For Cinco de Mayo, Ken and I went to Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn to check out the grand opening of the newly renovated TGI Fridays. As you know, I’m usually not a huge fan of chain restaurants, but I did grow up eating Fridays and had my 16th birthday at the restaurant in Champaign, Illinois.
The restaurant in Sheepshead Bay was closed down due to Hurricane Sandy and they spent 18 months completely remodeling it:
It’s one of several locations that will feature the new design, including a large bar area where the bartenders do all kinds of tricks (including throwing a pint of beer in a coaster covered glass across the entire bar!):
There’s also an open kitchen so you can see, hear and smell your food being prepared. This one is right on the water so there is a great view for most tables.
The bar area is really open and has a great energy around it – the President of Fridays was telling me that when the restaurant reopened, the regulars all came back and the place was standing room only 30 minutes after it opened! I can definitely see why – there are flat screen televisions for all sports games, the staff and bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable about their drink menu (30 employees from the original Fridays ended up coming back to work there), and there are specials almost every night.
For the grand opening, they were passing h’ors d’oeuvres around – we sampled almost all of their new (to me) menu items, including the Thai pork tacos:
Ken liked the Thai pork tacos but it was a bit on the sweet side for me. I was a huge fan of the ahi tuna crisps, which were tuna slices on a tortilla chip with guacamole, a jalapeno, and cucumber wasabi ranch:
They were really generous with the slices of tuna and guacamole and it reminded me of something I’d eat at a high end sports bar in the city, not something I could find on the Fridays menu. I was happy to see my all time favorite Fridays appetizer, their potato skins:
These were much more crisp than I remember, which is probably due to the fact that they upgraded the type of potato that they use to deep fry. We could have had a whole platter for dinner. Ken and I also tried several different cocktails, including two recommendations from the really friendly servers. As a kid, I never had any of their alcoholic drinks and don’t remember their non-alcoholic shakes/smoothies, so I was really excited to try all of their new cocktails. I started out with the rum punch:
While Ken had the tropical berry mojito:
Ken’s mojito was refreshing and tasted very natural. The rum punch included a lot of different fruit purees and juices and was a bit too sweet to completely finish without getting a sugar headache.
We decided to sit down for dinner and enjoy the music from the DJ and watch the sunset:
Ken decided to order the Jack Daniel’s ribs and shrimp:
Ken ate the ribs as a kid and said they tasted just as good as he remembered. I thought the meat was flavorful and tender and sparingly used the Jack Daniel’s sauce. Ken, on the other hand, proceeded to dip all of his ribs in the sauce because that’s how much he liked it!
We sat by the kitchen and watched the chefs prepare all of the food:
It’s fun to listen to the bustle of the kitchen and to hear them call out orders – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Fridays with the open kitchen but definitely liked how clean everything was.
I ordered the grilled chicken cobb salad:
Their chicken was well seasoned and drizzled with balsamic glaze. I thought the presentation was okay but I wish they would have cut up the bacon a bit more and made it easier to eat the salad by possibly putting everything in a larger bowl or just chopping it a bit. Otherwise, it was a good semi-healthy pick to make up for all the loaded potato skins I ate (minus that extra bacon!)
Ken liked his mojito so much that he ordered another:
The server brought the shaker to us since we were eating at a table instead of walking around the bar area:
I ordered the gold medalist, a non-alcoholic smoothie that included strawberries, coconut cream, grenadine, banana, and pineapple juice:
Another drink that was tasty but the grenadine and pineapple juice made it too sweet to drink along with dinner.
After dinner, we got to the best part of the meal: dessert. Ken had to order the Oreo madness:
And I ordered the Brownie skillet:
The Oreo madness was really good and had a really creamy and delicious Oreo ice cream in between a freshly crumbled Oreo cookie crust. Their president said that this was one of the menu items they upgraded; they now use real Oreo cookies and improved the quality of ice cream.
I was less impressed with the brownie skillet; the brownie I prefer is more on the fudge-y side with a nice crisp crust (Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, if you’re wondering where to get that kind of brownie). The ice cream on top of the brownie was really delicious, though, especially with the pecans and caramel sauce, but the brownie also had a layer of chocolate sauce and it was just too decadent for me to enjoy (especially since I had a Gold Medalist to help me wash everything down).
We really enjoyed the experience of dining at Friday’s again and both agreed we’d come back next time we are in the neighborhood (it is right by Marine Park Golf Course which Ken likes to play). Nothing like loaded potato skins, a few cocktails and an Oreo madness after a long day. We are happy to see that Fridays is back!