T.G.I.Friday’s New, Natural and Innovative Menu

by Grace Boyle on February 25, 2011

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I don’t really eat at chain restaurants. Anyone who knows me, knows this. Since I was raised vegetarian and only eat the occasional white meat of chicken, turkey and fish there aren’t as many wholesome, vegetarian options at fast food chains.

However, when I was contacted about T.G.I.Friday’s new menu with fresher ingredients, cooked-to-order dishes and their  new menu just in the Denver area, I was intrigued. I wanted to know more and see for myself.

I headed to the Northfield Stapleton location of Friday’s and met Korisa, who helps to run their public relations efforts. Like a good food  skeptic who was raised on organic food, I asked, WHY and HOW? Immediately, a Strawberry Mojito, stacked with fresh mint landed in front of me.

Now with a rum-filled-fruit mojito in front of you, let me tell you a little more…

The History:

Friday’s has been around for a while – 1965 to be exact. For 45 years, Friday’s has always evoked comfort and a relaxing environment. In an effort to innovate their food and through listening to customer feedback, their new menu launched. To test this new concept, there are now 20 new dishes on the menu ranging from appetizers, entrees and cocktails.

In short: they wanted to try something new. They renovated the look and feel of their test restaurants, upgraded the menu and started talking to their customers.

The Food:

Appetizers: Ahi Tuna with Avocado Crisps, Heavenly Hummus and Tillamook Cheddar Deviled Eggs.

Presentation-wise, I was impressed. The Ahi tuna was soft and tasted pretty fresh – served on warm tortilla chips they were covered in guacamole, jalapenos, lemon basil vinaigrette and wasabi ranch dressing. The humus was thick and smooth, with hints of Tahini and Garbanzo beans. I could tell the ingredients were fresher than before (not packaged). The deviled eggs are also served with hot, homemade spiced potato chips.

Entrees: Grilled Vegetable Dagwood Sandwhich and the Knife-and-Fork Chicken Caesar.

The Caesar had natural, grilled chicken breast atop romaine lettuce, parmesan, grape tomatoes and their tangy Caesar dressing. A little overdressed, but a solid Caesar.

The Dagwood sandwich is really something I can get behind. I would eat this for lunch, any day. It has crisp grilled pita stuffed high with spinach, broccoli slaw, mango chutney mayo, cucumber, tomato slices, and grilled, tandoori-marinated veggies, garnished with goat cheese crumbles. Not to mention, served with sweet potato fries (my favorite).

After our feast, I couldn’t even muster dessert. I was full and satisfied.

My favorite menu items were the hummus and Dagwood sandwich.

You can view the entire new menu, (only in Denver metro) here.

Try It Yourself:

There are six TGI Friday’s restaurants in the Denver Metro area hosting this new menu: South Aurora at Parker and Chambers, Longmont, The Shops at Northfield Stapleton, Thornton off 120th and 1-25, Town Center of Aurora and Park Meadwos at County Line Road and Yosemite.

So, try it out for yourself: http://www.itsalwaysfriday.com/. Tell me what you think. Tell Friday’s. They’re open to hearing any and all feedback and their conscious enough to launch it in one metro area, to test the effectiveness and popularity.

My consensus:

I dig the gumption of Friday’s. I like the direction they’re going. They’re not trying to pretend they’re a high-end, farm to table bistro. They will never be that and they don’t need to be.

They’re also educating their current regulars, with a fresher, more innovative menu. They now have multiple chefs in the kitchen, because their menu items are prepared (not out of a bag or frozen). They’re focusing on customer-feedback (I filled out a survey while eating there, organized by a market research team on-site) and they’re involving the community.

I’m not the ‘regular’ diner at Friday’s and it’s not somewhere I would eat, everyday, but I know that while traveling/on the road Friday’s is somewhere I would definitely stop.

I see Friday’s being great for groups and families, and they should definitely launch these new menu items and continue to publicly educate customers about what they’re doing.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post, but was invited to eat at Friday’s and sample their menu items. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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