SO WE THOUGHT WE’D HAVE A SLAP-UP PRE-MOTHER’S DAY FEAST AT TGIF or TGIFridays as the restaurant is formally called. It wasn’t Mother’s Day yet but it was around the corner and I had been having fond memories of hefty steaks since the last time I ate there. Coming out from the theatre upstairs watching Beauty and the Beast had worked up a good appetite, (not that Be Our Guest had anything to do with it) but we thought ─ TGIF would be just the thing to round off the evening.Stepping in, we noticed that the restaurant hadn’t changed much despite the years even with the proliferation of so many branches. This one that we went to at IOI Mall, Puchong had its character intact typified by the same chunky dark wood, glowy lights and warm Southern exuberance reminiscent of all the other outlets in Malaysia. TGIFridays originates from America in case you want to know. Apparently there are 1000 similar outlets in 58 countries worldwide. I’ve enjoyed many a meal here myself and the one thing that I liked most about TGIF is their outgoing, responsive staff. A meal always tastes better when you are served by involved staff who seem to care about making your dinner a good one.
A meal always tastes better when you are served by involved staff who seem to care about making your dinner a good one.
So what do think of the movie?” I asked my eating companion while poring over the menu. We were still reverberating from the glorious Dolby System sensurround. But our concentrations had to be divided.
There was a Special going on at TGIF called Share-A-Meal-For Two where for two main courses ordered, you get a free appetiser/starter. Choice of appetisers ranged from Calamari Fries, Sesame Tennessee Chicken Fritters, Fish Karaage or Gumbo Soup. Everybody agreed on the Calamari Fries.
“I didn’t like Emma Watson’s acting,” he replied while going through the Main Course selection, “She didn’t bring out her character and in the dinner scene where she just sat there with a disinterested smile while Lumiere and the entire kitchen sang and danced their hearts out, I thought ─ meh, she’s got a long way to go.”
“Ya, she kind of just sat there,” I agreed, trying to choose between the Pacific Cod or the Sizzling Cod. “She should have showed a bit more enthusiasm or referred to the cartoon Belle for ideas.”
Behind the Scenes: Beauty and the Beast
I decided on the Pacific Cod and motioned the waitress.
“Have you decided?” I asked my other eating companion.
“Yeah,” she said. “I’ll have the Double Stack Quisadillas and a Grasshopper Pie Shake.”
Wow! Big meal that. I looked at the menu. The Quisadillas were stuffed tortillas with creamy dips of well…cream as well as guacamole and salsa. Woohoo.
The waitress came back with news of my order. “Sorry, we don’t have the Pacific Cod,” informed the waitress after checking with the kitchen.
Aw, and I so wanted the fish. My eating companion had already chosen the Garlic Basil Chicken with Butter Sauce and I didn’t want the same thing. The rest of the choices on our Share-A-Meal-For Two set featured chicken wings, mussels, tacos or pasta. Oooh, my favourite pasta! I would have chosen it had it not included a tomato base. Hmmm. “Ok la, I’ll go for the Sizzling Combo,” I reluctantly decided. It was grilled chicken breast and rib eye steak. I also chose the least exciting dinks ─ mineral water and 7Up.
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“Beauty and the Beast is the story of a girl who fell in love with a water buffalo,” piped my other eating companion.
Yes, that would be an apt description. It’s about an inter-species relationship that had an interesting ending, I sniggered.
There was a gay scene too, she winked. “But they cut most of it out.”
But gay allusions notwithstanding, I was blown away by the opening song, Bounjour Belle. “Woh!” I enthused, “the interweaving of all those voices and the complicated harmony and the choreography!”
Watch the Opening Sequence
“Trust you to be so analytical about everything,” said my other eating companion.
“I thought Emma Watson’s voice was a bit thin,” interjected the first eating companion, “Her singing was non-existant.”
“Well, she’s not a professional singer,” defended the other eating companion.
“The casting was out la,” said my first eating companion, “those two ─ Emma Watson and Dan Stevens who played the Beast ─ didn’t have chemistry at all!
“There wasn’t much make-up on the Beast either if you’re thinking,” he added. “Most of it was CGI. There was too much CGI. If I were to give any stars for the movie, I’d say for the Production Design and the Music.”
I made a mental note to order the Quisadilla the next time around. TGIF’s version is pretty kickass.
RIGHT THEN, THE FOOD ARRIVED. Ah! We stopped talking about Beauty and the Beast and tucked in heartily. My two mini steaks were tender and succulent with just enough peppercorns to make a subtle statement. Yup, TGIF’s cooking has still got it. And true to its signature style ─ the portions were big. And extremely filling. I was stuffed and couldn’t finish. I passed some of my steaks around.
But stuffed as I was, I left room to taste the Quisadilla. Wow. It was rich, especially with its cream dips and all. I made a mental note to order the Quisadilla the next time around. TGIF’s version is pretty kickass.
“How is the Basil Chicken?” I asked my eating companion who was already ¾ of the way through his food.
“Not bad,” he replied with his mouth full. “Hey, this is a better meal than the one we had during Christmas. What’s for dessert?”
He pored over the menu and as expected of a chocolate die-hard, he zoomed in on the Brownies. TGIF doesn’t have a lot of choices for dessert but the three they offered were like Da Bomb, if you know what I mean.
“I was most disappointed with Kevin Kline,” I said, reopening the subject of Beauty and the Beast while waiting for dessert to arrive. Kevin Kline played Maurice, Belle’s father. I felt he didn’t come across as a loving father at all. There was hardly any emoting from the man.
“But Gaston made an impact,” offered my eating companion. “He was the one who stood out.” Gaston was played by Luke Evans. LeFou, the silly sidekick played by Josh Gad, also stood out as his character was given a different slant. He was no longer the grovelling buffoon like in the animated version but the wise fool who provided some pretty astute insights throughout the movie.
And just then, the Brownie arrived. Not a fan of chocolate, I declined to try but the Brownie Obsession, drizzled with a generous amount of hot chocolate fudge sauce and topped with cold vanilla ice-cream looked so incredibly tempting, so sinfully salacious, I gave in and took a spoonful. Again ─ it was a wowee zowee wow! Rich and creamy, like molten gold that melted in your mouth, I acquiesced to the taste of chocolate, just this once. Mmmmm.
All too soon, dessert was walloped. Our meal was over, our appetites were more than satiated, and our minds were busy making delicious memories to file away for posterity about a 5-star, value-for-money-meal (the bill came to a surprising RM160 only) in a favourite restaurant with great company, and songs in our head to karaoke over about a Tale As Old As Time ─ Beauty and the Beast. (Burp).
Let’s fill YOUR head with one of those songs: