February 2017 marks the sixth anniversary of my eating adventures and, as ever, I'm excited about what the coming months will bring for us foodies! In case this is your first visit (if not, welcome back), I'm a 30-something female with a very healthy appetite!...I promise to share with you my experience of each restaurant, café or bar in which I set foot...so, let's go out!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

TGI Friday's - Cabot Circus, Bristol

Founded in New York City back in the 1960's and with well over 900 outlets worldwide, you may be surprised to learn that I'd actually never set foot in a TGI Friday's*. For, what's coined as 'casual dining' is, in my view, really rather pricey; the multitude of alternative chain restaurants gracing our fair city offering what I’d previously considered better value-for money for fare of a comparable quality. Consequently, the newest branch of TGIFs in Bristol's Cabot Circus (which opened its doors in the Summer of 2013) had, for me at least, remained untouched. That is, until I received an offer I simply couldn't refuse.... 

The Invitation:
Do you lie in bed craving a relationship you can really sink your teeth into? 

Are you looking for romance of the incredibly meaty variety?

TGI Friday’s invites you and a friend to a saucy evening of hot love, BURGER BLIND DATE.

We’ve arranged a line-up of our sexiest new hand-crafted burgers who are all dying to meet you – but choosing your lover for the night won’t be as simple as love at first sight. Forget Cilla Black, you’ll be choosing the burger who gets you hot under the collar by reading about their naughtiest personality traits, seeing who tickles your pickle and taking the plunge. In Burger Blind Date every one of our sizzling suitors is a boom fitty, so what have you got to lose?

If you’re game, come down to TGI Fridays Cabot Circus on Thursday 24th April at 6:00pm, pluck up some Dutch courage with a cocktail or two on us and ‘meat' the love of your life. Just RSVP to this email with the name of your +1 to let us know that you’re coming.

We’ll see you soon for some cheeky back-room action!

Lots of lovin’,
TGI Friday’s 

In the subject line was a disclaimer reading: 'Fun warning: This may be the best email you'll receive all weekend'...and it was...it really was! Accordingly, here is my account of the evening that followed....
The Cocktails: 
First stop...the bar and although sticky menus brim with a vast assortment of concoctions, our server encouraged my dining companion and I to allow him to recommend a cocktail (from a bank of over 500) based on our preferred base spirit. My affinity with gin landed me the Maverick Aviator (£6.99); a delicate fusion of Bombay Sapphire, violet and maraschino liqueurs and the zing of fresh lemon which had been finished with a light (alcoholic) foam; genius! For my friend, the Hinky Dink (£6.99) which muddled Bacardi eight-year-old rum with generous measures of Captain Morgan and Grand Marnier. The splash of lime juice and slurp of almond syrup completing the brew, appropriately balancing the boozy kick with a sweet-noted warmth.

Later, we found ourselves with a classic French Martini and a fruity twist on a frozen margarita which established my new mantra that a cocktail simply isn’t worth the graft unless you have to support its weight with both hands! That said, should cocktails not be your bag (come on, really?!) you should know that there are a multitude of alternative beverage routes to sip; beers, bubbles, wines, mocktails, milkshakes…the list is endless. 
Burger Blind Date: 
With the traits of each contestant in-hand, it was time to select our partner in gastronomical gluttony and, usually priced between £9.99 and £13.49, its fair to say that high expectations were steering us towards the most outlandish ‘traits’ in the mix. I opted for lucky contestant number two (see description below) which manifested itself as Friday’s double glazed Jack Daniel’s burger which was sweet and smoky, slathered with Monterey Jack cheese and topped with Jack Daniel’s candied bacon and Friday’s mayo. With a generous side order of sweet potato fries, this was a serious plate of food; attractively plated yet piled high; each element absolutely spot-on in terms of its execution. My dining companion chose contestant number eight, the mystery meal which constituted a toasted brioche bun which had been layered with a mix-up of beef steak, peppers, jalapeños, fried onion and that legendary Jack Daniel’s drizzle. He accompanied his burger with the chilli cheese fries which, for me at least, depicted a meal in itself! All in all, I’d suggest that the dishes we’d received suitably demonstrated the intended theme; namely the wow-factor of an American grill, (cue gutsy portions and unmistakable carnivorous appeal). This theme has also been channelled into the service which was enthusiastic and, at times, a little over-attentive. If you're a person who prefers limited interaction with those that wait your table during dinner, perhaps this establishment isn't for you. If I'm honest, I was kinda relieved that I didn't have to witness the 'carnival' that erupts in the event of a birthday! 

Contestant Number Two!
Contestant Number Eight

Don't panic, the filthy innuendo above will be gone by the time you visit...you can still bring your Grandparents!

Something Sweet: 
How we managed to tackle a pudding after the nom-fest that had taken hold thus far was quite an accomplishment and yet, we felt compelled to share the Popcorn Brownie Sundae which was choc-full of, yep you guessed it, warm brownie chunks and crunchy, toffee-glazed popcorn. Swirled with hot fudge sauce, creamy vanilla ice cream and topped with ‘proper’ whipped cream – nothing synthetic here, folks – this really was an indulgent end to an extravagant evening of what can only be described as food porn! 
In Conclusion:
And there you have it, the unashamed yet seedy reasons for my visit; a visit which confirmed a couple of my preconceptions and yet, allowed for an overhaul of my TGIF virginity and in doing so, led me to experience first-rate service, a passion for mixology that, in my view, simply cannot be rivalled by any other chain restaurant and seriously satisfying fare. Yes, it is a little cheesy and it may well set you back rather more pennies than its neighbouring eateries but for the quality that ensued, it really is worth the hit...I'd sum up TGI Friday's as a chain with a brain given that it can suitably cater for anyone. I mean, despite the vast selection of dishes/cocktails on the menu (which doesn't often denote a positive outcome in the quality versus quantity stakes), knowledgeable servers can help you make an informed decision based on your basic wants, preferred ingredients and of course, any dietary requirements. And so, with framed photographs of our #burgerface action shots in hand, my dining companion and I left with full tummies and a lasting impression of an establishment that really aims to please…as blind dates go (and I’ve been on a few), this has to be the only one which really made me swoon!
Ready for the launch...!
Feel the gurn...!


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