Friday, October 9, 2009

TGI Friday’s

TGI Friday’s
5262 S LINDBERGH BLVD, SAINT LOUIS
Oct 4, 2009 6:00 P.M.

The Place
Located at Lindbergh Ave and Baptist Church Road in South St Louis County, it looks like every other TGI Friday’s on the globe. The parking lot was large and almost full. The place looked very, very busy, but a neon sign above the door assured us: “Seating Available”. The hostess greeted us and quickly found us one of the worst tables in the place. It was at the intersection of the bar, the kitchen and the drink station.
The hostess arrived and handed us menus, and said some stuff. I’m not sure exactly what. I was too busy trying to avoid listening to her. She had the high pitched saw-blade voice of a cuddly but loud cartoon character, or as Angel decided, Lacey Chabert
, the girl who played ‘Penny’ in the 1998 Movie “Lost in Space”. She was otherwise professional though so I didn’t deduct any points for my distraction by her voice. I recognize that I am occasionally overly critical about some very petty things and can’t blame others for my own twitchiness.
The place was very, very busy, no empty tables for more than a few minutes. The din was almost relaxing, a white noise that faded into the background. It is a casual sports-type bar/restaurant, so the noise was expected and therefore not a problem. There were several large screen TV’s playing, something… I really didn’t watch. Aside from the constant foot traffic at our intersection table it was quite alright, decorated with flea market canoes, boats, and other assorted rustic but pointless and theme-less bric-a-brac. The stained glass skylight and interior windows were nice, if not a little out of place.
The background music, when it could be heard, was safe and unmemorable, ten to twenty year old pop songs. Too easy, too generic.

The Food
We were served our drinks quickly; once again two ice teas and a Coke. The tea was tasteless and unremarkable, I could tell it had been brewed in a large batch at least an hour before being served. It was also not Luzianne.
The menu was colorful, large and overly complicated. Too many pages, too many pictures. It was more like a collection of cumbersome billboards than a menu. The selections offered appeared quite appetizing though, everything they listed looked good.
I chose the sirloin steak (rare) and cheesy mashed potatoes, Angel ordered from the 'Jack Daniels Grill' page, ribs and shrimp. Adam ordered the All American Chicken Sandwich, hold the onions and tomatoes.
I was already a little disappointed. The choice of ‘sides’ for the steak was extremely limited. Onion Rings, fries, mashed potatoes, cheesy mashed potatoes were all I recall seeing. AND the steak only included ONE side. A small choice of salads was available for an additional $2.79. The steak was already costing me over fifteen dollars; I could not see paying an extra three bucks for ten cents worth of iceberg lettuce and Thousand Island dressing.
The plates arrived in a timely manner. My plate was mostly barren. On it sat a good looking thick steak and beside it there was a small platter containing the mashed potatoes. No garnish on the plate.
The steak was grilled perfectly to order, the waitress even asked me to cut into it to see if they got it right. I did so and on appearances accepted it.
Angel’s larger plate was packed, a rack of ribs, fries and breaded shrimp with a small bowl of ‘Jack’ sauce. Angel found the bowl of sauce unnecessary as the ribs had been saturated with the same stuff already. I tasted the sauce and decided to drizzle a bit on my steak. It was quite good that way.
Adam’s sandwich and fries were delivered in a basket and after opening it up to check for unwanted renegade condiments like onions and tomatoes, he wolfed it down. He seemed quite pleased with it, even though it had a green pepper sauce on it which we did not think he would like.
My steak appeared perfectly cooked; it tasted a little dry though. The sauce helped. I say it tasted dry; I should say it WAS dry. I’ve never had a rare steak that didn’t bleed all over the plate. This one barely bled at all. I suppose the fact that it was ‘aged’ could account for this, but it still seemed dry.
The mashed potatoes were a disappointment as well. They tasted instant, salty and starchy. The ‘cheesy’ appeared to be the application of some shredded cheese on top. If there was cheese IN the potatoes, I could not discern it. Colonel Sanders makes better mashed potatoes at a fraction of the cost.
Then there was the fact that I had nothing else on my plate. Some beans would have been nice, anything would have been nice.(Angel suggested that if we eat there again that Adam should go ahead and accept the tomatoes and onions and give them to me.) Eating this meal seemed to lack a beat. Steak, mashed potatoes, steak, mashed potatoes; repeat… there was nothing else to mix it up with. It was the culinary equivalent of a two string banjo. It just lacked simple depth and diversity.
Angel ate her ribs as if it were her first meal in a while. They were incredibly messy, as ribs are, and the pile of bones started looking like Fred Flintstone’s plate. The shrimp was breaded and fried. TOO breaded. She gave me one, I don’t recall the actual shrimp but I do recall the enormous thick wad of breading, easily as thick as the shrimp itself.
My meal left me feeling unsatisfied. Angel’s left her feeling bloated and thoroughly sugared up. Though the ‘Jack’ sauce tasted very nice in moderation, by the end of the rack of ribs, Angel said she felt like she had just drank a large bottle of maple syrup. That sensation did not go away quickly. The very idea of desert nearly sickened her. Which is okay, we don’t usually get desert anyhow.

The Service
The restaurant was heavily staffed. Young people, mostly girls, in black pants and red shirts. I already mentioned the hostess. The servers, and there were three different ones as I recall, were all friendly, available and they didn’t screw anything up or spill anything. One of them was pleasantly chatty, but not to the point of annoyance. The timing of the meal was excellent, quick, but not too quick, and the check was delivered and returned quickly. The price? Including tip, sixty three dollars and seventy four cents. This was a serious fiscal disappointment. It had cost more than similar fare at Ruby Tuesday’s but Ruby includes one of the most bountiful salad bars around. AND Ruby gives you TWO sides with a steak and a much wider variety of them. Also Jilly’s (previous post) had only cost six dollars more and provided two sides and a bread basket AND the meals are prepared by a real live chef.

Summary

For what it cost there was simply not enough meal. The food served was not really all that great, it seemed manufactured. The rib sauce was too sweet and heavy, the shrimp too bready, the steak plate bare and lifeless. The chicken sandwich rated a ‘fine’ which is pretty much the only rating Adam gives anything. I would only recommend this place for a casual, unimportant meal, and ONLY if there were no Applebee’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, or Outback within ten miles or so. Primarily for the price, but also for the overall un-remarkableness of the food I can only award a barely passing grade of seventy (out of a possible one hundred).

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