Given Chennai’s record of being the only place in the world where Hard Rock Cafe does not serve alcohol, it’s understandable that not everyone is as kicked as they should be about TGI Fridays arriving in the city. And given the American chain’s location, on the second floor of the deserted Ramee Mall, we’re a little sceptical over general manager Manikandan R’s assurance that they hope to have a liquor license in around two months. But all these doubts aside, we must say that our dinner (during trial run) is going rather well. For one, the place is packed, with excited diners drowning out the rock music booming from Bose speakers. And secondly, the staff ensure there’s never a dull moment by breaking into chorus without warning or simply making conversation about the food, if nothing else. There’s a contagious energy about this place.
With our orders left to Salu Anthony Gabriel, our waiter for the evening, we tour the place and find it divided into two. The bar counter and permit area is an elevated portion that only those who are 21 or above will have access to, while the restaurant section around it is open to all ages. Alcohol (whenever it arrives) will be served only in the permit area, while the food and mocktail menus will be available across. And going by the Gold Medalist (a thick concoction of banana and strawberry with grenadine and their house pina colada mix) and November Seabreeze (a drink as refreshing as its name), we can’t wait to try their cocktails. But now it’s platter time. Our heads nod both in appreciation of the thumping music and our golden fillets of fried mozzarella. Then there’s the no-fuss, full flavour chicken wings that are a relief after the sauce-loaded versions the city is growing fond of.
Stack ’em up
As we dissect our ultimate Jack Daniel’s burger (a stack of two patties, crispy bacon, American cheese and large onion rings), Manikandan sheds light on their loyalty programme, Stars & Stripes. He says something to the effect of, “You earn stripes every time you spend. Each dish gives you a specific number of stripes, and you can cash them in against the menu later.” Sorry. We were slightly distracted by the gentleman at a neighbouring table, who was made to stand up on the couch and announce that he’s celebrating his birthday. A dynamic birthday song (and plenty of hoots and cheers) later, we polish off our sizzling whiskey cake and say ‘bye’, after a Friday evening well spent.
Meal for two at approx Rs 1,000 plus tax. Details: 43015978, 43016978