When gaining a vacant parking space in the centre of our capital city during the current Monsoon season, traversing the rising flood level without a lifebelt and on reaching the destination discover the premises are closed, without notice, what do you do?
‘Let’s try elsewhere’. Certainly madam. It is considered a good move, when drowning, to park as close to the chosen venue as possible. I believe the Deity appeared in the title of the restaurant until the era of idiocy, now it’s not God but Goodness we have to thank. Never mind, they have a commodious carpark; we are safely parked, sheltered and seated in about two minutes.
A large notice on the wall adjoining the restaurant advertises a two course dinner is served after 16:00 hrs Sunday to Thursday. Sadly it is 14:00hrs and Wednesday. On entering we are made welcome and take the car-side option, which although provided for those few smokers that now exist it affords an opportunity to see the world pass wetly by.
The restaurant can seat 280, but not so many today.
Big tables, big chairs, very comfortable for me but madam the slim companion would like a little more upholstery. Our waitress, charming and with a gentle yet professional manner guides us through the delights of TGI. It is my first visit to such a venue. There are six of these enterprises in Cyprus and they are among the busiest in the franchise, which is not surprising. The service is seamless, all the staff move as though on wheels. They don’t have menus, they have libraries – the bar menu is six pages of drinks in a hard cover. Cocktails are paramount. Beer in tins, bottles and draught; craft gins.
Special lunches comprising every kind of chicken salad; meals for vegetarians. Halfway through the ‘Hand Crafted menu’ we encounter food – the first five pages are for drinks. But we have come to eat.
The appetisers have 15 offerings; four of them are share platters. Six fast food starters of the usual suspects, and a little section headed ‘small plates’, from which we chose the onion rings and baby calamari. The portions are very generous and the rings are served with a dipping sauce, the squid with a taco slaw, fresh lime dressing and sour cream. One is immediately impressed by the kitchen’s batter, it is tempura quality.
We didn’t come to try the very healthy testament to quinoa burgers and pomegranate chicken even if they do contain cranberries and broccoli slaw. The companion has spotted the Grill and Steak deals. There is a moment of temptation over a grilled duck with mashed potatoes, but I liked the batter and I would like it embracing some very large king prawns – this company is American so all prawns are shrimps. And I order Friday’s Shrimp with chips and chef’s vegetables. Madam the Italian is determined to have the Black Angus until she spots the veal. Can it be correct? Two rib-eyes, nearly 300g, fire-grilled, served with mashed potatoes flavoured with Cheddar cheese; ‘rare please,’ says the companion.
The starters are first rate; no need to request fresh cutlery, two wrapped sets are delivered with the first order. My prawns are excellent but the fries are a disappointment – if I liked chips I wouldn’t like these. The veal is a revelation, the mash pots memorable. Neither of us can complete the meal.
This type of franchise is oiled to perfection. I have always viewed them as a birthday party establishment, but they are much more. I noticed it attracted groups of young women that appeared very comfortable in their surroundings.
SPECIALTY American Diner Cuisine
WHERE Prespas 2-4, Central Nicosia
WHEN Noon to Midnight daily. Book for parties.