TGI Friday’s. What can I say? They’re everywhere; Basildon, Croydon, Southampton – all the glamorous places. I won’t lie, I used to eat there quite a lot when I was younger – I loved their Times Square Big Share and I have fond memories of my friend ordering the fajitas and pronouncing the ‘j’, but it’s been a long time since I’ve held one of their buzzers in my hand and waited for 45 minutes for a table.
When my friend seriously suggested going to the one in Covent Garden, my curiosity got the better of me and in we went. Although the place was heaving (I’m talking rammed to the rafters) we luckily managed to get a table straight away. It was as tacky as I remembered with memorabilia and half-bodied mannequins wearing sports clothing clinging to the walls. There was even a motorbike in there for some reason.
For nostalgia’s sake we started by sharing the Times Square Big Share (£15.99) – that’s gone up a bit! It looked a lot smaller than in the old days and the beloved sticks of celery seemed to have disappeared. But I must say it tasted even better than it used to. The wings were cooked perfectly and the chicken fell off the bone without too much coaxing. The sticks of breaded mozzarella (breaded mozzarella is probably one of my favourite things in the world) were gooey and stringy and bloody delicious. The potato skins, topped with cheese and bacon were really crisp and grease free. The little pot of sugary Jack Daniels glaze which tasted delicious (but nothing like it’s description) was the perfect dunker along with the sour cream.
Blimey, had TGI Friday’s upped their game? Well, no. The main courses were horrendous – chicken fingers (£11.99) were bland and dry. The same could be said for the chips too. It was also all ridiculously salty.
The worst offender however was the 12oz rib-eye (£17.99). The quality of the beef was shocking and the cooking was equally as shoddy. The medium-rare I requested was only so for one slice in the centre – the rest was grey and chewy. I’m not even convinced the cut was a rib-eye either. The bourbon peppercorn sauce looked like a cup of sick and it didn’t taste much better come to think of it. Chips again were bland and the accompanying mixed veg (since when did green beans, broccoli and red pepper go so well together?!) tasted like they were out of a can. Watery mush.
Talking of watery mush, service was awful. One waitress was running the whole section meaning getting her attention was nigh on impossible. She even gave us our refillable Pepsi (everything was so salty we got through three of them) on the house by way of apology as we had to wait so long for the food. I certainly won’t be returning to TGI Friday’s but I somehow don’t think that matters – plenty of others most certainly will.