Saturday, May 3, 2008

T.G.I. Friday's at Anděl

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
-Mahatma Gandhi
I had a craving.

Like many cravings, it led to questionable decision-making and a bad ending.

My desire arose unexpectedly from the depths of my flame-broiled American soul. I needed a burger and a shake. I needed them bad.

I decided on the T.G.I Friday's at Anděl.

Some food-loving people I know have expressed dismay that I would patronize this establishment.

I had my reasons. They are these:
  • The prices at the Anděl location aren't too crazy and, in fact, are almost half of what you'd pay at the T.G.I. Friday's on Na Příkopě in the center of Prague.
  • They have the best chocolate milkshake I've had in Prague. I love it.
  • The burger tastes very similar to Burger King's Whopper, which I like (though I have a personal ban on eating McDonald's burgers).
  • The Anděl location was on the way to where I was going to meet friends.
I arrived at the restaurant around 3 pm.I hadn't had much to eat all day, and I was starving. A waiter came and took my order of a Friday's Burger and a shake.

"Are fries extra?" I asked.

"Yes, mister."

So, I didn't order any side item. But on a previous visit, I had ordered onion rings. They are big and greasy and they are 65 CZK as an appetizer. Too heavy for me.After I ordered my late lunch, the waiting game began.

More than 10 minutes went by. I was sitting near the bar and I could see that no one was working on my shake.Eventually, the waiter came and said he was sorry for the delay and my shake would be coming soon. Suddenly, a bartender appeared and started on my order.

I don't know about you, but personally, I don't find hunger to be a mood enhancer. I was getting edgy.

The chocolate shake came, and it was as good as I remembered. And it better be -- it costs 80 CZK, and it was not in a very big glass -- a .3 liter glass, I'd guess. But love is not a rational thing.Then, more waiting. Another 15 minutes.

Finally, the burger arrived. And it was not what I ordered.

The waitress, who was helping the waiter, held a Jack Daniel's Burger, which has Jack Daniel's glaze, topped with Colby cheese, and fried onion rings.

"I ordered the Friday's Burger with bacon and cheese," I said.

"I'll fix this and be back in just a few minutes." I'm not sure if she heard the sound of my heart breaking as she spun around and disappeared.

If I'd had more than two seconds to react, I would have taken the wrong burger, I was so hungry. But it was gone.

The waiter who took my order came by, I filled him in on the problem. He looked appropriately stricken and retreated.

Within five minutes, the burger came back.Now, this is actually a photo of a Friday's Burger I had on a previous visit and quite enjoyed. It does taste a lot like a Whopper, with a distinct, smoky flavor. But the beef patty is slightly thicker and the bacon kicks the ass of Burger King bacon.

I took a bite of the more recent lunchtime burger and, with this one, I had an immediate unfavorable reaction.

It was not hot.

Clearly, it had been a while since the flame-broiled patty had been near a flame. It was approximately room temperature.

My considered opinion was that it was the Jack Daniel's Burger I had seen earlier with the previous toppings scraped off and new ones added.

The lettuce underneath the meat was water-logged, soggy, and almost colorless. I had visions of kitchen staff washing the patty off in the sink (though perhaps I was in the depths of hunger-fueled paranoia).

Let me preface what happened next by saying this: I once worked as a waiter. It alters your perspective. I always try to be polite and respectful to servers. I am a good tipper.

Waiting tables is a hard job, and it's shocking how some people, when they walk into a restaurant, can allow their thin patina of civility to fall away and behave like haughty, entitled, patronizing jerks.

That's said, I was feeling homicidal. The waiter stopped by.

"Is everything OK, mister?"

"No. The hamburger is cold."

"I'm so sorry! Let me take this, and I'll have the kitchen make you another one."

"No. Please don't," I said. "I can't sit here all day. I am very, very hungry, I need to eat, and I want to be somewhere in ten minutes. I'll take it as it is. I'm not happy about it, but I can't wait anymore. That's it."

"I'm sorry, mister," the waiter said and he was gone. I paid up and left.

The mission to fulfill my simple craving, which began with such optimism and hope, ended in annoyance and frustration.

I was super disappointed.

I really don't like to be harsh. It's not my style. But there are exceptions and those usually come when I have an empty stomach.

So, I'm gonna vent my feelings on this one.

With all due respect to the great Mahatma, my waiter must have attained a new and higher plane of personal enlightenment and discovery on this day.

In the service of others, he was a total loser.

T.G.I. Friday's
Nádražní 110
Prague 5 - Anděl
Tel. (+420) 257 286 261

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Anonymous said...

Do you know of a good website that has Czech recipes in English?

Anonymous said...

I was in TGI Andel two month ago, short after discussion in your chart of Top Prague Burgers. It was rather a disappointement too. The service wasn't so hopeless as in this case, but we've been waiting more than 5 minutes after we've sit for somebody to come and offer a drink. And I remeber exactly that cold and water-logged lettuce in the burger I had. I did enjoy the meat, but remember as well that I wanted to have it more warm. Homemade french fries were excellent, one of the best I ever had in Prague...

Michaela said...

Aw, I´m sorry. that´s just all a little too heartbreaking. You need a good restaurant experience very, very soon to make up for all this :)

Brewsta said...

Interesting that you had some similar issues, Skip.

One lesson that was reinforced for me not long ago (at Chez Marcel) is that one can have quite different experiences, positive and negative, in the same restaurant on different nights. (This also helps me rationalize how some people hate a restaurant I might have enjoyed, or vice versa).

But consistency of experience is supposed to be one of the things these chains are good at.

And thank, Michaela ;-) I had a run of negative posts recently. But I had a good meal on Friday -- I hope I'll get that post out in a few days.

Patrick said...

Wow, sounds more like a review for a typical Czech hospoda... I had a craving for a sundae a few weeks ago and popped by the same TGI Friday's. While the sundae was fan-frickin-tastic, the service sucked dead donkey balls - polite but slooooooow....

CPM said...

They have a lot of very friendly waitresses there at the moment. I usually have lunch there about once a fortnight as it is just around the corner from my office.