After Dunkin’ Donuts, Taco Bell, and my favorite Five Guys, the invasion of American restaurants into The Netherlands continues with the opening today of Friday’s next to Utrecht Central Station. The moment I heard they were opening here I quickly looked them up to confirm it wasn’t just a rumor, saw that they were taking reservations – and opening day was still available! So ever since the 3rd of March when I booked our table for two, owing to nostalgia with all things American, I looked forward to the moment when I could sit down to a menu that was both comforting and painfully familiar, and reminded me of meals spent over the years of my past East Coast life.
Driving to Utrecht straight from work was a first, and took a bit of effort because of the distance and occasional rush hour traffic. Under normal Dutch circumstances we’d be taking the train, but the convenience of a personal vehicle is so ingrained in us now that it was a given we’d drive there. For the whole ride though all I kept thinking was how relieved I was to live close enough to work so as to avoid daily L.A.-like highway traffic. That I was okay to drive all the way there – on a Monday night no less – really was bordering on mild obsession.
With props to Utrecht’s impressive parking facilities, when we arrived it was a breeze to drive into Central Station and find our way to Friday’s. The kids pretending to play football outside the store and the cheerleaders greeting us at the entrance were overkill, I thought, and sitting close to the bar proved to be too loud to have a decent conversation but I imagined it was all due to opening day excitement. I sincerely hoped so. The place felt more Cheesecake Factory than TGIF but it was still huge, especially for local standards and for a few moments it felt like I was back in the States. The Cowboy Burger patty was delicious, especially with some satisfying fries on the side, and the choice of mildly sweet and buttery brioche bread was a relief. In spite all the effort to get there I was more than full and ready to call it a good experience. Looks like I know where I’ll be having a weekend lunch with some visiting U.S. friends this week.