“ For all Glasgow restaurants „
===Fly me to the moon===
At the beginning of May, my partner Allan and I went on holiday to Rhodes. With that comes the fun and often expensive trip through the airport (Glasgow airport to be exact) Duty free stung us on aftershave, WHSmith stung us on sweets so we figured, what the hay, let's go have a bite to eat before we leave. Spotting a Frankie and Benny's hiding away in the corner, we made a dash for it.
===Introducing the boys===
Frankie Giuliani left Sicily in 1924 with his parents at the ripe old age of ten and ended up in Ellis Island in New York before moving into an area referred to as "Little Italy" because it was predominantly Italian residents. The family started a restaurant and went from strength to strength. Meanwhile Frankie went to high school and became friends with Benny. In 1953 Frankie's father retired and handed the business over to Frankie and Benny who combined the Italian food with American nosh to make their now world famous chain. At least that's what they tell you on the menus and on the website though it would seem that the chain actually started in the UK in 1995 and is owned by The Restaurant Group. Nothing like a good old tall-story to set the scene eh? If you wish to contact them they have addresses, phone numbers and even a website with a contact form the details of which you can find below:
5-7 Marshalsea Road
0845 612 5003
Office opening hours:
Monday - Friday 9am- 5.30pm
Website/ contact form:
You can only get to this if you are going on holiday. It's on the other side of security. You walk out through duty free then turn right and right again and you'll be met with a large staircase leading up into the restaurant. You can access the airport via bus, taxi or car and it takes about 15-20 minutes to get there in clear traffic from Glasgow City Centre which has fantastic train and bus links. Parking shouldn't really be something you're considering here as you need to have paid a tonne for a flight somewhere to get any access to the place. You'll either be in a long stay car-park already or you'll have arrived on a shuttle bus. One issue you might come up against is the staircase. I couldn't see any lifts or otherwise for people who aren't as mobile as the rest of us, so the stairs may cause a problem for some.
===Flying high ===
Entering the restaurant the first thing that I noticed was that the entire left side looked out over the airfield giving you fantastic views of planes coming and going. Directly in front of you is a fully stocked bar and all around you will find dark wood and leather giving the place a very comfortable and warm look. There are booths and tables along the window so if you want to watch the planes while you eat, head left. If you hate flying and don't want to think about it, head right. There you'll find a couple of more private booths with a less obvious view of the terrifying air-machines. Being that I hate flying (but will gladly reduce myself to tears to go on holiday) that's where we headed. Straight away a waiter came over with menus and advised us that the area we had chosen was a self serve / bar area so when we wanted to order we'd have to pop up to the bar. If you choose the more visible areas of the restaurant you'll get the full waited on service as normal. As for the opening times, you're likely to catch this one open. It opens at 6am every day and doesn't close till the last flight has left for the day. Fab!
===Paying the Price===
Usually in Frankie and Benny's you'd pay your bill after your meal. I had noticed signs all around, however, touting the fact that you could pay when you order if you prefer. As you are in an airport, I guess that's to save any waiting around after you are finished your meal so you don't need to worry about ditching the bill. Not that you'd worry yourself if you didn't have to pay. It's probably so they don't get a million customers doing a dine-and-dash. If you are an honest type like me, though, you'll probably be impressed with this tiny and obvious service... even if you probably shouldn't be sitting in the restaurant if you don't have time to eat.
That brings me nicely to my next point. There are no departure screens that we could see in the restaurant. That's a bit disconcerting to me. If I'm sitting down I like to be able to see some flight information so I know if it changes. Is that just me being anal? Again though, not a huge issue if you've got time to sit and eat. If not, probably best just not have a meal.
The menus are pretty much the same no matter where you go. They have a really good mix of meaty and delicious dishes as well as vegetarian options. Burgers, pizzas, fish, steaks, pastas, salads, there's generally something for everyone. They don't have anything that is suitable for anyone on a gluten free diet however (and I think rather cheekily) they state that you can bring your own gluten free items and they would prepare them for you but even then couldn't guarantee you a 100% gluten free meal. If you're counting your calories, the main menu won't be much help to you as it doesn't list anything for you, however they do have a "lighter" menu that includes the calories for the foods on it if you wanted to give that a look. Something I also noticed on their website is that you are not allowed to order from the children's menu unless you are under the age of 11 which I find quite bizarre. They do some dishes that are suitable for Vegans as well as vegetarians though there isn't a huge range past salads and sorbet.
===Cell block F(and B)===
We delved into the menu and I came out with my usual request when I go to a Frankie and Benny's: Steak. An 8oz rump steak to be exact. This set me back £17.45 and was served with cherry "vine" tomatoes and a giant fried mushroom with a tonne of fries and salad. The inverted commas were used around "vine" due to the fact they weren't served on the vine as the menu suggests they will be. Not a huge problem really. The problem is that I ordered a steak. In an airport. Where no-one will give you anything sharp. Like a steak knife. Doi. It only occurred to me once the steak was brought over that I hadn't been supplied with anything sharper than a severely prison-blunt butter knife. As it had already hit me that I'd not get a decent knife I sheepishly approached the bar to double check that I was right and unfortunately I was. I've actually sent them a suggestion that they mention this on airport menus as I had to sit through 20 minutes of sawing, getting nowhere, picking the steak up and tearing at it with my teeth to actually eat the thing. My caveman eating style was the only thing that managed to get through the fat on the edges of the steak.
Other than this complete lack of foresight on my part, I have to admit the steak was otherwise perfect. If I'd had a steak knife it would have been perfectly enjoyable. It was cooked medium rare just like I had asked and tasted fresh and delicious. The sides were all cooked brilliantly with the fries having a slight crunch to them and being soft on the inside.
Allan opted for a much more sensible choice of a cheeseburger for £10.45. This dish was pretty much what it said on the menu. A burger, with Monterey jack cheddar, pickles, lettuce, some fries and a little pot of tomato-chilli relish on the side. After picking off the pickles, Allan was quite happy with his choice and happily made a point of showing me how to cut meat with a blunt knife. At least he enjoyed himself! He scoffed the lot!
===Drinking the day away===
As I mentioned before they have a fully stocked bar spirit wise though they don't stock things like blue wkds at this branch. We each went for a simple orange juice, though I supplemented mine with a shot of good old Jose Cuervo tequila. The drinks are quite expensive with everything soft drinks wise (including water) coming in between £2.45 and £2.95. Beers are all above £4 a bottle and the cheapest glass of wine is £3.20. Given that you get free booze from duty free if you ask the right questions, you'd probably be better getting tanked there if that's what you're after.
===Flying to the loo===
As with any restaurant the loos are a big area that can lose or gain points. This branch of Frankie and Benny's don't seem to have their own toilets and instead you have to walk through a door that takes you to another section of the airport to the standard airport toilets. That does mean that they are very well looked after. The only down side is that the toilets here rely on a hand towel dispenser for drying your hands and have no air-dry system in place. Allan went to the loo before me and all was fine, but he must have used the last of the hand towels so I found myself having to frantically shake my hands and then get the rest of the water off on my jeans to dry my hands. I won't take points off as it really was just bad timing on my part and it was obvious the toilets were well looked after otherwise. If you are disabled and have managed to battle your way up the stairs, you'll be glad to know that the toilets are very spacious and on the same level as the restaurant so at least you won't have double the struggle on your hands if you do need to pop to the bathroom.
Something else that can lose point big time is unhelpful staff. Thankfully the staff in this branch were all very friendly and attentive when approached. We had sat in the self service area but they made a point of telling us straight away and when approached for a steak knife the woman I talked to was very polite. Even the girl who brought the food gave us a big smile and a sincere "enjoy your meal". Maybe she had foreseen my steak struggle and was secretly giggling?
We came in at just over £30 for two main courses and two drinks. To me, that's quite expensive. You also have to take into account, however, that you are in an airport where even the Weatherspoons before security charged about a tenner for an all day breakfast. We had expected it to be expensive, and you probably should too. The only other cheaper option to eating at the restaurant would be bringing your own food or buying some snacks from the Tesco at the main door of the airport.
Ever since I've been with Allan he's shown me that making a complaint when things aren't quite right tends to get you quite far. In this case, I sent an email to the CEO of The Restaurant Group who apologised for the lack of informing customers re steak knifes and passed it on to the area manager to deal with. In all it took about two weeks to get from complaint to resolution and I've ended up with a £20 voucher for any Frankie and Benny's restaurant which will come in rather handy when we pop through to Glasgow next week. Huzzah! Apparently it should be a general thing that people are informed about steak knifes in airport branches and I should have been offered for the kitchen to cut the steak up for me. So at least now I know if I've not been offered I can ask without getting looked at like a crazy.
Overall I'd say that this place was about average for a Frankie and Benny's, which in my experience is a good thing! The food was good, the place looked nice and the music was relaxing; just what I need before going for a fly. The staff were friendly and helpful, the toilets were clean. The only downside about our visit was the lack of a steak knife which I will have to take points off for. Hopefully the complaint I made is now fed back and it'll be rectified for future customers. Given, it's not their fault, but they should make a point of warning customers either on the menu or at the point of ordering if they are getting a steak. Either way, that still leaves it with a respectable 4 out of 5 stars from me!
*Review originally written 28/05/13 and remains unedited*
With yesterday being a bank holiday, my fiance decided to treat us to lunch. We fancied a trip to Glasgow and decided to take a wander along to Springfield Quay. This is a complex on the River Clyde and here you will find Mecca Bingo, bowling, a cinema and various places to eat including Harvester, Chiquitos and a few other restaurants. We were in the mood for a Frankie and Benny's so chose to eat here for lunch. I have experience of a few Frankie and Benny's and have had mixed experiences of them.
~Frankie and Benny's~
0141 429 0055
Frankie and Benny's is a chain of restaurants specialising in Italian and American cuisine. There are a few F&Bs in Glasgow but my review is based on the one at the Springfield Quay. There is free parking available at the back of the restaurant. The Quay is around 20 minutes walk from Glasgow Central train station or a few minutes by car on the A8 or M8 motorway. The restaurant is open daily from 0900hrs to 2300hrs (2230hrs on a Sunday). We walked here along the side of the Clyde and it didn't take very long at all.
~Exterior and Interior~
This particular restaurant is visible as you approach The Quay and the building looks modern. Outdoor seating is available. Inside, the restaurant is very much like any other Frankie and Benny's - booth and table seating with some high seats at the bar. The decor is warm with reds and browns but the restaurant lacks any decent lighting. The kitchen is visible which I love as I enjoy seeing my food being cooked. There is a lot packed into the space that the restaurant has.
Whilst it is set over one level, the aisles aren't terribly spacious. There isn't much room to store prams though they do offer high chairs for babies. I wouldn't say that it is the most disabled friendly restaurant especially when overly busy as it would be difficult to find suitable table spaces for those in wheelchairs as it is quite cramped. The toilets are located at the back of the restaurant and there is suitable baby changing and disabled toilets there. I would recommend requesting a table at the window side of the restaurant as it is quite relaxing to look out onto the water in my opinion. If you are a fan of 1950s music from Dean Martin and Nat King Cole, you will appreciate the background noise.
~Standard of Service~
We arrived at the restaurant around 1330hrs on a busy Bank Holiday Monday. The restaurant was very busy and as we didn't have reservations, we had to wait for around 10 minutes. We were given a little buzzer which vibrates and flashes when your table is ready. We had a seat near the window which gave us time to look over the menu. The service was efficient and friendly. The staff are rushed off their feet but manage to keep their calm and do their job very effectively. The serving of food was a little slow but this could be overlooked as the restaurant was full to capacity. Tables were cleared quickly and the restaurant is kept clean and tidy by the servers.
~Food on Offer~
I find the selection of food on offer at this restaurant to be really good though mainly focussed on meaty dishes so vegetarians may be disappointed with the selection of dishes they have to choose from. I will try to be brief but would like to inform you of some of the dishes available.
There are various special menus which you can order from at Frankie and Benny's and this is dependent on when you visit. Breakfast is served until 1200hrs and the meals have a set price of £5.00 each which is fair for some dishes but not others in my opinion. I would happily pay £5.00 for a big breakfast but not for poached eggs on toast. They offer a veggie breakfast but this doesn't include veggie sausages which doesn't seem right.
The midweek lunch menu (1100hrs to 1700hrs) offers good value for money - £5.95 (one course) £8.25 (two courses) and £9.25 (three courses). There is a good selection of dishes on offer including soup, doughballs, pizza, pasta, wraps and burgers as well as ice cream, brownies and waffles for dessert. Vegetarians have the choice of a wrap, pasta or a veggie burger.
There is specials menu available all day from Sunday to Friday which is also good value for money - £10.95 (two courses) and an additional £2.25 to add a dessert. The selection is a bit more limited here but you can indulge in crab bruschetta, philly chicken wrap, salad and various pasta bakes as well as mint choc waffles and crumbles for dessert. Vegetarian options include mushroom crostini, pizza or a veggie gnocchi bake.
The main menu has the best selection but is a little more expensive. Starters are priced from £3.95 and include coated chicken strips and calamari. Various salads are available as are pasta bakes, calzone pizza and various steak and fish dishes. The full menu is on the website. Prices can be high - the oven baked pesto salmon coming in at £13.25 for example. There is a lighter menu too. Vegetarians can opt for bruschetta, penne arrabiata, cannelloni, pizza and burgers.
There is a seperate dessert menu offering delicious sundaes and cheesecakes (from £3.95). Children have a choice of a small portion or larger portion of various dishes (from £3.95 inc juice and dessert) including spaghetti, chicken pasta, pizza, wraps and hotdogs with ice cream or banana custard for dessert. F&Bs also offer a varied selection of drinks including coffee (free refills), draught juice (free refills) and beer, spirits and cocktails. Cocktails start from £2.50 up to £14.99.
We were very hungry after our walk to the restaurant and had already decided on our meal choices by the time we were seated. We usually visit the F&Bs in Hamilton but noticed that the menu has been updated recently to include some new dish selections. Both myself and my fiance finally decided to order from the specials menu. To be fair, I did want a main course from the lunch menu but was swayed by the desserts on the specials menu so that made my mind up!
We ordered some drinks - a lemonade for our son, Pepsi for my fiance and a diet Pepsi for myself. The drinks were brought to our table promptly as were further refills making the £2.55 seem a bit more reasonable for a soft drink. Our starters and our sons main meal arrived within 15 minutes are were well presented and piping hot. My fiance opted for the mushroom crostini - a garlic ciabatta bread topped with garlic mushrooms in a cajun and blue cheese sauce. The portion size was just right for a starter and looked delicious. He enjoyed it.
I decided to have the dough sticks with dip and received a portion of four, long dough sticks which were a tiny bit overcooked on the outside but perfect inside. I opted for the philly cheese dip which was a thick, rich cheese sauce with a strong flavour. My fiance didn't like it but as a cheese lover, I found it to be delicious and the perfect dip for my dough sticks. My son had a childrens portion of chicken strips and fries. His portion was quite big and substantial for a five year old and as always, the fries were delicious and the chicken strips were meaty and tasty.
Our main courses were served after a 20 minute wait and again, were well presented and served hot. I really wasn't sure what to have as nothing on the specials menu really grabbed me. I settled for the chicken carbonara bake - penne pasta, pancetta bacon, mushrooms and a creamy cheese sauce. I was quite disappointed with the portion size and to be fair, the dish didn't look very excited at all. It looked a little short on sauce but wasn't as dry as I anticipated. My little bowl was filled with al dente pasta, a small amount of chicken and little bacon pieces and plenty of mushrooms (which I picked to the side as I don't like them). I would say that my dish was nice enough and the cheese sauce had a pleasant flavour to it but wasn't as rich as I would have liked. I wouldn't have been happy to pay the full menu price of £10.95 for this dish - it could do with a side of fries or at least some garlic bread to make it more worth the money in my opinion as it is quite boring as a stand alone dish but I am very fussy!
My fiance ordered a BBQ burger and he received an excellent sized portion. The burger bun was packed full of bacon, lettuce, onion, tomato and a 6oz burger which was very meaty. The fries were up to the usual high standard of F&Bs and the tomato-chilli dip was perfectly flavoured. My fiance enjoyed his meal but couldn't finish it all hence why I got to try it! I found the burger to be delicious but with all the toppings and the smokey BBQ sauce, it was a tad messy and sloppy to eat.
When I go out for a meal at a nice restaurant, I like to have a dessert as a treat. My fiance didn't fancy one but that didn't deter my son and I. I actually knew which dessert I would be ordering from the moment we reached the entrance to the restaurant as it was pictured on the menu outside and looked soooo yummy! It is quite a new dessert to F&Bs but not completely. F&Bs are famous for their cheesecakes and this particular dessert was a salted caramel cheesecake with ice cream so basically, a new take on the traditional cheesecake! I had to wait for it though which I wasn't pleased about as I wanted it right away and could see it sitting on the counter for a good 5 minutes before it was brought to our table - why do they do it to us!
Oh my - it was delicious and I would have it again! I received a decent sized slice of creamy, moist cheesecake with a very thin biscuit base. Some may prefer a thicker base but for me, the actual cheesecake and topping is what I'm after. I would say that they could have added a little more salted caramel sauce but based on what I had on my cheesecake, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The salt and sweet balance was just right and there was a good amount of chocolate honeycomb pieces on the cheesecake too and the ice cream was deliciously creamy. I would highly recommend this dessert! My son opted for vanilla ice cream with chocolate buttons and it was served in a tall glass which made him feel rather grown up. I appreciated that this was included with his meal and he enjoyed it.
Whilst I wouldn't personally opt for the carbonara main course again, we thoroughly enjoyed our meals. Our bill came to £34.00 which I feel was a great price for what we got and would personally recommend opting for the set menus if there is something on it that takes your fancy. Be aware that the portion size for main courses isn't the same for all meals and I have discovered this from various visits to Frankie and Benny's - some meals are more filling than others. Our tummies were satisfied after our entire meal so we walked some of it off on our journey back to the centre of Glasgow! We paid by cash but cards are accepted and the machine is brought to your table.
Other points to mention include the toilets - clean and well stocked but unfortuantely, this particular restaurant doesn't play the music in the toilets which my fiance saw fit to comment on! The restaurant is family friendly and offers little colouring packs and balloons to children. F&Bs have regular special offers including 25% off from 1700hrs on a Monday so these are worth looking out for. You could really make a day of it in the complex too if you are going to the cinema or bowling and then for a bite to eat. We would go back here and I can recommend it. It was a lovely treat for us.
Thanks for reading :)