May 13, 2016

On my return from Vegas at the New Year, I’ve been hard at saving to plan for a house move (estate agent fees aren’t cheap and sofas don’t buy themselves).

So I decided to treat myself for a full day dedicated to clothes shopping at The Trafford Centre, as a reward for not dipping in my savings throughout this year.

Apart from a loss of self control when I see a clothes shop with a bank balance which is (abnormally) healthy, another way to my heart is with food. So it only seemed fair to indulge in my guilty (and costly) pleasures for a day.

There are a selection of bars and restaurants in the UK to visit, but why waste petrol and time when The Trafford Centre has the best of both worlds? – shopping and eating.

Plus, buying a bike for £25 off of Gumtree means I can magically reverse the mammoth calorie intake I was about to undertake. Nah, just playing. We’re all aloud a treat every once in a while (my definition of ‘once in a while’ seems to be every week).

TGI Fridays

TGI Fridays confirms that I’m food-obsessed on the premise that their food is so delectable. I’m willing to custom my attire to slacker pants to fit more tasty chicken in. There, I said it. I don’t care.

Prioritising food, we parked and headed for the food court – barely discoursing on which restaurant to go to. Shamelessly, we had planned in advance and have bee hallucinating about the chicken here for weeks.

Admittedly, we’ve indulged in their Jack Daniel’s sesame chicken a lot more times than we should have, although I’m guilty of not ordering it myself but slavering over someone else’s portion and expecting a few pieces in exchange for a spoonful of plain pasta.

TGI Fridays is a saving grace to those who love American dishes and flavoured chicken you can’t replicate at home (even if you researched and bought the same ingredients).

The American theme is infinite upon all the levels and around every corner. Every aspect of the walls and spaces capture a moment: a motorbike in the centre of the room (because… why not?), celebrity clothing framed all around making it very Planet Hollywood-esque and illuminous signs such as ‘wash rooms’ to make even a mundane notion glamorous.

TGI Fridays: A Taste Of America

This is essentially a museum, club and restaurant combined. Just going to the restrooms takes you on a journey through American history with replicas of famous props and statues.

It really does make mid-week feel like a Friday, courtesy of cocktails triggering an aether of people ready to party and dim lighting.

It’s been my life’s ambition to have a Hollywood makeup mirror, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was hit by a flood of bright yellow lights upstairs.

Mounted all on the back walls, the mirrors provide luxury and convenience for all guests, but apart from that, it takes people into another world, where they can feel like a celebrity for a few minutes on their way to the rest room.

Looking at the below image, you wouldn’t believe that it was 1pm on a Tuesday.

TGI Fridays: A Taste Of America

Food At TGI Fridays

My heart will always lie with the Jack Daniel’s sesame chicken, although they do have palatable phrases such as “crispy breaded, marinated in smoked oil with garlic and topped with toasted sesame seeds” which makes you have to swallow.

TGI Fridays: A Taste Of America

“I won’t eat all of that” I said. But when it comes to great food, I am willing to gain four pounds in one sitting for the sake of getting my money’s worth and making the experience last longer.

And before I knew it, the plate was empty and I was mentally penalising myself with a home workout later.

Essentially, you’re ordering a mound of chicken pieces, but each mouthful has a new taste; sometimes you get more of the soy sauce, other times the not-too-sapid Teriyaki sauce and on a good mouthful, your tongue is working hard to absorb every trace of the Jack Daniel’s Whiskey.

The succulent chicken and Jack Daniel’s dipping sauce are a 15-minute shortcut to happiness which I want to relive again and again.

A Harsh Reminder To Live Your Life

Beside us were a couple who spent the entire duration on their phones. Obliviously scrolling through their phones with no serious look on their face to imply it wasn’t a). work related or b). an urgent message, it was crassly to witness.

We have a ‘no phone at the table rule’ and it may seem like primeval behaviour, but we’re both cognisant of living in the moment and spending time together when we’re not working.

Undoubtedly, these were not the only couple in the room to be picking up their prized possession at least twice in just one sitting. (Try this game next time you’re out: observe how many people go on their phones during a meal).

Why is it that we can’t seem to take a break from this digital world to do something as simple as have a meal out with family or friends? Checking in on Facebook and snapping pictures are acceptable, but anything else phone-orientated is an unnecessary shame.

Uncertain if it was the dark lighting, or the American flamboyant decoration that filled me with Vegas-nostalgia, but it felt like I was abroad, and not just an hour away from home.

The memories from New York and Las Vegas TGI Friday’s came flooding back and rather than prepare ourselves for hours of clothes shopping, we wanted to teleport to the empire of casinos and lights.

It might sound profound, but isn’t a restaurant owner’s goal to sell you an experience and not just delicious flavours? And as the customer, we want that too.

Visiting a restaurant isn’t just about the food, but the social gathering and memories that you share over a plate of your favourite dishes and TGI Fridays is a chain which does exactly that, whilst catering for every person’s tastes (including those with a sesame chicken obsession).

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