That’s what you’ll be saying if what you want on the KAF TGI Friday’s menu is actually in stock. Once again, I must point out that we are in the middle of a desert and a war so having shortages of certain foods at a North American-style chain restaurant is a pretty minor inconvenience and I should just accept it like a grown up and move on. But where’s the fun it that?
Whinging aside, a visit to KAF’s TGI Friday’s is a bit of a treat. I recently took some of our logistics staff there in recognition of some excellent work they did. We had a bunch of sea containers to move around and we were told the necessary equipment just wasn’t available. Our loggies, however, know how things work in this surrealistic, barter and good-will based economy. Within hours, they’d managed to get the equipment we needed and even had an extra truck thrown in for a box of Tim Hortons’s doughnuts. Anyway, off we went to TGIF’s.
Through the Looking Glass
As you cross the TGI Friday’s threshold from the sweltering, dusty KAF boardwalk, you suddenly feel like you’ve been magically teleported to a (booze-less) strip mall on the outskirts of Columbus or Kitchener.
I can’t quite figure out the theme of the decor. It runs the gamut from Elvis and movie memorabilia and sporting goods through to, inexplicably, a fibreglass astronaut and giant billiard balls. My suspicion is that this is actually the warehouse for unused TGIF decor from the rest of the locations.
Our waiter arrives. He is smiling, friendly and his English, though heavily accented, was pretty good. His grin does, however, begin to get a bit sheepish as he welcomes us and, rather than reciting the specials as one usually expects in finer restaurants, he lists the many items which are NOT available. On this occasion they include: sauce for the chicken wings, diet soft drinks, near-beer, shrimp, anything with cheese, and whipped cream for the desserts.
He then asked for our drink orders. D ordered one of their signature “Slushie” style drinks which were prominently featured on page 2 of the menu only to find out that they have no crushed ice. The waiter helpfully inquired if cubed ice would be ok. D said “sure” although two things raced through my mind at that point: 1.It’s not really a “Slushie” thing anymore is it? 2. If one has cubed ice and access to a blender, hammer or perhaps a big rock, wouldn’t one be able to come up with some reasonably easy way to create crushed ice?.
As an aside; you see that cherry in D’s “cubie”? Well, he didn’t really want to finish his drink but, oh boy, did he want that cherry. Ya ever see those dog toys you can get that you stick a dog treat into? They’re supposed to keep the dog from getting bored as he tries to get the treat out without the luxury of opposable thumbs. If you have a bored middle-aged man hanging around the house, try using a glass and a cherry for the same effect.
The drink situation became quite confusing when the waiter returned to take our orders. T was less than enamoured of his “Electric Lemonade”. They had somehow managed to make it way too sour and way too sweet all at the same time. I thought those two tastes usually cancelled each other. Anyway, T mentioned that he didn’t like his lemonade and asked the waiter for some water and D, having almost finished his “cubie” asked the waiter for a water as well. The waiter said something unintelligible and the two had a pleasant conversation during which they both pretended to understand each other. Eventually, D resignedly shrugged and said “Ok”. Inexplicably the waiter shortly returned with an ice tea for D and another lemonade for T. It then became clear that they had no water.
In KAF we only drink bottled water. Anyone who’s been to KAF knows that bottled water is EVERYWHERE. There are pallets left all over the base where anyone can pick up a carton of the stuff. How the hell, then, does TGI Friday’s run outta of water when there’s a pallet of it within 30 ft of their door? Just one of the many mysteries of KAF, I suppose.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
For appetizers we ordered the “Three For All” which is supposed to be buffalo wings, potato skins and mozzarella sticks along with a separate order of the chicken strips. What we got was a “Three For All” with buffalo wings, mozzarella sticks and chicken strips. Of course, the potato skins were unavailable due to the cheese embargo which inexplicably did not effect the availability of the mozzarella sticks which, I hope, contained at least some cheese. To their credit I was only charged for one appetizer but it sure wasn’t much food for the six of us. They gave us some of their Tennessee Grilling sauce for dipping and it was better than their regular buffalo sauce. I’d recommend the “Three for All”, not only for the taste but for the suspense as you wait to see what you get.
The most intriguing part of the appetizer was the empty Haagen-Dazs ice cream cups that the dips came in. Oddly, TGI Friday’s doesn’t serve Haagen-Dazs. Where did they come from? Who ate the ice cream? What the hell happened to their regular dipping bowls? Why was all the cutlery engraved with the “Pizza Hut” logo? Mystery upon mystery…
Not a Good Sign
It eventually became time to order our meals. I ordered the Flat Iron steak. Our friendly waiter asked how I’d like it prepared and when I said “rare” an odd thing happened. I could see an incipient Indian head waggle which he managed to hold in check. He was less able to control his combination grimace/chuckle. After he left, J2, who had ordered her Flat Iron medium, informed me that the steaks are often undercooked there so rare means almost raw. Your condescension is noted Mr. Waiter. Are you practicing for a job in a French restaurant?
I was pleasantly surprised to receive my steak done a proper rare. As usual for TGI Friday’s, it was KAF-Awesome. I ordered a side of mashed potatoes as did D and J2. We all vaguely recalled that the menu said they had something added to them but none of us could remember what it was. Neither could we place the not-unpleasant, mysterious flavour they had. The steak came with a lightly steamed and still crunchy piece of broccoli. While it was properly cooked, it was rather nondescript. This was, however, a vast improvement over my visit to this restaurant last year. Veggies were, apparently, in short supply as the vegetable accompaniment for my steak and mashed was french fries. Good thing I like potatoes.
T ordered some pasta that he rather enjoyed once he’d liberally dosed it with Tabasco. M2 had the chicken fingers, and L and D had the Tennesse Grilled Chicken. Despite the shortages, everyone enjoyed their main course.
The One You Can Actually Make Please
Despite their threat to eat two desserts each because I was buying, L and J2 opted to split one
between them as the entrees had been pretty generous. There were two desserts on the menu and it wasn’t really a tough choice as one featured copious quantities of the non-existent whipped cream.in the menu photo. The remaining choice was kinda like a giant chocolate brownie with ice cream (it wasn’t Haagen-Dazs, we asked). It also got rave reviews.
TGI Friday’s is a welcome and not too expensive ($160 + tip for six of us) break from the usual DFAC fare. To avoid disappointment, I recommend you don’t look at the menu until the waiter tells you what isn’t available. The randomness of some of the deliveries to your table coupled with its mysterious idiosyncrasies make dinner at TGI Friday’s an unpredictable evening with some of the best food in KAF.