Blog of an aspiring foodie

Twisted lunch

Posted by beer_chris on 7-November-2006

As a rule I avoid TGI Fridays – I usually would rather just eat fast food or stop into some mom and pop storefront place. However, I broke my own rule for lunch today to try Betty's winning entree (Tuscan Portobello Melt) from last week's Top Chef. It was awful. The mushrooms may have been *canned* in Tuscany, but there wasn't a whole lot of freshness there. The cheese was good – maybe there was a shred of provolone in with the mozzarella – it was definitely better then the usual American slice – but the bread was really greasy. That, and it was clearly the same bread used for the kids meal grilled cheese – the whole sandwich was no larger then my clenched fist.

Admittedly, the onions and grilled peppers in the sandwich were tasty even if the bread and mushroom were not. I really liked grilled onions and peppers in my grilled cheese – and the way the veggies were cut up helped create the flavor profile. Small onions, medium pepper pieces and larger mushroom pieces really worked well – I was able to get just all of the flavors in my mouth at the same time – no biting square into an onion 'chunk' and overwhelming the flavor.

Had those flavors been fresh and tasty, that might have made up for the mistake that was the soup. The Fire-Roasted Red Pepper “Soup” (yes, those are air quotes) tasted like marinara dip warmed over from the same tureen they pull from for their cheese stick appetizers. Perhaps this is why they didn't give me a soup spoon to start with – the kitchen even assumed it was a dipping sauce! It was really sweet and with the odd tomato 'chunks' that form when sodium nitrate is added to canned tomato puree. There was absolutely no trace of fresh vegetable flavor – nothing especially tangy or spicy. I'm not sure where the pepper was in this other then the name.

So, the sandwich was OK but too small and too greasy, the soup was actually dip, and topping it off it cost me 10 bucks to get this Top Chef special and a glass of soda. And I was still hungry when I was done. The TGI Fridays executive chef asked for 'twisted' childhood faves. This was twisted alright – in a tricky, steal your money kind of way. If this was the winner I'm really wondering how terrible the loser dishes really were.

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