4 days done, 3 days to go of TGI Fridays week — #TGITuesdays
Today was the midpoint of my quest. I have passed the point of no return.
Powered by a full day’s nourishment of one apple, two cups of coffee and four liters of water, I departed for dinner in the rain. This particular Fridays is just outside Penn Station (see Sunday’s review of that location), mere blocks from Times Square. The proximity no doubt inspired the LED marquee outside, declaring a happy hour that had already ended.
I spotted the sign seconds after surfacing from the subway and swore instinctively. I strode forwards shaking my head, determined as if returning to the gym for a fourth day in a row, set for another rough workout. Cue the steak dinner.
211 West 34th St, New York, NY 10001
Yelp rating: 2.5
Meal for the day, 7:15–9:15 pm
My friends Mark and Elena + me
What (I ordered)
- Shock Top beer
- Ultimate Long Island Iced Tea
- Flat Iron steak, 8 oz, medium rare
- Side of mash potatoes
- Side of fresh spinach
- Boneless barbecue chicken wings (Mark’s order)
…was the food?
This being hump day of the eating week I decided to go big and ordered a full steak dinner with sides of spinach and mashed potatoes. My taste buds told me:
- steak = juicy, tender, well-seasoned
- spinach = soggy, good cheese
- mashed potatoes = creamy white salt (once cooled, double emphasis on the salt)
Mark and Elena, whose palates are more refined and taste buds not daily battered, informed me:
- steak = medium well, not medium rare, topped with Mrs. Dash
- spinach = canned
- mashed potatoes = powdered, served with an ice cream scoop
Mark’s second round of boneless barbecue chicken wings arrived after he left (see …the service? below), and I enjoyed them. They’re chicken tenders in maroon simple syrup, and they make for a fine dessert.
The Shock Top was served to me at the bar in a cold pint glass, and I appreciated that. The Ultimate Long Island Iced Tea is the first item on the menu, and it’s strong and sweet enough to satisfy anyone with a fake ID.
This location was the biggest, brightest and busiest yet.
Like all Fridays, it has a easily overlooked but unique interior decoration. The theme was American and TGI Fridays history. (The restaurant started in 1965, so there’s not too much ground to cover.) The execution was aesthetically passable and substantially confusing. Note the figurines of Presidents Nixon and Clinton above the bar:
Out of frame are figurines of the Blues Brothers done in the same style. I wonder who else that sculptor includes in the pantheon of American historical figures — Bugs Bunny, Malcolm X, the 1995 Chicago Bulls?*
Framed photos and memorabilia are hung in clusters at regular intervals around the restaurant, each centered around a framed “FUN FACT” about TGI Fridays’s number of domestic and international locations at that point in history. The trouble is that there are no years on these signs and the adjacent items give no clues as to the date. The cluster on the wall by our table was four mirrors, a grainy photo of an intersection and “FUN FACT: TGI Fridays grows to 239 locations domestically and 20 worldwide.” I’m trying to appreciate your history, Fridays — who else in that restaurant, or in the city for that matter, can say that? — but you’ve got to help me out here. I can’t estimate years in the second half of the 20th century based solely on the count of TGI Fridays locations. Maybe I’ll be able to by Friday.
The bathroom was a welcome change to the avant-garde water closets of the past three days. It was comprised of one urinal, one stall, one sink: everything automatic and clean. The only oddment was a street sign tucked behind the trash can that read “1st Ave and 63rd St,” which is the cross-street of the first Fridays.*** It was comforting to know that even the stray element in the bathroom was on theme.
* If you find any of these on the internet please send them
c/o Foresight Factory
55 Broadway, Suite 321
New York, NY 10006.
** That would be one of those Jeopardy! categories none of the contestants gets the hang of and after the $1000 clue passes with no buzz-ins Alex states the answer slowly, repeats it to elicit a laugh and then encourages everyone to move on: “There are five categories left to play!”
*** The location of the original Fridays is now a pub called Baker Street where I hope one day, many wheat- and meet-free weeks from now, to drink.
Slow. This was the first time I had to wait to be seated, and once seated the few pluses the food were canceled by the wait for the kitchen service. At least, this was Mark’s fair assessment of the dining experience. I knew the service was slow, but I dedicate my time to Fridays each day to eat, absorb and reflect. I’m in no hurry when I’m there. He left before the second round of endless appetizers arrived, and Elena and I got to enjoy that next level of eternity together.
The slow service is not the fault of the nose-ringed, ponytailed, black-capped Amanda R, who was even friendlier than Mizan K yesterday. She cautioned me against ordering steak fries and patiently endured Elena’s deliberation and questioning about cocktails and appetizers.
…am I feeling now?
Full, fat and little loopy from staying up late to finish writing this.
Emoji Haiku Executive Summary
Just three more to go. Good night!