ONLY for the burgers.
photo: Brian Jones
Where: Hviezdoslavovo nám. 3
Open: Mon-Sun 11:00-24:00
English menu: Yes
Rating: 5 out of 10
THE REPUTATION that precedes TGI Friday, and most of my Slovak friends believe this, is that it is an expensive fast food restaurant. My American acquaintances told me not to call it fast food because TGIF is supposedly better quality, not self-service and has a decent atmosphere. So I agreed to leave my prejudices against American eating culture behind and allow Friday's to impress me.
The interior design is the same as every Friday's in the world, with faux Tiffany lamps and bric-a-brac on the walls. The service is American-style. One can tell that the waiters have been trained to be smiley and friendly, but you can go too far. When we left, our overzealous waitress told us to "enjoy this beautiful sunny day", even though it had been grey and rainy since the morning.
Situated in the newly renovated Hotel Carlton, the restaurant has one of the best and most spacious locations in town, which makes it possible to find a place to sit at any time of the day. This abundance of empty seats might also have something to do with the prices Friday's charges.
We chose two simple classics - a club sandwich and a Friday's burger. The burger was just OK and the French fries were crispy, but the club was definitely not what it was supposed to be. It is not asking too much to expect the bread used in a sandwich to be fresh. The club sandwich we were served was made of white bread, which was not toasted and was stale. Even though the layers of ham and vegetables were generous, it did not help because without tasty bread, it was worthless.
We were hoping that the dessert would reverse the disappointment we experienced with the food, but that was wishful thinking. The 'New York-style' cheesecake was not made with cream cheese but with tvaroh (the Slovak version of cottage cheese), and instead of using graham crackers for the crust, as specified on the menu, the chef used regular pastry. But the price is what really takes the cake, because hardly anywhere else in Bratislava would you expect to pay Sk150 for a slice.
The burger and the sandwich cost Sk145($3.5) and Sk125 ($2.95) respectively. These are not the regular prices, which are much higher, but special offers currently available at Friday's as part of their lunch menu. The lower prices are reflected in the smaller sizes of the portions. This is a practice unknown in other Slovak restaurants, and was rather a surprise to me.
All in all, you cannot say I did not give them a chance. I went in with an open mind and was prepared to "buy" the whole package - the ridiculous hats of the waitstaff and a sandwich for lunch (which is not considered a real meal in Slovakia)- but it was just average, and that was not enough to convince me.