For the uninitiated TGI (Thank-God-Its) Fridays is an American restaurant and bar chain boasting 20 years in Australia and has over 900 locations around the world. If you have visited America, you will know that they offer a saloon-sports bar style environment with a selection of steaks, burgers, wings and cocktails and great deserts. It's a no-brainer venue - the menu is pretty consistent wherever you go.
The 'fingerlicking' tasting menu consisted of a variety of chicken wings, from mild and sweet to hot and fiery and three new chicken burgers, and Providence craft beer and cider. The Habenaro wings were very, very hot for my palate but would please the hot wings 'connoisseur'. Celery helped stop my tongue from evacuating my mouth, but a nice blue cheese dressing or aioli may have also helped to ease the fire. The Providence craft Lager and Cider were nice and light bedfellows to the wings and burger menu.
The burgers arrived in Mild, Medium and Hot with the Chimichurri Chicken Burger with Asian Slaw(Mild), Fried Chicken Burger with Apple Slaw and Blue Cheese dressing (Medium) and the Kimchi Fried Chicken Burger (Hot).
My favourite burger was the Chimichurri Chicken Burger with Asian Slaw - it had a nice balance of flavours, fresh chicken breast (not fried) and mild with not heat. The Kimchi Chicken Burger was very hot (as expected), and the Fried Chicken Burger with Apple Slaw and Blue Cheese dressing was middle of the range. To attract a more sophisticated palate, the lettuce and tomato needs to be replaced with avocado, spinach, cucumber or radish.
The major selling point of the Melbourne Central TGI Fridays is the location high up on Level 3 opposite from HOYTS cinemas. The restaurant is easily accessible by escalator and lift with great city views of RMIT City campus and the State Library of Victoria.
Balcony seating with view of the State Library of Victoria
However, on a cool 35-degree evening in Melbourne, I did find the venue rather warm. I put this down to the huge glass windows on one side which give the city views, and the doors were open to the outside balcony too. So, air conditioning may need to be looked at particularly if Melbourne starts to hit 40 temperatures over the summer months. A great winter venue, and let's face it, winter is pretty much 9 months of the year in Melbourne. Those big glass windows will provide warm respite for cold and hungry bodies retreating from the busy city to bask like cats in the sun.
The venue is perfect for parties and functions, even a wedding. There are various seating options, intimate booths, small tables, long tables and the outdoor balcony deck style seating. There is a fabulous cocktail and spirit menu with weekend specials, and of course a great regular food menu with a variety of steaks, burgers, seafood and desserts. You can eat and drink and quietly watch television keep up with the sports scores without disrupting your party posse. TGI Fridays also has a Kids Menu and is open 7 days a week, 364 days of the year (including public holidays) except Christmas Day.
Although I enjoyed my night at TGI Fridays I did have to wrestle with my inner Gordon Ramsay about a few hospitality hygiene and service matters, which may have just been 'one-off' event related. The staff were lovely however, the white side plates were scratched, chipped and served cold. Some of the food was semi-warm by the time it reached the table - which indicated it was prepared earlier in the day. The fries were flavoursome but soft and limp, rather than crisp and hot as the oil they were fried in. The service was a little slow for a Tuesday night and the restaurant was busy, but not full.
Besides those matters, I would recommend checking out TGI Fridays; it is a reliable and easy choice for inner city dining, or a party, with lots of seating, drinking and eating options and is centrally located above Melbourne Central Train Station and near city trams.