Birthday Bash with Benny (and Frankie)

I went out for a meal with the family, at Frankie and Benny’s to celebrate my birthday. I had thought about cooking a meal, or even going further afield, however as it was a school night we decided to go somewhere local.

As it was my birthday, I “joined” the F&B Birthday Club, which means that my meal was free, if another main course is purchased. Now I did think what that actually meant was that I had to buy one meal, and get one free, with the cheapest one being free. What it actually meant was that the meal that I chose would be the free one. So looking over the menu I decided on the rib eye steak.

Our succulent 8oz* 28 day aged rib eye steak is best cooked medium, served with a roasted tomato, flat mushrooms, onion rings and a fresh watercress garnish. Choose from house fries, salad or a jacket.

I felt slightly cheeky as this was the second most expensive item on the menu, only the Mixed Grill was more expensive, but I like a nice rib eye steak. I was secondly cheeky asking for half and half, fries and salad. When asked how I liked my steak, I said medium-rare.

The restaurant was quite busy, so the food took a little while to arrive, as I cut into my steak I was disappointed to find that it had been cooked well-done, as a result it was slightly tough and lacked flavour. Not too happy about that I called over a member of the waiting staff. I showed her the cut steak, and she was excellent about it, she said she would get a fresh steak for me.

As that was cooking, she came over and explained that another customer had complained that her steak was underdone, they believed there had been a slight mix-up in the kitchen.

My new steak arrived, a complete fresh dish. with new fries and new salad. This time the steak was done to my taste, it was tender and tasty and a nice chargrilled flavour. The fries were crispy, with a nice crunch. The salad was simple, it came already dressed and was fresh and tasty. Overall I was pleased with the dish.

As for everything else, the food was great and enjoyed by all. When the bill came, not only was my meal free, but they had also paid for my drink due to the kitchen mix-up, nice little extra piece of good service.

Crab Cake Salad

Taking lunch at Frankie and Benny’s and wanting something rather light, I went with the Crab Salad.

Crab Cake

The menu describes it as “Our large oven baked crab cake served on a bed of mixed leaves with tomato, roasted red pepper and onion, tossed in our sweet chilli dressing with half a chargrilled lemon on the side.”

I was really interested to see how this was going look and taste, I did initially expect a heavy crab cake, with more potato than crab. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the crab cake was made in the main with crab. There was a good flavour and texture, I liked the subtle crispness on the outside, the soft textured inside.

I did enjoy the salad, though I think if I was going to have this again I would ask for no dressing. The sweet chilli dressing was a little too sticky and sweet for me. I think I would have preferred olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I was slightly disappointed with the salad when writing this review as the menu description talks about roasted red peppers, and there were no red peppers. I hadn’t noticed when I was eating it, so didn’t complain at the time. I didn’t see the point of the chargrilled lemon, why chargrill it, it didn’t add anything and it didn’t really need it.

I liked the crab cake, and enjoyed the dish, I would order it again.

Cajun Burger

Cajun Burger

The last time I had a burger at a restaurant was at Bella Italia and I really enjoyed it. It had flavour and texture and was a really enjoyable meal.

On a recent visit to Frankie and Benny’s I had a Cajun Burger. Now I was hoping to get a similar good burger, however I was to be slightly disappointed.

It was a highly processed burger and not what I was expecting at all. It had a very fine texture and wasn’t exactly full of flavour. The bun however was nice and the garnish for the burger was good as well.

The fries were crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. The relish came out of a jar, I did expect that, however it is the rare place these days that make their own relishes, and you wouldn’t expect that in a restaurant chain.

The one thing that I would have liked alongside the burger was some salad, but I guess that would be a side order that would be extra.

Overall the Cajun Burger was nice and tasty, I am guessing that my expectations were high and what I got wasn’t what I was expecting.

Don’t buy the pasta!

Remind me please that if I ever go to Frankie and Benny’s again, don’t order the pasta!

You know for am American Italian Diner I am disappointed how they serve pasta, which in my opinion should be a signature dish for them. Similarly how difficult is it to get pasta wrong?

I should have remembered when I ordered the Philly Steak Bake which was not the best pasta dish I had eaten. I should have known better, you would think? The thing is back then my son had ordered the Spaghetti Oceana which looked great and according to my son was delicious.

Chicken Penne Romana

So this time I ordered Chicken Penne Romana, which was penne pasta with chicken breast, spicy pepperoni and pancetta bacon tossed with Mamma’s rich Neapolitan tomato and herb sauce. It came with the choice of fries or salad. Now why on earth did is come with fries, okay partly my fault I should have chosen the salad option! It is a very British thing I believe that to have potatoes and pasta together, you know lasagne and chips for example.

Next time, choose the salad, next time… well next time I won’t choose the pasta so it won’t be a problem.

So what about the pasta? Let’s be straight, it certainly wasn’t an awful dish, so bad I couldn’t eat it. No it was certainly edible and I did finish the dish. The thing is, it could have been so much better. The so called rich tomato sauce, was anything but rich, and lacked flavour and richness. It was too bland and it was this that really marked down the quality of the dish. When you read the description “tossed with Mamma’s rich Neapolitan tomato and herb sauce” you kind of expect that to be the case, the reality was that didn’t happen, the pasta was in the bowl and the sauce poured on top. If you wanted it tossed you were going to have to do that yourself.

It was a pity that the dish turned out the way it did, as the concept sounded really good.

I wish I had ordered that…

Sometimes when going out to eat I think about what I would like to eat, of course you then make a choice, but when the food eventually arrives, you think, I wish I had ordered that.

Of course it doesn’t always work that way, usually I am happy with what I have ordered, and sometimes I am really glad I ordered what I did, but now and again you wish you could have chosen differently.

I had a recent experience of that at Frankie and Benny’s where I had ordered the Philly Steak Bake.

My son had gone with the Spaghetti Oceana (£9.25). Spaghetti tossed in our Neapolitan tomato sauce with large prawns, clams and garlic. Served with a fresh rocket, tomato and red onion salad sprinkled with Grana Padano and half a char-grilled lemon on the side for added flavour.

Spaghetti Oceana

This looked fantastic and according to my son tasted great.

My wife went with the Californian Pizza (£9.75). Creamy goat’s cheese, slices of fresh tomato, mixed peppers, sautéed mushrooms and red onion, with melted mozzarella on our tomato and nut pesto base.

Californian Pizza

It looked really nice and she said it was delicious and she finished it off, and there was me hoping that I might get a slice at the end.

This was one of those meals where I wished I had what someone else ordered.