A rhapsody in ribs

Hot and Spicy ribs and a gesticulating rib-eater at TGI Fridays Brighton
Hot and Spicy ribs and a gesticulating rib-eater at TGI Fridays Brighton

There are few foods that give the visceral carnivorous fix of a meaty rack of sticky, blackened, barbecued ribs.

A dear chum of mine has always said his greatest ever meal was munched in Paris (so far so unsurprising. but wait for it..) - a plate of ribs in TGI Fridays.

Toffee apple ribs

Toffee apple ribs

So when the popular American-style chain unveiled a new range of ribs, I knew I had to ask him to join me for a journey into fine vertebrate anatomical cuisine.

The nation’s taste for American smokehouse-style food shows no sign of abating, and it appears the UK’s pitt-masters can safely throw a few more chicory-infused briquettes on the barbie.

Brighton’s previous top exponent of all things meaty, smoked and grilled, was the Barbecue Shack previously based at the World’s End on London, but Brighton’s loss is Seaford’s gain.

TGI Fridays is a relatively new face on the Brighton block, setting up shop on The Boardwalk of the Marina, but obviously it’s a high street heavy-hitter with more than 900 restaurants in 60 countries.

Ultimate Golden Gate Ribs

Ultimate Golden Gate Ribs

On a parky night before Christmas I rocked up to the Marina with the rib aficiando/Tex Mex gourmand and another friend who likes his vittles to have once bleated, clucked, quacked, mooed or oinked.

The restaurant is the kind of lively Tex-Mex type of joint that makes you nostalgic for the ‘80s, when the portions were as big as the hair and restaurants would think you were certifiable if you wanted your caramel salted or to eat your dinner off a board rather than a plate.

The music was poppy, relatively loud, bouncy and unrecognisable to my middle-aged ears.

And the staff were young and friendly and belted out table-side versions of Happy Birthday when called upon.

Hot and spicy ribs

Hot and spicy ribs

In a perfect twist of meaty serendipidy the esteemed trio of barbecue buffs, had three new plates of ribs to try - Ultimate Golden Gate ribs, Hot and Spicy ribs, and Toffee Apple ribs.

Two of the new rib plates have the somewhat baffling option of swapping fries for sweet and salted popcorn.

This may sound unlikely but it’s true (see the attached promotional photos for evidence).

My initial response was: Who in their right mind would swap fries for popcorn, salted or sweet?

Blurred but happy - A rib fan at TGI Fridays SUS-180125-163710001

Blurred but happy - A rib fan at TGI Fridays SUS-180125-163710001

Sure enough, our friendly and very adept young waiter pointed out that no-one exercised that option and he was less than surprised when we opted for chippy fun to accompany our rib revelry.

We were given some fetching plastic bibs which looked as good as they sound, and proved useful when the ribs arrived and we began to salivate like wild dogs, albeit old slighty mangy dogs who’ve been kicked out of their pack for not moving fast enough and eating too much.

The Ultimate Golden Ribs were beauts, chargrilled and soon-to-be slathered in a golden mustard barbecue sauce.

They had been perfectly blackened after a long-enough dalliance with the grill and ably assisted by a sweet and savoury sauce.

As I type these words I’m drooling at the memory and unfortunately I’m not wearing my bib.

They were served with a suitably chargrilled corn on the cob, apple slaw and crispy fries, on a big old plate which was mercifully free of popcorn.

The Toffee Apple Ribs was the most curious tasting of the trio of new ribs, and divided opinion between those who marvelled at the sweet sauce and the others who thought they should save it for Hallow’een.

It was served with mini toffee apples and on balance we were glad to have not smothered the ribs in the sauce.

The clear winner on the evening were the Hot and Spicy Ribs, dusted with chilli seasoning, topped with fresh red chilies and smothered with hot and spicy sauce - a three-way chilli blast, if you feel that way inclined.

But if you’re not a chilli-chomping beast you could steer clear of the fresh chillies and still enjoy a relatively fiery but exceptionally tasty rack of ribs.

All three plates were a marvellous meaty melange of smokey tanginess and were as tender as mother’s love.

So, it transpired the rib afficiando had been right, what TGI Fridays doesn’t know about ribs probably isn’t worth adding to your marinade.

After the meal, as we posed for an ill-advised middle-aged group selfie inside a giant fairy-lit bauble (remember this was pre-Crimbo), I glanced at him, his pork-sated chops beamed happily and he seemed dimly vindicated in his rib reverie.

For a taste of the sticky stuff call 0344 264 0072 and book a table.

Visit www.tgifridays.co.uk/brighton-marina/ to whet your appetite and potentially wet your keyboard/phone or tablet.