T.G.I. Friday’s Union Square
I broke my no-new-restaurants-during-opening-week rule because world-famous chains are above the law. And the controversial without cause Union Square T.G.I. Friday’s (nothing new–NYC is already home to eight and the poor restaurant is a native New Yorker) was the perfect birthday setting for a fellow aging chain-lover. Luckily, I am blessed with a few (just a few, mind you) friends who can appreciate a Jack Daniel's steak and Electric Lemonade as much as a dry-aged rib eye and limoncello.
Community activists, take note. Try as they might, the gay pride promotions and DJ playing Bel Biv DeVoe and New Edition, weren’t exactly wooing the crowds. I’ve never seen a major chain so empty in the city or the suburbs, though most of the seats at the bar were taken. My theory has always been that more locals than tourists patronize these NYC chains, but I might have to rethink that.
While I’ve knocked back a few wine coolers in my day, the ultimate underage elixir, Long Island iced tea, has eluded me thus far. This was my chance, and oddly, I was carded despite being very much over-age. T.G.I. Friday’s not only claims to have invented the everything-in-the-liquor-cabinet-cocktail that doesn’t actually contain any tea, they also had a disproportionate amount of drinks revolving around tea and sugar: SoCo (that would be Southern Comfort) Peach Tea, Ruby Mo-Tea-To and Sun-Spiced Tea, for example. I hate sweet tea, Snapple, Arizona and anything resembling these beverages, so one Long Island iced tea was sufficient. It's off my bucket list.
Mini-burgers, no, not sliders, were inoffensive. Meat, bacon, melted cheese with a bbq dipping sauce are not the harbinger of Manhattan's demise.
Nachos done daintily, and traditionally, each chip a standalone hors d'oeuvres slathered in refried beans and fused with a thick layer of cheese. I kind of prefer a big gooey mess to pick through.
While it's not obvious at first glance, the menu at T.G.I. Friday's isn't terribly diverse. Most of the dishes revolve around chicken, shrimp and/or steak, and melted cheese is rampant. Applebee’s is more creative. Yeah, I just typed that. Oh, an Applebee's executive chef just won an award—the coveted 2010 Chefs of Grey Poupon—so you know it's true.
This is one of the classic Jack Daniel's combos: ribs and shrimp, and a two big scoops of mashed potatoes like starchy ice cream. The sweetish sauce and mildly spiced rub are a notch up from Dallas BBQ, and let's leave it at that. No one saunters into a T.G.I. Friday's thinking it's Hill Country.
A built-in wall shelf was completely bare minus a little reminder of the previous tenant. The bamboo didn't prove so lucky for Zen Palate.
T.G.I. Friday's * 34 Union Square E., New York, NY