I am an Australian freelance writer living in Adelaide.
Published November 25th 2011
Something I've learnt about Adelaide since moving here just over a year ago is that everything comes to Adelaide eventually. Crust pizza - tick. Krispy Kreme (opening in the new year) - tick. Zara (famed young women's European clothing label at Burnside) - tick. The latest 'tick' is TGI Fridays, an American-style restaurant franchise that only operates in Victoria - until this weekend. Tick.
Having dined there several times during my life in Melbourne, I am one of few who knew what to expect when building commenced at Marion a few months ago. This week, we were lucky enough to attend a mock training service, which demonstrates how seriously this company is about employing the right staff who strive to ensure a faultless experience.
Inside, the restaurant looks fantastic. Red leather seats house cosy semi-circle booths, rows of long tables in straight booths for larger groups and square tables for couples. Paraphernalia covers and colours the walls. Electric guitars and a photo of a young David Bowie hung next to ours, as well as a real jukebox to the side. Although the restaurant wasn't full, the room became very loud very quickly so I think you'd be shouting over each other if you came with friends on a weekend.
Our meal consisted of an entrée to share and a meal each, where we had to select one item from each category (to enable the chef as much practise cooking the most popular meal choices in each section). We chose the entrée of Mac and Cheese Balls ($15.95 for six balls) which is what it's called. Imagine elbow-shaped pasta drenched in cheese sauce and deep fried into a ball of gooey, heart-disease inducing goodness. Yum.
Our mains included a Caesar salad with chargrilled chicken ($20.95), a Jalapeno Burger ($18.95) and Chicken Quesadillas ($16.50). Each meal was so filling and the serving large that none of us needed dinner that night.
About half the bottom of the bowl that the Caesar salad came in was shredded Cos lettuce. The chicken sat in strips on top, with the halved boiled eggs, bacon and croutons showered around it. You can also order it without chicken or with prawns or salmon. There wasn't loads of chicken but enough for a lunch meal.
The Jalapeno burger came with a meat pattie, melted Montery jack cheese, Pico de Gallo (a Spanish salsa with tomatoes, onion, chilli and cucumber), roasted green chilli sauce and topped with plentiful slices of jalapenos on a fresh bun. It seemed odd to me to serve it with a side of guacamole. The side of fries were very disappointing. They weren't golden and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside but looked cheap and dry.
The Quesadillas were like a tortilla wrap cut into quarter triangles, making it easy to eat. The tortillas were filled with chicken pieces, the sweetest caramelised onions, Montery jack cheese, bacon, tomato, coriander and green chillies. Being the woos that I am, I kept getting bursts of chilli that thankfully luckily I could cool down with the indulgent sides of sour cream, guacamole and salsa.
The service was impeccable, as one would expect during a mock service, but it didn't seem put on. We were assigned the same waitress for the duration and she was extremely patient when we tried to decide our mains, was honest in her admission that she was still learning to master carrying multiple plates on each arm and attentive in refilling our soda (soft drink) glasses when nearing empty as often as we needed, free of charge, which is an everyday deal at TGI's.
We will definitely be introducing TGI's to all our family and friends so watch this space for more reviews. Come to think of it, I have a work Christmas party there next weekend and I can't wait to try some cocktails and dessert.