Being a food writer has led me to some unexpected places. Shooing a half blind turkey into a barn with a stick. Watching two grown men play with jelly. Talking about dole money over eggs with a Masterchef judge. None of these were more unexpected however, than a morning tasting the new TGI Friday’s burger menu at its Watford branch.
I’ve always quite liked the American restaurant chain that brought Jack Daniel’s glaze over the Atlantic. In fact, jump back thirteen years, a few months and a few miles south of London, and you’d find a fourteen-year-old me having a grand old time on my birthday. My expectations were, of course, different then. I just wanted one of the ‘cool’ waiters to fancy me, an ice cream cookie sandwich for pudding and my mum to let me have one cocktail (or at least let me and my best friend share one).
Being a rather massive burger fan and most certainly not a food snob, I am pretty open to any offer of a patty slapped between two halves of a bun. But, tbh, I didn’t expect much from TGI’s – even if the guy behind this menu re-jigging, Terry McDowell, has spent two years researching every burger from here to Beijing.
Eight burgers, a sleepy train ride home and a skipping of dinner later and I have to report that, whilst I didn’t love every single one, they were pretty good. This is a huge chain, selling over 2.4 million burgers a year, all of which have to be pre packaged and sent around the country. They were never going to better those lovingly hand crafted at Lucky Chip. But, you have to hand it to ‘em they’ve put in the effort with McDowell tasting over 300 to get to this final menu of nine.
The Inferno – a juicy patty topped with mozzarella, jalapeños, chilli mayo and a kicking Habanero sauce served hot – looked and tasted great.
The Monster – a massive 12oz beast with bacon, Colby cheese (which worked brilliantly), onion rings – will to appeal to those (like me) who suffer from bouts of gluttony.
But would I, when not in London and faced with GBK, Byron and TGI’s, consider the latter now?
Once I digest the first lot… absolutely.