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TGI Friday's Reviewed

John Ryan admires the service and most of the food and drink

Published on September 24th 2012.


TGI Friday's Reviewed

THE Manchester building that was once home to ‘the largest trading room in the World’ is now home to the biggest TGI Fridays bar in the world. 

You’re a hostage to fortune if you describe your burgers as ‘juicy’ and your menu tells your diners ‘these are what napkins were invented for’. 

There was much eye-rolling by Manchester Confidential readers when plans for the chain to open at the Royal Exchange were first announced. “The palace of the cotton lords becomes a burger barn for the shopping hoards,” ranted regular ranter Conman at the time. 

To be fair, it’s not like they’ve ripped out the theatre and filled the domes with air-con. Instead, it is one of the unloved units on the Cross Street side that now accommodates 410 covers, and no fewer than three of the seven ‘master bar-tenders’ in the TGI Fridays world. 

JuicyJuicy raspberry margherita

“We make the best drinks in the city,” says the website. A bold claim in the home of Socio Rehab, Australasia and Corridor. 

TGI Fridays started in 1965 on New York’s East Side and is credited with starting the whole ‘singles bar’ thing. The red and white stripes, Tiffany lamps and central bar styling soon swept the world, and you can currently experience Fridays in sixty countries. 

The interior styling has sharpened up in new sites like this one. The dusty, anachronistic wall stuff of the 90s is gone, replaced by framed pictures of American icons. The lighting is particularly creative. A Harley stands in the reception area, and there’s an installation of the American flag, made up of objects suggesting fun and spending time with people you love - jigsaw pieces, skittles, joysticks and phones. 

Crazy accoutrementsCrazy accoutrements

You’re certainly welcomed at Fridays. 

Every member of the young team we encountered seemed pleased to see us, keen to help, and well briefed on the menu and the restaurant. 

The Fridoids, as they’re known, stayed just on the side of friendly and efficient, rather than that overfriendly style made famous in the brilliant Catherine Tate sketch ‘BBJ’s’. Although one of our waiters did do the Northern Quarter thing of calling me ‘Buddy’ after every sentence. OK if you’re from Boston. Not from Moston. 

Friday's in ManchesterFriday's in Manchester

We started with the onion rings as we waited for a first round of cocktails. These arrived in various sizes, plonked on a plate with no garnish or dips. Delicious though, with just the right Cajun bite, and batter that clung pleasingly to the onion throughout. 

My frozen Raspberry Margherita arrived in a Pilsner glass rather than the bigger Hurricane glass as in the menu. My friend’s gin martini was olive-less. Very decent though. 

Next up, the Times Square Big Share. 

The Jack Daniels wings were juicy and tasty in the signature glaze. The mozzarella dippers looked like something from Iceland but tasted way way better, with their light rosemary dusting. 

The loaded potato skins were a disappointment. A bit dry and strangely flaky, with an inconsistent amount of bacon topping. Sour cream, tomato and basil and more Jack Daniels glaze was supplied to dip, and some celery sticks to ignore. 

Round two of drinks arrived. This time we went for a Singapore Sling and a Blueberry Mojito, both of which were beautifully mixed. 

BurgerBurgerYou’re a hostage to fortune if you describe your burgers as ‘juicy’ and your menu tells your diners ‘these are what napkins were invented for’. Especially if those diners have recently been to Almost Famous Burgers in the Northern Quarter, although to be fair that probably doesn't hold TGI's target audience. 

I ordered the Black and Blue. This came with crispy bacon, blue cheese (sorry, bleu cheese in the style of the Yanklish menu) and blue cheese dressing. With a side of blue cheese dip, in case you hadn’t had enough blue cheese. 

The burger was OK. Sesame bun, a little red onion, a tomato slice and an apologetic lettuce leaf. The blue cheese was virtually imperceptible but the dip was tasty and the burger was well cooked, though not quite as juicy as claimed. 

My fellow diner went for the Cajun Chicken Quesadilla. If, like me, you long for the authentic Mexican experience in Manchester, you’re still longing. This was good as it goes, served with a fresh-tasting pico de gallo salsa and a good spicy chicken filling. But the rice was dry and bland - and there was a lot of it. 

Cajun funCajun fun

We finished with the Cookies and Cream Sundae to share. This is where the Hurricane glasses are being deployed, rammed with vanilla ice cream, Oreos, fudge and chocolate sauce. 

Keen to try more of the cocktail menu, I went for a SKYY High Elderberry. This is a ‘Front Runner’ or speciality and comprised vodka, blackberry liqueur, elderflower, apple and lemon juice. It was a flowery, sweet and surprisingly potent combination. Recommended. 

The bill for three courses and drinks was just shy of £80 for two. 

Families love the Fridays by the M60 in Sale, or at Cheadle Royal, or the Trafford Centre barn. The service at the Royal Exchange location is second to none, and the designers have come up with a mature and comfortable take on New York bars in the fit-out here - if a little ‘clean’. 

But if you’re looking for scale, an American menu and a bit of showbiz, the brand has competition in the Hard Rock nearby. And whatever the menu says, Manchester certainly has better cocktails and better burgers. 

You can follow John Ryan on Twitter here @johnedwardryan 

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE.  

TGI Fridays is at the Royal Exchange, Cross Street, Manchester M2 7DH. 0844 692 8903

Rating 14/20
Food 6.5/10
Service 4/5
Ambience 3.5/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

 

NeonNeon

TGI FridayTGI Friday


 

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43 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

IanSeptember 24th 2012.

Where are the pictures?

1 Response: Reply To This...
EditorialSeptember 25th 2012.

They've arrived now.

big earsSeptember 24th 2012.

I'm not a big fan of brands but I really like it here! Every time I've been the burgers have been great - get the atomic!!!

GordoSeptember 25th 2012.

Good review John and pretty fair; i did have one of the best civilian night outs here with the ManCon crew and got whipped. You are right, there are better examples in Manchester, we seem to be fast becoming the extreme burger of the North, thats for sure, but this is a comfortable, well organised hoot and thoroughly enjoyable.

tblzebraSeptember 25th 2012.

Nicely written John, the cocktails at TGI are fantastic, but 6.5/10 for food? Much of the menu seems to spend time in a deep fat fryer and it's scary you can easily surpass your daily calorific recommended intake in one sitting.

tblzebraSeptember 25th 2012.

This is their USA restaurant info, but most dishes are available here. I've put 3 pounds just by reading this:

www.tgifridays.com/_images/pdfs/Nutritional.pdf…

Poster BoySeptember 25th 2012.

...sentimental for the menu and quality of food they served when TGI's in Sale originally opened. The TGI's of today can best be described as "food court". Awful.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
tblzebraSeptember 25th 2012.

Agreed, I used to love going to TGIs in the early 90s; though they were a franchise even back then. Huge expansion and global standardisation = fast food type offer.

Hero
RevaulxSeptember 25th 2012.

The Sale one was indeed excellent when it opened 20+ years ago, but I haven't set food in one since a shocking experience in Croydon in the late-90s. Reading this review doesn't really encourage me to have another go.

Hero
RevaulxSeptember 25th 2012.

Or even set foot in one

AnonymousSeptember 25th 2012.

totally agree -worked in there in the 90s and i watched it go downhill steadily...not set foot since i left in 2000 (and after seeing how Fridays changed the way the food was brought in and already pre-packed etc...made the food awful...shame. The bartenders back then were the best you could get and fantastic to watch...doubt they could live up to what Sale used to be...

Lorraine ByrneSeptember 25th 2012.

We had tried to book for last Friday. They never replied to our email. Eventually we telephoned to check our reservation. There were 9 of us and they can't accommodate over 8!!! Thought this was pretty poor considering its supposed to be the place to party. They offered to squeeze an extra chair onto our table or split us into 2. Neither was acceptable. We obviously went somewhere else. I think they need to reconsider their seating arrangements. I live near the Sale TGI's and they can easily accommodate large parties - why not the largest one in the world???

AnonymousSeptember 25th 2012.

Walked past this place on Saturday, didn't see it, just smelt it.....deep fat fryers from 20yards away. Disgusting. So many better places than this plastic crap.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AVOSeptember 25th 2012.

How else do you expect fries, onion rings, potato wedges etc to be cooked? If you don't like the style of food, don't go in.

AnonymousSeptember 25th 2012.

Avo.....I expect a proper extraction system. I don't like the style of food and won't go in.
How I would have deduced this without your wise guidance?...I can only wonder

AnonymousSeptember 25th 2012.

5 of us went on Saturday night,first round of drinks while waiting for table(45 mins)fantatic.We were then taken to the table and forgotten about for 20 minutes.Upon asking for sevice we got a bit of an attitude from our server for asking to be served!nearly walked,wish we had in the end as the food was well below par.Did get a 50% reduction on the bill to be fair but would have much prefered a good night.Wont be going back.

AnonymousSeptember 25th 2012.

does chris evans still work here?

lukeunabomberSeptember 25th 2012.

i think SOLITA is the best burger in town by a mile.almost famous comes 2nd{ their fries n sides are brilliant }.Ive just come back from Londons infamous Hawksmoor, which for many is londons finest burger. That said , Solita wins hands down on the meat n burger itself.
for the price and consitency Common is truly ace.gorilla damn good too.common fries are amazing .not tried TGIs yet so will try.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Paul CarterSeptember 25th 2012.

The burgers at Solita are awful. They're overcooked and tasteless. Go to Bar Boloud if you want a good burger in London.

Kris CullineySeptember 26th 2012.

where is Solita?

AnonymousSeptember 25th 2012.

The staff don't dance on the tables any more?

paulSeptember 25th 2012.

I had the misfortune to venture into one of these outlets believe me it wont happen again

AnonymousSeptember 25th 2012.

About as useful as reviewing Frankie and Bennys.

Ghostly TomSeptember 25th 2012.

Went into one of these dreadful joints about 20 years ago. Vowed I never would again and nothing here will entice me into this one. It's an insult to a grand Manchester building. There must be some out of town retail park that needs a burger joint.

1 Response: Reply To This...
GemSeptember 29th 2012.

I think maybe the world and it's TGI's have changed a bit in the last 20yrs ??? I don't remember going in one when I was 6 so can't personally compare with 20yrs ago but my family inc my mum had a great time there last week.The only rant we had was the music was a little too loud for my mum. As for the building , well it looks like it has retained most of it's original architectural features, unlike a number of other great buildings that lie either empty or derelict..... Progress and choice I guess

Poster BoySeptember 25th 2012.

Can anyone see a TGI's Confidential Offer coming? Yeah, me too...

Jonathan SchofieldSeptember 25th 2012.

Poster Boy, have you read the review? Clearly not. It was written without any direction to the writer except to go and review as he saw fit. Didn't even tell him of any commercial relationship just to score it as he felt it merited.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Poster BoySeptember 25th 2012.

Touchy! Please don't insult me. Of course I have read the review. I've also read the rants. This review reminds me of Gordo eulogising about Rosso before he woke and realised he was on the wrong bus.
It's opinion.
I'm looking forward to the Offer anyway...

Poster BoySeptember 25th 2012.

and stop being so precious.

Joanna MastersonSeptember 26th 2012.

Anyone know if the meat is halal? Cant seem to find anywhere these days that isn't!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
paulSeptember 26th 2012.

WTF

Jonathan SchofieldSeptember 26th 2012.

Joanna, what difference would that make?

paulSeptember 26th 2012.

W. T. F.

paulSeptember 26th 2012.

What the F

NazcaSeptember 26th 2012.

Halal doesn't affect the flavour (unless the brief instant of stress has an impact?) but I guess there is a moral question to ask yourself before eating it.

NiaSeptember 26th 2012.

I have been to this Fridays several times and personally feel this is the best restaurant around, I think the decor is lovely and the Bar is massive not to mention the Mixo Bar upstairs.

The staff are fanstastic and sevice I feel is incredible for a city centre, if you want great food, great service you can not go wrong.

I'm not too sure who mentioned the drinks but you can always order the larger ones which I think they are called Ultimates then you get the ones shown in some of the picture's, and I like the way the seats are loads of Booth's understandable it would be hard to sit large parties but hey you can not speak to everyone at the same time can you, you can always take 2 booths like we did for 14 of us.

My party would have rated our visit 9.5/10 and we will be booking for 25 for Our Xmas Party.

Thank You Fridays we love you.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Iain CunninghamSeptember 26th 2012.

You so obviously work there.........Enjoy Xmas

GemSeptember 29th 2012.

We would rate it a 9/10 but lower the music until the evening and it would get a clear 10/10 from us

James KayOctober 3rd 2012.

NIA = Employee alert!

NiaSeptember 27th 2012.

Ha ha maybe if I go in there a few more times they may give me a job !........ Not too sure that my boss would be impressed though but it looks like a fun place to work . Hope you enjoy Xmas too

Angie WrightSeptember 28th 2012.

We went to try the new place out on sat, tried a couple of cocktails too, very impressed. Loving the mixology wotsit ! Lovely staff and very helpful even with a very picky eater. Even though the place was very busy , the guy who served us still took time out to check on us to make sure we were ok (unlike some other nameless place who couldn't be bothered).Will be back very soon. Nice end to a busy day , thanks guys

GemSeptember 29th 2012.

Great place ,food was good (inc the veggie options), music bit too loud for my mum but otherwise great . Really good atmosphere.The birthday song on the stairs was fun !!!!!
Not a rant but was surprised to see some of the earlier comments

1 Response: Reply To This...
James KayOctober 1st 2012.

I get the feeling that you quite like the place Gem; but what did your Mum think about the music?

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