Blanchardstown Shopping Centre,
Ok, so before I begin this week’s blog I have a confession. It won’t come as a big surprise to those who know me, but I’m a bit of a food snob. A big, fat, judgmental, chain restaurant-hating snob.
I don’t hate everything about chain restaurants. Take me to Burger King, hand me a bag of the Chilli Cheese Bites and I’m a happy woman. I love them. So cheesy, so hot, so wrong…. don’t judge me, I already judge myself. But a bag of €2 bites eaten on the hoof is one thing, a burger I’m about to pay more than €15 for is another entirely.
This week most of us were lightly hungover, and what was needed was something familiar, local and most importantly, known for massive portions. I could accept that these burgers might be frozen, that the chips come by the bag, that the burger sauce comes in by the gallon, because I also knew that it was close to my house and the portions would be monstrous.
So with that in mind it was with low expectations and insatiable hunger that we set off for TGI Fridays in Blanchardstown Shopping Centre. I would normally avoid somewhere like this on an early Sunday evening – in my mind it’s where parents take their kids for a Sunday treat, the kids in turn like to run around being noisy and generally disruptive, the music turned up to drown out the noise of kids hopped up on meat and sugar – not ideal with a hangover. When we arrived there were actual hoards of them – worst case scenario perfectly imagined. Given how child-unfriendly we as a group probably appear, I was pretty surprised to be seated next to a full-on children’s party table, especially when there were plenty other empty tables available. However that’s my own issue. I could have asked to be moved but I didn’t. As is happened the kids were surprisingly well-behaved and the music level was tolerable.
Minor gripes aside, I should really get down to an actual review.
We started off with an order of the buffalo wings that TGI’s are famous for. They were lush, crispy-skinned and fearsome spicy. Even Ryan, notoriously fussy about messy food he has to eat with his hands, managed to enjoy them without too much complaint and lack of cutlery. Sadly, our burgers arrived before we had managed to finish them and given the lack of dining table real-estate we had to send them away unfinished.
The burgers were OK. Not the best we’ve had by any means, but they were massive which was exactly what I’d hoped for in the circumstances. I went for the ‘Bruce Lee’, an Asian-inspired burger which was really tasty, but would have been improved if it was still hot, and if it didn’t have the onions on it which I’d asked to be removed. Rory was also missing the extra burger he had asked for. Our waiter was friendly, and full of quips and witty banter, sadly I think this came at the expense of writing down the order properly. The place was pretty busy and he seemed to be rushed off his feet, but 2 out of the 3 burgers we ordered came out wrong. Ryan did enjoy his Memphis burger with pulled pork but said that the burger on its own was bland and under-seasoned. I agree. The saving grace of mine was that it was so spicy I couldn’t taste how flavourless the actual burger was. I expect that the burgers are bought in frozen, and in a place that size with their turnaround it’s hardly surprising. As I’ve already mentioned though, given the price that is a little disappointing.
What I was most hopeful about were the Chilli Cheese Fries. And sadly these were the most baffling item that came. In my greedy little mind’s-eye I had imagined something with rich beef chilli and oozing with melty cheese. Or… or maybe in my wildest dreams, a deconstruction of the Chilli Cheese Bites from Burger King that I hold so dear,smothered over the top of some freshly-cooked fries. What I got was dry minced beef cooked in sweet Jack Daniels BBQ sauce, scattered over fries, smothered in mustard and sprinkled with large chunks of raw onion. It looked like leftovers before I even started it. I didn’t find any cheese for ages, until I realised that it was melted into an oily clump underneath the rest of the toppings. There may have been chilli in there, but since it was left largely uneaten, I didn’t notice. I was genuinely saddened by these chips. This may or may not have been coincidental with the hangover. On the other hand, regular fries and sweet potato fries went down a treat. Ryan even said that these might even be his favourite fries from the Burger Club adventures so far!
I have to give credit where it’s due. Although the the orders were wrong, and the less said about those terrible Chilli Cheese Fries the better, we pointed out the lack of extra burger to our friendly waiter, and this was removed from the bill, as were our drinks in compensation. Which was a nice gesture.
Overall, this place was an expensive average. It filled a hole, but I wasn’t pleased or particularly satisfied. I wouldn’t voluntarily come back for the same, especially not at a whopping €18 for a burger and chips. Perhaps other menu items are better, I won’t know because I doubt I’ll repeat the experience to find out. It’s also worth noting that the bill comes with a service charge that is not passed onto the wait staff.
Sides 4/10 (Those fries were made of sadness)
Service 7/10 (Points off for wrong order in the first place)
Overall Score 5.5