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Restaurant review: TGI Friday’s on Orchard Road in Singapore

TGI Friday’s Singapore
#01-K5, 260 Orchard Road
The Heeren
+65 6737 4223

There’s a slice of Americana on the corner of Orchard and Cairnhill: TGI Friday’s, a restaurant that embodies the American dream, from Jay Gatsby to Tony Montana.

With the Fourth of July coming up, where better to celebrate than at one of America’s most famous culinary exports?

A recent dinner at TGI Friday’s began with Parmesan-crusted chicken quesadillas ($11.90), recommended by a staff member. They came stuffed with chicken, tomato, basil and Monterrey Jack cheese, and drizzled with a sweet balsamic glaze. Tasty enough, but the ingredients smacked as much of Europe as of anywhere else.

Far more traditional was a dish of loaded potato skins ($10.90) which hove into sight like a battleship. You ordered big fat potato skins shovelled high with melted cheese and bacon bits? That’s what you got, in uncomplicated spades.

TGI’s began life as the gleam in the eye of a young Lothario-like entrepreneur named Alan Stillman, who purchased a New York bar in 1965 with the motive of meeting air stewardesses.

Sadly, we spotted no one from that profession the night we visited the Singapore outlet.  Nevertheless, the break between starters and mains was enlivened by the wait staff’s boisterous rendition of “Happy Birthday”, featuring the best call-and-response routine since Full Metal Jacket.

After a cursory glance at the salad pages – as if anyone goes to an American restaurant and orders lettuce – we had plumped for steaks. In deference to Stillman’s Big Apple roots, and perhaps with the thought of attracting airline crew still on his mind, my friend tucked into his New York strip ($39.90), a 10oz slice of steak covered in Burgundy butter sauce. Although he didn’t feel that the sauce complemented the very tender meat, the accompanying broccoli steamed in garlic and butter was excellent.

My steak was slathered in a sauce derived from that most American of bourbons: Jack Daniels. Jack and I go back a long way – to my teenage years, in fact, when a JD and Coke seemed the height of sophistication (much to the horror of my single-malt-loving father).

How right it is for JD and steak to meet in a glorious combustion of meat and blended bourbon. Nor did Tennessee’s finest disappoint. The sweetness of the sauce – and you could really taste the bourbon – proved a fine partner to the char-grilled steak ($39.90). For those who don’t have much of a sweet tooth, most of the sauce is served on the side.

A nice touch was that our server asked us to cut our steaks first, to make sure they been cooked to our specifications. Mine was a perfect medium rare (the only way a man should eat his steak); if it hadn’t been, our server assured us, TGI Friday’s would happily have rectified the problem.

We finished off with a Brownie Obsession ($13.90), a rich, thick, melting blob of vanilla ice cream, nuts and chocolate-fudge sauce. A suitable finale for a fine exposition of American casual dining.