Before anyone comes at us saying we’re getting paid for this — we’re not. We did this out of our love for brunching and nothing more.
I’m a low-key brunch snob. Okay, fine, there’s nothing low-key about it. I’m a full-blown brunch snob. If my eggs are overdone and chalky, I’m giving the waiter a side-eye. If my hollandaise sauce is clearly from a packet, I’m not even going to touch the extra side I asked for. And if my mimosas taste like someone put a packet of Hi-C into a bottle of Andre, sure, I’ll catch a good buzz on them, but I won’t enjoy it. So when we reported on Fridays adding brunch to their menu, I said to myself, “Yeah, but how good will it actually be?” But when we received this tweet, I knew they meant business.
— TGI Fridays (@TGIFridays) March 9, 2016
Naturally, I immediately DM’d them and simply said, “Let’s brunch.” The next thing I knew, they were in contact with Big T-Shirt Matt and we were in a privately driven Yukon Denali en route to Corpus Christi for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at their recently renovated location.
As it turns out, they weren’t just adding brunch to their menu. They were overhauling everything from the decor to the bar menu to the entire vibe. It went from the place in Office Space where Jennifer Aniston worked to feeling like a full-fledged restaurant catering to everyone in their 20s and 30s as opposed to their 60s and 70s.
When Matt, Dave (a former Chili’s enthusiast) and I arrived at our hotel and all dressed in accidentally-identical outfits, we got back in the Denali to head to the location with no idea what to expect for the rest of the night. But upon our arrival, we were served a slew of appetizers from their new menu — chips and guacamole that tasted like it was made in a molcajete, cheese fries that I could’ve eaten Texas dry of had it been a part of their endless app menu, and even some type of spicy tuna roll that I would’ve expected to see at a restaurant named “Tao” and not “Fridays.” I capped it all off by dipping their grilled cheese into the tomato soup side, which really got me primed to do some cocktail tasting.
We were immediately greeted by the team we were in contact with that had set the entire ordeal up. They placed us front row for the actual cutting of the ribbon, and kept a million cocktails flying our way despite the fact that I was trying not to drink after feeling the effects of a three-day hangover from the TFM Cruise.
— PostGradProblems (@PostGradProblem) March 16, 2016
Fortunately for me, they branded their brunch as the “hangover brunch” which is exactly what I needed. The drinks looked solid so I had some sort of tropical Long Island Iced Tea which got me on the train early before following that up with a watermelon cooler that made me feel refreshed as fuck. I then parlayed both of those with a Ciroc-based cocktail named “Diddy On The Beach” because if you’re not drinking Ciroc whenever you go to a Fridays then I don’t want you on my team. Oh, and they also hit us up with some Veuve for the special occasion, because in there, it’s always Friday.
“But you guys really want to see the brunch menu, right?” we were asked as the sun began to set on the patio. We obviously obliged and ordered their fully-loaded Bloody Mary, an order of Chicken & Waffles, and a “bucket of bacon” which was just that — a bucket overflowing with a bunch of maple-glazed bacon. What arrived blew my mind.
Yes, that’s a Bloody Mary with chicken wings, stuffed bacon wrapped jalapeños, celery, a slider, and a bag of damn french fries hanging off the side. Now, I’ve gone on record saying that I straight-up dislike Bloodies that are overflowing with stuff. But this? This changed things. I didn’t feel like they were just putting shitty pre-made apps all over this Bloody Mary. I felt like these were actually specially made for this specific drink as opposed to frozen from the day before and used on a cocktail in place of just throwing them out. And honestly, the stuffed bacon wrapped jalapeno was Hangover Cure City, because everyone knows spicy things cure hangovers (especially when wrapped in bacon).
When it became entree time, they unveiled the Chicken & Waffles. Everyone knows how I feel about Chicken & Waffles, so again, I was hesitant but embraced them with an open mind and heart. After all, I never grew up knowing that eating fried chicken before noon was socially acceptable (and honestly, I’m not sure it still is but neither is drinking yourself into enough of a stupor that you need a hangover brunch, is it?). I shared this entire plate with Matt and Dave, with Dave being the noted meat/fried chicken snob of the group. But when we cut into the perfectly brown, crispy chicken that was shockingly white on the inside, nothing was the same.
I wasn’t trying to piss down anyone’s boot and tell them it’s rain, but I went on record saying, “This is probably the best chicken I’ve had since coming to Texas” which could be considered a blasphemous statement to my fried chicken enthusiasts. But you know what? I don’t even take it back because it was that friggin’ good.
While we sat in the back booth finishing our brunch, we couldn’t help but order more food from their updated menu — we’re talkin’ ‘tato skins, potstickers, chicken wings, some type of breadstick that I dipped in queso. When I walked into that place, I was feeling thin. I was dehydrated from my cruise hangover and I hadn’t eaten since dinner on Sunday night because I had felt so nauseous. But when the waiter started clearing our table, I put my hand on my stomach and considered going shopping the next day to size-up all my clothes. I ate everything and more.
As we said our goodbyes and got in our cabs, it didn’t feel as though we were walking away from your traditional Fridays — because we weren’t. Their new menu and aesthetic knocked it out of the park, and they’re not even paying us to say that. And I, personally, can’t wait to be hungover eating their brunch again. .
We also recapped our Fridays adventure on the most recent episode of our podcast, which you can listen to here.