Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Frankie & Benny's Restaurant Review

It was perfect timing to be asked to review the Frankie & Benny's restaurant chain at a time which coincided with my birthday.  So yesterday we headed off to the Telford branch to see how their food and service fared  up against the scrutiny of the Wendy House team!

Frankie & Benny's oozes pure Americana with great attention to detail ensuring that you feel immersed into a fun, 50's vibe that included authentic memorabilia and music.  The booth style seating adds to the American feel and the open plan kitchen area provides entertainment for the children as they watch the chefs at work.

We arrived at 4.50pm and the restaurant was very quiet allowing us to be quickly seated with an assortment of menus to hand.  The new Specials Menu was unfortunately not much use to us as there was only one vegetarian option on it.  However, although we were cutting it fine, we were allowed to order from the lunchtime menu that had much more choice and was much more reasonable than ordering from the Main Menu (a consideration when dining with the whole family) at only £8.25 for two courses.  The Children's Menu has offerings for children up to 11 so both Freddy and Kizzy ordered from that.  A Kids' main, dessert and drink costs £3.95.  The Junior version for larger appetites costs £7.55.  Both include a side of vegetables. We also got bottomless sodas for us grown-ups allowing free refills of fizzy drinks which proved great value.

After ordering, I inquired about the kids' activity packs to keep Freddy occupied while he waited for his meal, as no-one had mentioned them.  Unfortunately we were told that they were out of stock but instead gave him a colouring sheet and a handful of colouring pencils to use.  He was quite happy with that.

I started with the Garlic and Cheese Mushrooms with Garlic Ciabatta.  It was very nice but I ended up with bowl of sauce after I had eaten the mushrooms that was too much for the ciabatta to mop up.  I contemplated slurping it from the bowl but thought better of it!

My main was a Mediterranean Vegetable Burger which is a patty of peppers, tomatoes, olives and cheese in a bun served with garnish fries and a pot of relish.  The burger was very moist and tasty and I was impressed with the lettuce, onion, dill and tomato packed into the bun.  The fries were a very nice accompaniment and made for a very feeling and tasty vegetarian meal.

Meanwhile Freddy and Kizzy had their children's meals.  Freddy's Margherita was huge and he tucked into the freshly made pizza with gusto.  For £3.95 this was excellent value.  Kizzy's Junior meal was a Vegetable Pasta Bake which was some penne pasta with tomato sauce with a handful of carrots and broccoli thrown in.  Coincidentally, carrots and broccoli were the free side vegetable that the children received, so I felt that it was not really worth the extra money paid to get the upgraded kids' meal for her.  She did however really enjoy it.

We were really enjoying our meals and were receiving friendly and efficient service from the waiting staff who brought us refills of drinks and regularly asked if we needed anything.  We were very excited to test out the new dessert menu.  Freddy and Kizzy had their free ice creams from the Children's menu, but we ordered from the new range of sundaes.  I opted for Banoffee and Ian and Ella went for East Coast.  Having seen the photos on the front of the menu we were looking forward to tucking in to our sweet treat, which at £5.25 each promised to be good.  Sadly, this was not the case.

 My sundae was described as:

"To die for! Layers of toffee ice cream, banana, chocolate covered honeycomb and toffee sauce all topped with lashings of cream."

I  had visions of a delicious sundae, chockablock with good stuff.  Unfortunately, disappointment was all I felt when I received it.  One very small scoop of ice cream at the very bottom of the glass was topped with half a sliced banana and about 4" of aerosol cream.  Some toffee sauce was squeezed over the top, but it was really pitiful.  Not at all like the photos on the menu or posters advertising their new sundae range. The cream which constituted more than 50% of the dessert, virtually evaporated in seconds and the sundae was not worth the price at all.  In fact I can not believe that who ever made them up thought that the pathetic contents justified the price tag.  The East Coast sundae was no better.  Ella actually laughed at how little ice cream was in her ice-cream sundae!  I thought this was really unfortunate, sullying an otherwise very good meal.  As the sundaes are one of the new dishes being promoted, I would have hoped that Frankie & Benny's would have put effort into making them live up to the menu description.  It was a disappointing end to an otherwise good meal.

The bill came to £51.65 for five of us which is a reasonable price for a family meal including unlimited soft drinks  in a themed restaurant such as Frankie & Benny's.  I liked the ambience and the relaxed atmosphere; the lunch menu (available 11-5 Mon-Fri) is great value and there is a good choice for vegetarians on it....but seriously, forget the sundaes...what a let down!!

*We received a voucher in order to review the restaurant.*


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