Friday’s Revisited

It’s been years since I last visited Friday’s. Seemingly cast by the wayside in favor of the newer restaurant chains, it’s a far cry from when it first opened in the early ’90s and succeeded in smashing all occupancy records. Since then, Friday’s branches around the city have opened and closed, and for a long while, I didn’t hear anything more about them.

Last Friday, I decided to go back to Friday’s (ooh, how apropos!) just to see how it was doing. I pass by there every time I go to the gym, and it’s always deserted, so you can imagine my surprise when I ended up waiting 30 minutes for a table! My Bin commented that the restaurant’s new advertising promotions seemed to be working, since their ads are now visible on TV too. Good for them. From what I saw, people didn’t even mind being set up at a table outside the restaurant. Of course, we wanted to sit inside and immerse ourselves in the raucous ambience.

Friday’s hasn’t changed at all: still the same crowded place with outrageously dressed servers channeling their inner Goth or Bozo the clown. Boisterous renditions of “Happy Birthday” are still sung to thrilled teens or terrified birthday celebrants. You either put up with the noise or stay away from this place. It’s part of the atmosphere, really. It would be a mistake to come to Friday’s hoping for some semblance of a relaxed meal. This is a place where “fun” is literal. And loud.

The food is still terrific. For a time, I got the impression that the food was deteriorating and the portions were getting smaller, but boy, it’s come full circle. My Bin and I were happy with the Down East Fisherman’s Platter (P625): literally a platter, of shrimp, calamari, and white fish battered, fried, and served with fries, coleslaw, tartar sauce, and an exceptional cocktail sauce. I must say that the fish that came with this dish was impeccably fresh and soft – it reminded me of the fish and chips that my Bin and I ate by Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia. Outstanding. I can only hope that other people will feel the same way.

Here’s Friday’s World Famous Barbecue Burger (P295 – I asked it to be cooked to medium) smothered with melted cheese, battered onion rings, and the restaurant’s signature bbq sauce. It came to me looking a bit homely, small even, but once I cut it in half (I had to share it with my Bin, you know), I could only gasp at the mammoth it was. The meat-eater in me rejoiced: succulence and juiciness with every beefy bite accompanied by the occasional crrrunch of the lone onion ring. Hoo-ah! I love my meat.

I’m a French fry fanatic capable of spotting fake fries a bite away. Friday’s fries are happily, real potatoes with some skin still on, crunchy and well-seasoned. Some parts are perhaps too salty, but there’s that inherent thrill of not knowing. Only your mouth will tell you.

Friday’s is famous for this one dessert, Oreo Madness – an Oreo cookie wanna-be that’s been supersized and slapped with loads of vanilla ice cream. Result: a mondo ice cream sandwich enthusiastically garnished with chocolate sauce and caramel. You either order one piece (P145) or two (P265). Sadly for us, the restaurant had run out of them.

Feeling adventurous, my Bin and I went for the Banana Split Pie (P275). It’s an ice cream trio of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate layered on a Rice Krispies® crust, topped with marshmallows and peanuts. Every other spoonful or jab of my spoon would yield a wayward banana slice (rock-hard) or salted peanuts, which I thought worked well with the sweet-cold combination. My Bin didn’t particularly care for it, saying that he would’ve preferred the peanuts to be unsalted. The Rice Krispies® crust was an innovative touch, but it was tough (makunat). That didn’t stop us from demolishing the whole darn thing, however.

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