blue Moon drafts could not come soon enough. Tastefully garnished with an orange slice, this was better than any Blue Moon I’ve had previously. Maybe it was the really big glasses, maybe I should get out more, but this meal was looking better with each sip.
Soon enough, our entrees and our second round of cocktails had arrived. Admitting that Friday’s isn’t the most nuanced of culinary destinations, I went with an old stand-by: the steak and chicken fajita. Thankfully, Friday’s didn’t attempt some sort of nu-age-gastro-pub reinterpretation and it was everything that I hoped it would be: tender and flavorless chicken and steak, sour cream, cheese, guacamole, sautéed peppers, onions and a surprisingly delicate salsa. I would have been content with any variety of jarred Mexican tomato sauce, but this was different. A bit thinner than I expected, it provided all of the spice I was looking for and more. As any curious diner would, I sampled my guests’ dishes. The flat iron steak was cooked to a perfect medium-rare and actually benefitted from the same sugar syrup that utterly overtook our appetizers. While I’m usually not inclined to dip my steak in such a concoction, I decided to check my bourgeois tendencies at the door and embrace my inner-child. Saucing a steak with saccharine seemed so inviting. As if this was not enough, the loaded mashed potatoes, brutishly garnished with melted cheddar and bacon, were undeniably delicious.
Even though I specifically instructed all diners not to repeat any dishes, one stubborn student insisted on getting the Jack Daniels chicken and shrimp, revisiting our most delicious appetizer. Already having tasted the shrimp, the chicken was thoroughly uneventful. The diner also foolishly opted for the unloaded mashed potatoes which paled in comparison to the cholesterol casserole of bacon and cheese to my right. The B-B-Q chicken wrap was easily the worst meal of the evening, being more-or-less a ranch sandwich. If you’ve found this review to be overwhelmingly mediocre so far, it is only because I have yet to address the most entertaining aspect of our meal: garishly girlish cocktails.
The first of which set the standard which all others would be held to: the pink punk cosmo. With an unexpected flair, our waitress brought a martini glass filled with cotton candy and a shaker filled with liquor. Upon combination, the cotton candy was instantly liquefied and the result was unadulterated jungle juice. Besides for the warmth in my stomach and an increased ambivalence about the quality of food served, this drink had no hints of being alcoholic.
Being far too insecure with my sexuality to order such a beverage, I opted for the comparatively masculine Long Island iced tea. Since there was no cotton candy in this beverage, it seemed quite alcoholic initially, but with every sip it began to resemble the world’s most delicious iced tea. The same adventurer who had devoured his loaded mashed potatoes, reloaded with a pleasantly sweet Mojito, which another much more inebriated guest mistook for mint flavored water. At this point we had already broken all taboos regarding how many infinitely silly drinks one could order at a Friday’s and pushed on.
The mudslide martini was more confusing than anything. I admit that I hate vodka in any setting, but coupled with Bailey’s and chocolate syrup this beverage almost brought me to the brink of barfing. My guests were quite fond of it, but vodka causes such a sharp pang on my palette that I found it insufferable. The berry acai sour was a welcome reprieve from an onslaught of sweetness. Drinking something that actually tasted like alcohol provided a reality-check after spending a majority of the meal in Candyland. Similarly, we ordered a Jack and Coke in an attempt to figure out if the Friday’s bartender was capable of making a beverage that wasn’t unspeakably sweet. Perfectly in proportion and with plenty of ice, it was a solid tribute to the old standard. Not a group to end such an exciting evening with something so basic, we ordered a strawberry margarita with four straws. Complete with all the requisite sweetness coupled with the pleasant bite of tequila, it was a fitting end.
TGI Friday’s was what any college student could ask for; shitty food, weird atmosphere and copious amounts of sugary alcohol. There is a certain charm about sampling a buffet of exotic tonics while being surrounded by shameless pieces of flare, parents and their children. In a single phrase, our evening was summed up by a friend who was particularly susceptible to spirits: “I can’t taste anything.”