T.G.I. Friday's New Lunch Line-Up Features Good Values and Great Tastes
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
It was already past two o'clock when I was heading out for a late lunch, and I wanted to try something brand new and different. Did I ever find both (and more) at T.G.I. Friday's with their new Lunch Line Up. A lot of my reviews have not elaborated on the service at many restaurants, however, T. G.I. Friday's has some of the most attentive and personable servers I've encountered...these young folks really enjoy their work and they sport be-medaled suspenders to prove it!
When I looked at Friday's menu I was surprised to see the extent of the changes that have been made. I'd been away too long, and now that I was going to have lunch, I had to make a tough decision - of the 7 daily lunch specials ($9.95 with soup & a Pepsi product), which ONE should I choose? I asked my server, Dan, for his recommendation. He suggested that I try the Chicken Finger BLT if I felt like a sandwich or if I was in a mood for something really different, the Tossed Tomato-Basil Chicken, with both being his personal favorites. I perused the menu, scanned their elements, and each sounded so appealing that I was left with no other choice but to order BOTH!
T.G.I. Friday's daily value lunch includes a cup of their Soup of the Day and your choice of any Pepsi product, tea or coffee with free refills. Today's "soup du jour" happened to be Clam Chowder. It was delivered in a handled bowl and I liked how they sprinkled some spices (paprika, pepper, and parsley) and bacon bits on top which gave it a nice coloring. Yet it was my first bite that really made the impression. This was a terrific clam chowder, probably one of the best I've had in a long time. The potato chunks were cooked al dente so they imparted a freshness you don't get with canned chowders or from soggy over-cooked potatoes. The skins were left intact, too, which helps retain their natural shape as well as the many nutrients within. There were also plenty of meaty clam pieces in the chowder. I was impressed.
The Chicken Finger BLT has crispy fried Chicken Tenderloins on toasted Ciabatta bread with Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, and Cheese. This is no ordinary sandwich. I'd label it a "gourmet sandwich", because of it's "pedigree", which is attributed to the Cibatta bread. Ciabatta bread is something you don't see everyday (unless you're at Friday's) and is literally translated to mean "slipper", since that is the general shape of a loaf of Ciabatta. This Italian bread has gained popularity in the United States being a "sourdough" type bread which is made from starter. It has a unique crust and texture, and can be made in several variations. In the sandwich the bread really holds up well, keeping all the ingredients intact. The cheese was Pepper Jack, and I relished the bits of heat I'd get when biting down. The flavor combinations of the seasoned breaded chicken and dressing was spellbinding - I kept eating the sandwich and inspecting it without putting it down until I finished the first half. The chicken breast meat was moist and firm, cooked just right. The meal comes with a pile of seasoned fries and a large pickle wedge.
The Tossed Tomato-Basil Chicken is described as "Fresh Tomato-Basil Marinara Sauce tossed with Linguine Pasta then topped with Chicken and drizzled with Balsamic Glaze." This is yet another gourmet preparation, with two large wedges of Ciabatta bread poised upright next to the pasta. Sliced grilled chicken breast pieces top the linguine and sauce. This was another exceptional taste experience, with the chicken's grilled flavor and juicy meat bringing a lot of life to the pasta. The marinara sauce is thin, but the flavors extend, and there are tomato bits and fresh garlic chunks that accent it's ethnicity. I asked for some additional parmesan cheese and also sprinkled just a pinch of salt to add more taste. I think eating the spicy sandwich first may have influenced my taste buds. Still, the dish was quite good. I even swiped some of the balsamic glaze off the rim of my bowl using a piece of the bread.
Other Friday's Lunch Specials include the World Famous Friday's Burger, the Chicken Caesar Salad, Soup & Salad Combination, Chopped Deli Salad, and Chicken Fingers. All the specials are also available from the regular menu, but may have different prices when ordered during non-special hours. For example, the Tossed Tomato-Basil Chicken is priced at $13.95 when ordered outside of lunch hours. Friday's Lunch Specials are served from 11:30am til 3pm. Additionally, Friday's new menu has some very appealing entrees, such as a Chicken & Shrimp Diablo ($16.95), the popular Sizzling Fajita Tower (Beef & Chicken Combo $16.95), and some decadent desserts, including the notorious Ultimate Mudslide. For reservations, parties and private functions, and even take-out, you can call 647-8443.
T.G.I. Friday's has also opened an outdoor dining deck, which is self-contained. There are parasols on some of the tables to shield diners from the sun. However, the cooler evening hours makes this an ideal location to dine with friends and watch the flow of the people as they go by in cars or on foot. I'll have to come back during the evening hours and enjoy this cafe dining experience, drinking from among Friday's extensive specialty beverage menu. Until then, we'll just keep doing the lunch specials, which are good values with certifiably great tastes.