Monday, March 3, 2014

Yee-Haw for Tex-Mex at TGIFriday's

When I accompanied a friend of mine visiting her sister in Houston, Texas, I fell head over heels in love with the food (I miss you, Cracker Barrel)! Aside from discovering the ice cream brand Blue Bell and reveling over the chalk-that-melts-in-your-mouth-what-the-hell-is-this astronaut's ice cream, I was hooked on everything Tex-Mex, which was mostly composed of seared steak, deep-fried onions and okra, lots of corn, sharp cheeses, and heaps and heaps of spicy layers of flavor like chipotle and jalapeño. And Lawdy, one plate of their food could feed four starving Asians!

That being said, you could imagine my excitement when I was invited to TGIFriday's to try out their newest Tex-Mex dishes. The TGIFriday's branch at Greenbelt had recently gotten an overhaul in the looks department as well, so I was excited to check out the new, sleek, modern interiors.

Read more on The Bistro Group's other restaurants:
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Modern Shanghai's Guide to the Xiao Long Bao
Celebrating Chinese New Year at Modern Shanghai
Spanish Iberico Pork Tonkatsu at Tonkatsu by Terazawa

I almost didn't recognize The Bistro Group's restaurant the first time I passed by the brand new TGIFriday's at Greenbelt 3. They even redesigned the logo to keep up with the times and did away with the dark interior and bright red booths, opting for cooler colors and lots of glass to let in more light. The place looks twice as big as it did before.

We started our Tex-Mex fiesta with a big plate of Friday's Chili Ball Park Nachos (P395 - small; P650 - to share) - deep fried tortilla chips covered with a rich cheese sauce, chili and pico de gallo and served with fresh salsa on the side. We were four at the table and felt like we barely made a dent in the thing - it was so big! My only gripe with the dish is I wish they would add a bit more of the chili and cheese toppings since it only covers the first layer of nachos, leaving the ones underneath bland and boring.

For drinks, the chocoholic in me spotted the Double Chocolate Milkshake (P245) - a creamy, delightful concoction that made me giddy with delight. Jericho opted for the classier and not-too-sweet Strawberry Cheesecake Milkshake (P245), a blend of strawberry ice cream, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream. Ugh, delish!

My favorite dish that afternoon was the simple yet flavorful Smoked Salmon Quesadilla (P345). The crisp tortilla hid generous flakes of smoked salmon, tart apples, and Monterey Jack cheese topped with pico de gallo and served with a mango-lemon slaw. This was a refreshing change from all the corn tortilla-heavy dishes I had that afternoon, and was surprisingly light on the tummy, too.

Meanwhile, Jericho couldn't stop munching on Friday's Tostada Nachos (P495) - crispy tortillas loaded with seasoned ground beef and melted cheese served with salsa and sour cream and topped with a jalapeño slice. Easy-peasy cheesy chips is what I call it. All you need is a dollop of salsa and sour cream before popping it in your mouth and wait for the cheesy, meaty, spicy, tangy flavorbomb to go off in your mouth.

The milkshake proved to be too sweet, even for me, and I got a glass of TGIFriday's Holiday Isle Smoothie (P175) to help. This was as thick as the milkshake, with ice cream as a base, but made with different citrus-y fruits, making it quite refreshing.

Another Tex-Mex dish I really took to was the BBQ Pork Tacos (P475). The soft taco was filled with shaved pork tenderloin in Friday's signature BBQ sauce, melty Pepper Jack cheese, frizzled onions, south western sour cream, pico de gallo, and chopped cilantro served with a side of French fries. I was pretty full up with just one taco, so I suggest you share this and split another dish for variety.

Last on the Tex-Mex luncheon was the Ranchero Chicken Ensalada (P495) - tender slow-cooked chicken breast mixed with spicy ranchero tomato sauce and melted Monterey Jack cheese before being rolled in a hot corn tortilla, this is topped with cheddar, pico de gallo, cilantro, and sour cream. This is served with a yummy chorizo rice with a slight hum of heat.

Of course, being at TGIFriday's won't be complete without dessert, so I had a small mouthful of Red Velvet Cake, just because I was super stuffed with nachos, and tacos, and cheese. This was dense and moist with a thick layer of cream on top and a sticky cream cheese pond underneath. This was good, but not really something I'd keep coming back for.

I was a lot happier with their Oreo Madness (P250 - 1 piece, P345 - 2 pieces) made out of giant Oreo cookies sandwiched around vanilla ice cream and topped with lazy drizzles of chocolate and caramel sauce. Look at how thick one "cookie" is!

TGIFriday's has always been our go-to restaurant for affordable American comfort food, and although I will probably never stop ordering the Cajun Chicken Tenders and Jack Daniel's Salmon, I will probably add the Salmon Quesadillas to my list of must-orders when I visit, especially now that it's Lent!

When mucking around Greenbelt 3, check out the newly renovated TGIFriday's and try their new Tex-Mex dishes! The flavors are bold and ballsy, and the portions are pretty generous making them great for sharing - a great jumping off point for those who want to dip their big toe in the water when trying Tex-Mex cuisine!

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+63 917 628 9833
Level 3, Greenbelt 3,
Ayala Center, Makati
Open Daily: 11am - 9pm