Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Central Valley’ Category

T.G.I. Friday’s

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

Outlet Mall Applebee’s

1/2  "It doesnt look like the picture." Well, of course not. I'm not sure when James got the idea that what shows up on the plate should actually resemble the sparkly semi-appetizing promotional shots. What do you expect from an outlet mall eatery, anyway?

Without intention, the Woodbury Common Applebees has become a Christmas shopping tradition. Some might equate Rockefeller Center, classic shop window displays from Macys and Bloomingdales, the skating rink, giant Christmas tree and the like with the holidays. I'm beginning to associate tour busses, Le Creuset seconds and marked down Gap goods with the season.

Applebees is no great shakes, but compared to the food court offerings (Wasabi Jane's Rice and Noodle Works, anyone?) its no contest. Plus, they have alcohol. And if you go after 7pm the wait isnt even insane (why people will wait up to an hour for chain restaurants is beyond me). I'm not scared of Applebees, even after being told by friends a few weeks ago that this very restaurant (not location) made them go vegetarian two years ago after being food poisoned.

I started with a nice Malibu-spiked Bahama Mama. Classy, and it paired nicely with the nachos, which were kind of unremarkable. I wanted there to be more stuff smothering the chips. Lots of stuff, i.e. melted cheese is practically an Applebees hallmark. I then eschewed the riblets and steak and shrimp combos for a sassy sandwich with Latino flair, Ruebens Cuban Panini. Never mind that by definition a cubano is pressed, people are freaking panini crazy like they were for wraps like five years ago. It wasn't horrible, though the ham had a faint chemical undertone. The bread was the strange (yet tasty) component, it almost appeared deep-fried, crisp, spongy and oily at the same time like a beignet.

And speaking of crunchy, sweet dough, we had to finish with their new dessert the Crispy Bread Pudding, despite already being stuffed silly. It also didn't look like the picture. There wasn't any whipped cream, there wasn't any caramel drizzled over the scoop of vanilla ice cream. The dipping sauce came in a plastic to go container rather than a proper serving dish and we were given two spoons instead of forks. How are you supposed to dip the damn sugar and cinnamon crusted bread chunks with a spoon? I like super sweet sweets, but this concoction almost put me into a coma. Of course, we cleaned the plate anyway. (12/10/05)

Read more