TGI FRIDAY’S, ST. DAVID’S CENTER, CARDIFF
Usually we’d strategically alternate our reviews between giant corporate machines and fluffy, innocent independents; however, since we update as regularly as an Arriva Train delays its services, beggars can’t and won’t be choosers. While on yet another hiatus due to life being more complicated than we were promised as we slipped from our respective wombs, we’ve maintained our efforts to reduce the 18 million tonnes of food waste per year.
Americans are typically so positive, and often proud of their history on such extrovert levels that you will accept it without exception (we’ve not long returned from our travels to the United States, see. This isn’t anecdotal, for a change). By contrast, even when experiencing post-Mediterranean heat for the length of time we have, we still moan it’s too much like the Med and not, “Ooooh, I do like 22 degrees C, it’s perfect. This is just too hot, isn’t it, Barbara?”.
Tsk. If us Brits had originally designed TGI Friday’s, we’d have called it something like, “At Least It Isn’t Monday, I suppose” (ALIIM,IS); or, “Oops, I Forgot To Put The Bloody Bins Out, Now They Won’t Be Collected For Another Week (OIFTPTBBO, NTWBCFAW)”. We agree, both of those suggestions are far superior, alas, a re-brand is off the cards.
Instead, we groaned our way to the eagerly awaiting maitre d’ and were seated in an efficient enough manner that we couldn’t complain about, were handed menus that we also couldn’t complain about not having, and were even treated to bottomless (or ‘refills’ if you’re Yank-orientated) soft drinks that we didn’t have to make much effort to ask for.
Despite TGIF being an unashamedly American chain, it generally is efficient, overly friendly whatever the weather, and always smells good. Our Australian host on this occasion, who due to an administrative error we’ve lost the name of, was superb. No doubt about it, one of the best ‘waiters’ we’ve ever had. He was chatty, helpful and did his job well, but was also honest and sincere about it, too. And avid EATCardiff readers will know that we care a lot for those two traits.
The extensive menu, which is always left open on the burger page, presents all the ‘American-style’ foodstuffs you could ask for (minus pulled pork. Boo!), and we’re fairly certain most will be familiar with it and its accompanying Monday ‘thru’ Thursday lunch offers.
To ‘cut the crap’, as authoritative American figures like to say, we chose the, frankly, irresistible Jack Daniel’s Chicken Strips to start, and the Mondo Burger (well, ‘Monster Burger’) for main, just to see if it could challenge the mighty US to a battle.
Despite being eternally busy, the food flies off the conveyor belt as often as Russell Howard’s Good News reels off “great jokes”. While inconsistent (yeah, we never said this place was perfect); this occasion presented excellently crunchy, sweet chicken strips that our taste buds hugged with childish, slightly camp joy. Unfortunately for our arrogant ‘standards’, we’re absolute suckers for that Jack Daniel’s glaze, and would happily drink barrels of it if it meant starvation would cease to exist. Nobel steeds, that we are.
To say they didn’t last long would be like saying, “The sky is blue, good sir”, because that’s bleedin’ obvious, and the bleedin’ obvious is Captain Obvious’ job, and that’s not what we’re here for.
Mindless rambling aside, the main event arrived as we were, in fact, rambling mindlessly. The Monster Burger was actually bordering monster-esque properties, but with our expertise in fatness, we glared at it resentfully rather than with fear. Nevertheless, the bacon and Colby cheese made for a grilled bite of American delight, and those skin-on fries will seemingly never get old. The great part about the burger was its weight. If we weren’t so obese, we’d have used it as a dumbell. Alas, we’ve better things to do than get into shape, contrary to the myriad of fitness DVDs that celebrities endorse but have never followed; the Nintendo Wii games that improve your health and not Nintendo’s (honest!); and all those warnings about how we’re all going to die of fat cancer if we don’t eat more salad.
So yeah, it’s TGI Friday’s, it’s been around longer than Pat Sharp’s mullet, they’re everywhere and no big deal. All true. Worse, they embarrass birthday folk with a horrible rendition of whatever it is that isn’t, “Happy Birthday” (some things are best left over the pond). However, the service is where TGIF makes its name (sometimes).
The staff are often higher than Vincent Tan’s trousers, but on this occasion we had a substance-free and generally excellent server who took time to speak to us in detail about the menu, travelling, everyday mundane life, while offering us refills for our sodas without prompting and with no hint of inconvenience. Genuinely some of the finest service we’ve had coupled with slightly pricey, yet tasty Yank-based food. And feel free to enjoy the crazy crap on the walls. Can’t argue with crazy crap.
Don’t take our word for it: