Mad for Garlic is connected to the Tony Roma’s chain and I am glad that I didn’t know this before I went in as I would have been subconsciously comparing the two throughout. They are very different beasts, however. Whereas Tony Roma’s has a paint-by-numbers Western saloon style, MFG goes with a European theme which is glossy and darkly opulent. The main eating area is long and densely packed, but the smoking area, in a separate side-room is spacious and airy. The menu is, of course, a garlic-lover’s dream, but I have always been fairly ambivalent about the stuff. I remember being told as a kid that if you rub the bottom of your foot with garlic, your breath will smell garl-icky in 20 minutes. Perhaps the feet/garlic connection is just too strong in my mind.
I chose the Sweet Pepper Steak, while Mz had the Suicide Rice. It was at this point that I realized I had forgotten my phone and couldn’t take photos of the interior, which is normally my way of filling time until the food comes during a review. This was a great pity as the Sweet Pepper Steak was a stunner in terms of presentation. The suicide rice looked, well, like a pile of rice, garlic shavings, and chopped up ex-floating things (squid and octopus to be precise). I am not sure how they could improve the presentation, but this dish needed work. After a while, the waitress served us with cutlery. Well, when I say ‘served’, I mean she clunked down a basket of cutlery safely out of our reach and hoped that the jangling of metal within would serve as notice of its late arrival. No-one asked if we would like condiments on our table and the waiters scarpered out of sight, leaving only the barmen.
The steak needed a side dish, especially given the price, as it was just too overpoweringly peppery to eat with the minimalist vegetables provided. I ordered a second drink to quell the pepper-fire in my face and the waiter opted to pour it onto the napkin below the glass rather than into the glass. Given the oral inferno I was experiencing, I made a note to myself to use the diet coke-absorbing napkin as a tongue-balm later. Upon examining the napkin, it was then that I saw the Tony Roma’s branding. I am not sure if this is such a slick marketing move as it seems to shift the brand perception away from Paris and dump it closer to Vegas. This sums up my entire experience of this restaurant. They did so many things right, but in the end, treating diners like soul-less money donators will result in a significant paradigm-shift by the end of a meal.