When you think about T.G.I. Friday's, you probably think about greasy, fatty bar food. Well, the folks over at the chain have made an attempt to go guilt-free. Read on to see how well they did...
Overall Notes and Observations:
* All of the items marked "Low Fat" supposedly contain around 500 calories and 10g of fat each, but there is a disclaimer on the menu saying that because things are made to order, nutritionals do vary. That's typical of any restaurant meal, but we just wanted to point this out.
* The Friday's menu offers "Low Carb" selections, as well, but the only nutritional info available on those is the net carbs (plus our waiter warned us some were likely fat-filled due to lots of butter), so we stuck with the Low Fat ones, mostly.
* The Shrimp Key West ISN'T on their Low Fat menu (the rest of the items we reviewed are), but it seemed VERY low-cal/low-fat to us, so we ordered it and reviewed it anyway. (We're rebels, we know.)
POINTS COUNTER ALERT! Friday's hasn't provided specific nutritional info for the items on their Low Fat menu. For those of you wondering about the Points values of these dishes -- at 500 calories and 10g fat each, each dish would have 10 - 11 Points, with the high-fiber salads and veggie-packed plates likely clocking in at 10 Points and the Pot Stickers probably coming in at 11 Points. We suspect some of these items (especially the super-light Swirl Cake) have less than the 500 cals and 10g fat Friday's estimates, but serious Points sticklers should go with 10 - 11 Points per item to be safe.
OK, let the chewing and telling begin...
Zen Chicken Pot Stickers
What are they? Fire-grilled dumplings stuffed with minced chicken and vegetables, sprinkled with pico de gallo and served with a sweet & tangy Szechwan dipping sauce.
What we think of them: Unfortunately, we're NOT impressed. We would have bet everything we had on us (including our emergency snacks) that these dumplings came frozen and were nuked just seconds before they arrived at our table. They were rubbery and didn't taste all that fresh. And six chewy, not-so-fresh-tasting potstickers for 500 calories is no bargain.
Overall score: 4. We'd never order these again. They're half as good as any of the frozen dumplings you find at Trader Joe's and most supermarkets.
Santa Fe Chicken Salad
What is it? Crisp romaine lettuce tossed in a spicy Chipotle Ranch dressing and topped with grilled chicken, tomatoes, black bean & corn salsa, and grilled onions.
What we think of it: The chicken on this salad ROCKED. It was tender, moist and awesome, but the rest of the salad was just ok. The grilled onions and grape tomatoes were a nice touch, but the southwestern items (corn and beans) were scarce. And the salad was SWIMMING in dressing. Dressing that tasted a little bit like Band-Aids (or generic adhesive strips for you trademark attorneys out there). All in all, not a bad choice -- but nothing we're doing backflips over.
Overall score: 6.5. If you do get this, order the dressing on the side -- and think about trying a different low-fat dressing altogether.
Lo-Phat Chicken Salad
What is it? Chilled sautéed chicken, fresh cabbage, red pepper and green onions tossed with low-fat Cilantro Lime dressing.
What we think of it: We are officially in love with this salad. The chopped cabbage, carrots and peppers work VERY well together, and the dressing is FANTASTIC -- nice and sweet with a spicy kick. The only thing that could have made this salad better is if they subbed the chicken from the Santa Fe Salad. The chicken in this salad is served cold and it was slightly dry. Still, we dig this salad (despite its embarrassingly un-hip and silly name).
Overall score: 9.5. We LOVE LOVE this salad. (One member of our staff has even been seen doodling "Mrs. Lo-Phat Chicken Salad" on her notepad.)
Island Grilled Mahi Mahi
What is it? A mild whitefish grilled and topped with a light coconut sauce, sprinkled with pineapple pico de gallo, and served with stir-fried brown rice and broccoli.
What we think of it: We'll cut to the chase. This fish itself was GREAT -- a generous size, very fresh-tasting and not fishy at all -- impressive! The coconut sauce was good, too. The dish is served with rice (and lots of it!), so that's likely where a huge chunk of the calories come from -- not necessary. The veggies were a little dry -- but that's better than being buttery!
Overall score: 8.5. We'd get this again. But we'd opt for double veggies instead of rice and save a couple hundred calories.
What is it? Marinated chicken breast topped with fiery Kung Pao sauce, mandarin oranges and pineapple pico de gallo, and served with stir-fried brown rice and cilantro-lime-seasoned broccoli.
What we think of it: If you like large portions you'll LOOOOVE this dish. Ours came with two huge chicken breast pieces. A word of warning though -- the sauce is suuuuuper-spicy so if you are not a fan of spicy foods, avoid this dish at all costs (or see if they can make it without the sauce). The pineapple pico de gallo and mandarin oranges add to the fun of this entree. Weeeeeee!
Overall score: 8.5. We'd get it again. But we'd have lots of water on hand to put out the fire in our faces!
Shrimp Key West
What is it? Skewers of seasoned, char-grilled shrimp topped with a sparkling citrus splash and served with a side of vegetables.
What we think of it: We took a chance with this one, people. It was listed as a "Low Carb" entree and not a "Low Fat" one, but after examining the menu description closely we decided that it didn't appear to be overly fatty and seemed VERY low-cal, so we ordered it. We wish we hadn't. The shrimp were tiny (there were 12 of 'em on 2 skewers, so that should give you an idea of their size), but they were also SPONGEY and horrible. In fact, after tasting them we wished they were smaller (and that there were fewer of them). And the sauce on the veggies tasted sour. Ew.
Overall score: 3. Don't go there.
Chocolate Angel Swirl Cake
What is it? Angel food cake swirled with chocolate mousse, served with fresh pineapple and strawberries, and drizzled with fudge sauce.
What we think of it: This cake is light, fun and yummy! In fact, we have a VERY hard time believing it has anywhere close to 500 calories. We'd put it at about 300 if we had to guess. It's a nice little ending to a meal and a perfect dessert to share with a few pals.
Overall score: 8. Good stuff…especially the fudgy layer of mousse. Yum!
CHEW ON THIS: April 20th is National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day. In celebration, have some pineapple chunks in their own juice with a squirt of fat-free whipped cream. Skip the cake -- who needs it?! Now enjoy your snack upside-down (just kidding…you might choke. HG promotes safe snacking!).
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