You can’t properly entertain a sister who has lived outside the U.S. for over a decade without at least one pit stop at a chain restaurant. Never mind that they have a T.G. I. Friday’s in Bristol, things are best experienced in their natural habitats.
We’d spent a killer day trolling around Bear Mountain (I had to squeeze in a bit of nature to appease the outdoorsiness in my sister and her husband. Some would argue that paved trails aren’t exactly super natural but that’s as rough as I get) and Woodbury Common (where I’d already been to the on-site Applebee’s enough times). All that cold weather open air outlet shopping really works up an appetite.
The best part of Bear Mountain were the zillions of ’60s-seeming educational signs dotting the park.
Of course, not enough of an appetite to finish an appetizer and entrée (let alone dessert too, though I was pleased to see they were offering the three courses for $12.99 promotion which probably doesn’t exist in NYC). But that’s not the point. James and I know the excess game–that’s what take out containers are for. Despite not being truly European, British are freaked out by leftovers.
While dwelling on our monstrous portions and Japanese hara hachi bu (wise, certainly. But if I stopped at 80% full, I would never get past the appetizer course) we ordered pink fruity cocktails like the Cosmo ‘Rita. Minor trouble erupted when our waitress asked for ID, “My manager makes me card everyone under 40.” and neither out-of-towner had any on them.
I started having flashbacks to my 22nd birthday with my dad and stepmom at a place called BJ’s Roadhouse. It wasn’t my choice (while chain loving now as an adult, I couldn’t see the humor in the early ‘90s). I hadn’t brought my driver’s license and they wouldn’t serve me beer, not even an O’Doul’s, which I didn’t want anyway. These annual occasions were tough enough to slog through with a few drinks in your system.
I’m fairly certain this was the same birthday where we stopped at a grocery store afterwards and picked up a watermelon (I’ve hated melon since birth) and a sugar free cherry pie. I mean, it was my birthday and I could produce insulin normally so would it kill them to buy a real dessert? (technically yes, but diabetes wouldn’t my render my father a fatal blow for another ten years)
Thankfully, we looked old and haggard enough to have the ridiculous rule waived at T.G.I. Friday’s.
Nachos on the half shell. They evoke traditional topping on individual chip rather than pile of toppings on slew of chips, yet these aren’t chips.
Yeah, I noticed that cheesy bacon cheeseburger was separate from the regular cheeseburger but I didn’t read the fine print. The cheesy was cheesy alright. A whole half-inch round of breaded and fried provolone was sitting atop the patty. Whoa. I should’ve taken a cross section photo but I was in a state of shock. It almost looks like a chicken sandwich from this angle.
We passed on the Cinnabon cheesecake and picked up a dozen doughnuts at Dunkin’ across the parking lot (I’m not a doughnut-crazed person, but British folks seem to like them because they don’t really exist in the U.K.), then called it a night.
The next morning I arose to find a note from my sister left on the dining room table. “Dave is afraid of the leftovers; you can have them.” Oh, foreigners…there’s nothing to fear. Even our cheerful waitress told us that the gooey spinach artichoke dip could be brought back to life in the microwave.
I did wait until later that evening, after I had a few drinks in my system (and the brother-in-law had gone to bed) but you know that I devoured that second-hand hot Tuscan dip and red corn tortilla chips along with the help of my sister. We re-warmed the deep-fried breadsticks we’d brought home too. Anything else would be un-American.
T.G.I.Friday’s * 5 Centre Dr., Central Valley, NY