A long time ago Jonny and I visited a Frankie and Benny’s restaurant when at an airport. It was not a pleasant experience and we vowed never to go back. Years later and having read some great blogger’s reviews I thought perhaps it was time we gave it another whirl. So, when I was asked if I would like £30 towards a meal from the new specials menu I said yes please and we’ve looked forward to giving it a go ever since. It’s been a few weeks since I agreed to do the review but time and logistics have meant that it wasn’t until this weekend just gone that we finally got to go, so… what did we think?
Well, in a nut shell, it was not a pleasant experience and the food was far from anything I would be prepared to part with money for. We’ve been doing lots of restaurant reviews recently and I had kind of expected it to be as good as some of the other meals we’ve been treated to of late but it fell short on almost every level. It’s a shame because I much prefer to say what a fab time we’ve had and speak in depthly about flavours but I just can’t do that here.
We arrived on Sunday night at 7 without booking. It was busy but that’s not their fault and we were asked if we’d like to take a seat in the bar and have a drink while we waited for a table. We were given a buzzer to let us know when it would be ready. We ordered drinks and were told we couldn’t add them to our bill without a table number. After really questioning it the bar girl said that ‘perhaps there was a way if we REALLY insisted’… It wasn’t a good start. But, the wait wasn’t long and we were shown to a great table out of the way and perfect for a family with small children. I don’t know if luck or judgement but we were pleased with where we were sitting and Jimmy, fast asleep, could stay in his car seat. Florence was given an activity pack with crayons and games which kept her very occupied – it was a good job as we had some mammoth waiting times in store little did we know!
The waitress was very attentive to be fair to her and I think I have to mention it because she really was working very hard yet she still came to us quickly and whenever we looked over and our starters were brought very quickly. I was asked if Florence wanted her meal with our starters and had originally said no but when the food arrived and she said she wanted hers I called the waitress over who went off and relayed the message to the chefs. Florence’s food was with us about 20 minutes later, so far so good. The starters all looked quite nice and in fact mine and Jonny’s were perfectly edible. I had BBQ Chilli Wings and he had Crab Brushetta. My Mum had also come with us and chosen the BBQ Pulled Pork Potato Skins which she said were not awful but definitely not very tasty. And then we waited… And waited… And waited… An hour after our starters and finally, after asking the waitress where our food was, the main courses arrived.
I can only say that I wish they hadn’t. For my Mum, the Ranch Burger, Jonny the BBQ Burger and for me the Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich. They all looked ok (apart from the oddly flower shaped burgers) but they were none of them good in varying orders of rubbishness.
Firstly the burgers were utterly disgusting. I tasted my Mum’s who actually literally couldn’t eat it. At all. Not even the chips and garnish because she was so off put by the taste of her burger. It was spongey, didn’t taste like beef and presented in a wierd flower shape. It was just as you would imagine a highly processed and frozen burger to taste and would not be mis-placed at a greasy road side burger van. In fact grease seemed to be the main ingredient. Jonny can very rarely not eat something. I have known my husband to polish off breakfasts in a can, pies in a can… He even ate onion rolls which were pretty bad to begin with, stale and teamed with chocolate spread. He struggled with this burger and after a couple of mouthfulls had to remove it and just eat the chips and bun. I had by now taken my Mum’s back to the hatch to tell them it was inedible and one of the waiters came over to see us.
He seemed pretty concerned but was quite aggressive in his attitude and seemed hell bent on insisting that we didn’t like the burgers because the chefs had put too much sauce on them. True, the sauces were quite potent, synthetic tasting and not to our taste but it was the meat taste and texture which we found so off putting. The manager came over and just wanted to go over and over the same thing asking us the same questions. In the end I told him I was there to review and this only seemed to make things worse. They’d offered to take my Mum’s food off the bill which was welcome but now they were insisting we have something else or eat a desert. My Mum and Jonny just felt really ill from the taste of the burger and didn’t want anything else. Florence was beyond tired as we’d been waiting such a long time and we all just wanted to go home. The manager kept going over what the flower burgers had in them, which he didn’t know for sure, but thought was just herbs and other things and wouldn’t leave us alone. My own sandwich by the way was cold. The steak was chewy and the bread limp, nothing like Ciabatta as I know it and the coleslaw as utterly vile with a very thin and watery mayonnaise.
Eventually I ordered one desert for the purpose of review and it was quite nice. It looked awful but tasted ok which was the opposite of the main courses but I know what I’d rather have. Again the manager came over motioning with his hands as if eating and asking why we hadn’t all had deserts. We told him we’d had one and he then kept throwing ideas at us from the menu, he just wouldn’t get the message or go away. He was trying to be helpful but it was just very irritating especially as we’d made our feelings clear. On top of that he kept saying how busy they were and how the waitress was new as if it was her fault?? In fact the waitress waited on us well and presumably as she’s not the chef, she wasn’t in charge of the wait times.
We had a voucher to pay £30 towards our meals from the specials menu including drinks and we were going to top up the rest but the manager eventually said not to pay anything. He used our voucher and said that after deducting that plus the food he had removed from the bill, there was only £6 to pay and he wasn’t going to charge us for that. At least that was something…
We wouldn’t go back to Frankie and Benny’s based on our experience and we cannot recommend it either. We dined at the Norwich branch of the chain of restaurants.
I was not paid to write this post but was provided with a voucher for £30 towards a meal at Frankie and Benny’s.