Living in Brighton, I don’t often go out of my way to a chain restaurant; so I was a little apprehensive when TGI Fridays got in touch*.
Growing up I never had a TGI near me, so when I finally went to one when I was about 18 I remember feeling disappointed. Huge, meaty portions, but for me it always seemed to lack flavour. I do remember however, generally strong appetiser, dessert and cocktail menus – the sort I might find myself craving and often unable to find elsewhere. There are not enough mozzarella sticks in Brighton, I’m just saying.
So, what the hell, I thought. I had a moving date coming up and knew we would have some very hungry helpers.
TGI Fridays at Brighton Marina
After about four hours of lifting, dismantling and manoeuvring, my four guests and I arrived, sweaty faced and craving carbs. We were seated in a booth and immediately ordered drinks – three Budweisers, a Barnamint Baileys and a Cheeky Ginger (cocktail). FYI if you’ve never had a Barnamint Baileys you are missing out.
Diving straight into appetisers, Brandon and I shared some mozzarella dippers and chargrilled pork belly (with a Jack Daniel’s glaze, chilli, sesame seeds and apple slaw). I found the presentation of the mozzarella dippers somewhat odd, but they were tasty nonetheless with a satisfying cheese pull. The pork belly was juicy and succulent, with a fresh crunchy slaw.
I’m not ashamed to say I really went for it next, ordering the French Dip burger and upgrading my fries to the loaded kind – smothered in cheese and bacon. The French Dip burger comes inside a brioche bun, topped with melted Swiss cheese and a pot of gravy on the side. I was really surprised by how soft and tender the patty was, with a good, sturdy and slightly sweet bun. The fries were crisp and salty, with a good amount of bacon packed in – I would have liked a little more cheese, but they were incredibly filling either way. Plus the gravy made a great dipping sauce for them.
Around the table we also had two cheeseburgers, a full rack of ribs and a well topped veggie burger that I can’t remember the name of (as it’s no longer on the menu).
Although reflecting the usual TGI Fridays diner theme of red vinyl and rockstar paraphernalia, the Marina restaurant is somewhat stripped back compared to most others. It suits it too and, with the glass front letting a lot more light in, creates what feels like more of a “grown up” environment.
It’s easy to see what makes TGI Fridays a third place for so many different groups of people: birthday parties, friends enjoying sharers and cocktails, family dinners and teens on independent evenings out. I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest lunch or dinner here with my two younger sisters, with lots of offers on throughout the week, exciting appetiser and dessert menus, plus free refills. The menu is extensive, and it does feel like TGI have worked hard to improve the quality of their food over the last few years. I’d like to see some more vegetarian options on the main menu that don’t just involve “grilled vegetables”, though.
*I was invited to TGI Fridays to review the menu in exchange for restaurant vouchers. However, all opinions are my own as always!