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Friday, March 21

An Ultimate Recipe Showdown Taste Test

Jordan Baker (JB) has her excellent review up from our recent Ultimate Recipe Showdown taste test. Check it out.

Mine will be more of the same. Sorry Friday's, but what was consumed this past Wednesday evening on a rainy night in D.C. was definitely not the"apex of eating." If it was, I think I'll switch to a liquid-only diet for the rest of my life.

First, a fun little guessing game:

Perhaps an enlarged cancerous mole? The surface of one of Mars' moons? Scabies?

(Click on the photo for the answer)

As JB points out, we chose to limit ourselves to only one menu option each and the dessert to share. I suppose the original idea would have been to have a part #2 of the taste test if we were blown away by #1, so we could try all of the "ultimate" menu options. I'll put it on my calendar for 2011. Hope they're still on the menu by then.

JB chose the Chipotle Grilled Steak Sandwich--winner of the comfort food challenge.

And here it is:

The marketing copy indicates that this sandwich has a "healthy helping" of onion rings, which I suppose could be considered true since she was served just FIVE! When I see "healthy" and "onion rings" in the same sentence, I'm thinking a generous serving-- namely 10 or more (plus the crispy bits).

Since the plate looked so empty, I added some extra rings.

I chose the Ahi Tuna Ciabatta burgers.

I definitely didn't taste any soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in these babies. They tasted like... ahi tuna cooked too long (isn't tuna best served rare?) and placed on a bun with a tomato. Plus, there was no anaheim chili dipping sauce-- something I probably would have asked for if I had remembered at the time. Perhaps it would have helped mask the other blah flavors?

JB realized midway through the meal that her sweet plantains were most likely bananas. A cost-saving measure on the part of Friday's?

Read her review to see how she thought it tasted. There's a metaphor involving salt, armpit hair, and silly putty if you need some motivation.

Dessert was the dark chocolate cupcake duo. It's pretty hard to mess up a cupcake, but I think Friday's could have tried a bit harder with the presentation. Ours included no fresh strawberry (natch) and the raspberry sauce was drizzled in such a way that it made it really difficult to dip the cupcake. We had no separate plates, so we were left to breaking the cupcake up and dredging it through the little line of jam. The choco-mousse topping was just all right.

Overall, I've eaten much, much better meals and desserts--even at Friday's! Items were cold, pieces were missing, flavor was lacking-- it was just completely underwhelming.

I want to put it out there that the people who created these dishes probably did have some good recipes to begin with. I'm sure with the proper ingredients and technique this review could have turned out much differently. Having your special recipe churned through the "family casual" style, mass-produced kitchens of Friday's probably has some ill effects. There's also the very likely possibility that this particular Friday's in downtown D.C. just sucks. Politicians only appear to be choosy when it comes to picking their escort for the night. Food is the afterthought.

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At 3/21/2008 8:27 PM , Blogger JordanBaker said...

Thanks for the extra onion rings--I definitely could have used them, since they were the only edible thing on the plate.

At 3/22/2008 7:58 AM , Anonymous Conrad5 said...

Sorry to laugh at someone else’s misfortune, but this post was hilarious. You and JB sure took one for the team this time. You guys should live blog your next field trip--if you can keep the beverages off your laptops. Oh, and damn straight on the crispy bits!

At 3/22/2008 2:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting. We just had the steak sandwich and the chicken at a TGIF in Columbia, and they were impeccable. The steak sandwich was assembled correctly, and had just a finger-width at most of cheese melted onto each strip of steak individually. The plantains were plantains; the meat was marinated and the flavors just melded together wonderfully. The steak flavor was predominant in each bite. The thing you photographed doesn't look anything like the sandwich we just had.

The chicken was amazing. Each layer of flavor was distinct, and they meshed in different combinations. The meat was tender and juicy, the skin and spice rub produced a nice even crust without being burnt, and the herb spread was very good. The Ahi pepper sauce really pulled it all together for spice, but having a bite with the sweet potatoes instead yielded a wholly different, mellow flavor mix. I've had worse food for $35 a plate, easily.

I think your guess about kitchen skills is right on the mark. Properly fixed, these two dishes are amazing. I have to say, though, that our ciabatta flank steak looked nothing like what you got, so... Taster beware! :-)

At 3/22/2008 11:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The steak sandwich looks gross!

At 3/23/2008 3:18 PM , Anonymous Alec Smart said...

Anon buddy above sounds like a shill for Fridays. Maybe a proud up and coming assistant manager in training ?

Substituting a banana for plantain is hilarious. Probably doesn't matter to the minions who think TGIF is "some good" food, but for a food snob and accomplished palate like me, how dare they.

Could have told you how this would end Jake, but thanks for doing some true research.

btw, what's Jordan Baker look like ? Hotty ?

At 3/24/2008 11:30 AM , Blogger jacob said...

jordan: sorry they aren't the real thing.

conrad: glad you enjoyed it. live blogging sounds interesting, but I think people thought we were weird enough just by photographing the food and menus at a friday's.

anon: you should do the commercials instead of Guy. Glad you enjoyed it.

jessica: yeah, it wasn't the prettiest thing.

alec: JB likes to keep her anonymity. She's probably in the CIA, so I shouldn't say much.

At 3/24/2008 2:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fridays is ghetto

At 10/07/2008 2:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

after dean endorsed obama i will never watch her show again. never thought she was very smart or a good cook, now i know.


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