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Frankie & Benny's (Stansted Airport)

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Address: T Building Airside / Bassingbourn Road / Stansted / CM24 1QW

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      30.07.2013 18:29
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      More impressed with F&B's at the airport than on the high street

      WHY CHOOSE FRANKIE & BENNY'S at STANSTED?

      As I live in Essex I always try to book my holiday flights from Stansted Airport. Stansted is in fact one of London's five international (or six if Southend's small airport is to be counted) airports, although it is situated in the county of Essex. For me Stansted Airport is in a convenient location and is especially easy to travel to when departing on an early morning flight, which I prefer to book for my outgoing flight.

      For my last few holidays I have fortunately been able to find package tours with flights leaving from this airport and these have mainly been timetabled to take off in the early hours. When we are flying in the morning I think a breakfast is in order. My husband and I consider the whole airport experience airport to be the start of our holiday so it is a bonus if all goes well at this early stage.

      I am a somewhat nervous flyer but as I want to travel to lovely places I have to put up with the millions butterflies dancing fluttering in my stomach. The trouble is when the flight is early morning I can't have an alcoholic beverage which can help to steady my nerves just a little when travelling later in the day. But I do need to eat as most flights of the shorter distance don't supply a proper meal anymore, only snacks. This is a shame, in my opinion, as I always found that on any flight that's over two hours (and ours are always longer than this nowadays) the task of eating and sorting out the meal tray and its fiddly wrapped contents, gave me something to do and so helped somewhat with the nerves situation. Oh well, I cope, but now choose to have a small breakfast before we leave the ground.

      For our last few airport breakfasts my husband and I (and some family members on a couple of occasions) have chosen to eat at Frankie & Benny's. I admit to not normally being the greatest fan of the Frankie & Benny's chain; I find their food often to be bland to be honest and overpriced for the quality, but F&B's at Stansted was recommended to me a few years back as a decent airport restaurant as service there is usually good and fairly quickly, very necessary if time is tight. I will say that for me this airport restaurant has largely been a success. It doesn't look or feel much like a high street F&B's to me and I think it fulfils its purpose better than a local restaurant in its chain fulfils theirs.

      OUR BREAKFASTS AT FRANKIE & BENNY'S

      On the first occasion that I ate here I wasn't very pleased at all. The food served to us wasn't warm and the service, or lack of it, also left much to be desired. On this occasion we were rushed and really shouldn't have bothered with a cooked meal but we did, not realising F & B's weren't coping well on that particular day. Rather than send the food back we ate some and hurried to our departure gate. I wasn't at all impressed but my son, who was with us at the time, said that I should give the restaurant another chance as he and his fiancée had had an enjoyable breakfast here before jetting off one of their earlier holidays. I listened to him and have to say that I'm glad I did. I have now dined at F&B's at Stansted several times since being disappointed and have fortunately been much more impressed.

      I am off to Zakynthos in a few weeks and as the flight is at eight in the morning, I expect myself and my husband will be breaking our fast at F&B's once again.

      The last time we ate here wasn't long ago, only being back in May. It was the first day of May, to be exact. We must have entered F&B's at a little before six in the morning.

      It's true to say that I am not really a morning person and I'm definitely not a breakfast person either, but when you've been up out of bed since around about three in the morning, showered, dressed and travelled to the airport as the sun has risen, by the arrival at the airport the stomach is a bit fooled, or mine is anyway, regarding time and tends to rumble early. Mind you, I can't eat much before flying as I am far too nervous, however, I knew (from remembering the last time we ate at Frankie & Benny's) what I wanted from the menu; I'm fairly certain I will also choose the same next month when I once again eat in F&B's at the airport.

      OUR CHOICES

      I think Frankie & Benny's at Stansted offer a decent breakfast menu. Diners can opt for a large full English breakfast, American breakfast, and a Vegetarian Breakfast (which consists of free range fried or scrambled eggs, grilled flat mushroom, French toast, grilled red and yellow peppers, grilled tomato and baked beans.) or instead choose lighter options such as scrambled eggs on toast.

      I ordered the Plain Omelette (£6.25) which is a three egg (free range) omelette served with a grilled flat mushroom and a tomato. I did wonder whether to try the vegetarian breakfast which had been recommended to me but I don't often eat in the morning so preferred to opt for a smaller meal, also I don't like French toast (fried bread to me!) and it was too early in the morning for me to consume red and yellow peppers (or even green!) therefore my choice seemed wiser.

      My husband ordered the traditional breakfast (£7.25) as the combination of one rasher of bacon, sausage, free range egg, either fried or scrambled, with a grilled tomato, mushrooms and one hash brown appealed the most to him. He likes a breakfast and feels human in the morning quicker than I do.

      We both decided on tea as a beverage but I also chose a glass of fresh orange juice.

      The tea and orange juice were brought to our table quickly. There were two small tea pots with cups and saucers. The pots each contained just about enough for two cups each. The trouble was (and this isn't just a fault with this restaurant) that the tea came up quickly and I like to wash my meal down with tea but, by the time the breakfast had been served and eaten the tea was only luke warm. I must remember to ask next time that the tea arrives with the meal.

      The glass which was full with the orange juice was large and so we shared this.

      My husband enjoyed his breakfast and so did I. We both thought that everything was cooked to our liking. My omelette was moist and soft as I like omelettes to be. The meals were the right choice for us being the right amount to eat just before travelling. Neither of us wants to feel overly full and uncomfortable.

      I always find the cutlery strange here as the knives and forks supplied are small and very rounded but I suppose this is as it's after security and so sadly, at present times, this type of cutlery is a safer option. I would imagine if one were choosing steak a better knife to cut would be supplied but I think as a rule this small cutlery is given out.

      Because our meals were served quickly we had enough time to eat, drink our tea, pay and not be in a mad panic to reach the gate in time to board our plane. Frankie & Benny's restaurants within airports do give the option of paying for your meal when ordering your food which can be a wise decision to take if you are in a hurry. We have done this before but didn't feel it was necessary on this occasion as we had enough time to be leisurely.

      I thought that the service was good being both quick and the staff being polite. The food was hot this time and tasted good. My husband asked for the bill which arrived quickly. Really for me, for a quick(ish) breakfast at an airport, Frankie & Benny's is an ideal place.

      MENU OPTIONS

      Of course flights aren't all scheduled for take-off in the morning so, as well as a breakfast menu, F&B's at Stansted Airport offer lunch, dinner, specials, desserts and lighter options.

      I have eaten lunch here before but cannot remember if the menu was as extensive as in a high street Frankie & Benny's, but lunch is served as is dinner. Main courses to choose from are pizzas, pasta dishes, fish and chips, salads and burgers, steaks, a few vegetarian options (choice could be better for us non meat eaters) and really offers the usual that you would expect from this chain. Also included are sides, starters and desserts.

      The lighter menu options at this chain gives choices of main courses which are no more than 650 calories and desserts at fewer than 200 calories. This seems to be a good idea for those wanting to be able to fit into that aeroplane seat!

      SEATING

      This particular F&B's has some seating in booth type arrangements which are raised from the ground. I find these quite nice. As there were only two of us seated at a table large enough for four we were pleased to have plenty of room to keep our hand luggage close.
      There are a variety of tables, the restaurant offering tables for two as well as larger family sized tables. But there isn't much floor space at all in between the tables.

      SERVICE

      Apart from our first disappointing visit to this restaurant at Stansted airport, we haven't had any cause for complaint since. We haven't had to wait long to be seated inside the restaurant and our order has always been taken quickly. If the restaurant is especially busy then we have been informed before ordering of approximate waiting times for meals. It seems as F&B's don't want people to miss their flights or waste their money, and are always very aware of the time element.

      The food is served fairly quickly but an early breakfast at this small airport is probably a better time to eat here than perhaps at lunch or dinner times when the airport and Frankie & Benny's itself will be at its busiest.

      TOILETS

      Toilets aren't actually located within F&B's but ladies, gents and disabled as well as baby changing facilities can all be be found very close by.

      DISABLED ACCESS

      The restaurant is accessible as it is on level ground. Some booth type seating is raised but there are plenty of tables on level ground. However this isn't a huge restaurant and many wheelchair users leave their chairs outside. Of course not everyone can do this and wheelchair users could possibly have to wait for a suitable table. In my experience restaurant staff are never far from the entrance and are most helpful. I was using a wheelchair on one visit here just for transport around the airport and so do have some experience of how things felt. Fortunately I was able to park the chair and walk a few paces to our allocated table.

      CHILDREN

      Children are allowed in of course and there ia a special menu for them but I have to say that I haven't actually seen many in here. I remember last time seeing a buggy inside with sleeping child but can't recall seeing, or hearing, many children. I am wondering if this is because there are easier options for families travelling with young children within Stansted Airport.

      I think probably more children might dine her for lunch and dinner rather than breakfast.

      PRICE

      For around the twenty pounds mark, with beverages, then I think Frankie & Benny's at this airport is a good option. I feel this is a reasonable price to pay for our meals. I wouldn't exactly call it gourmet food but it was definitely more than good and along with the usually fast and efficient service offered for me this restaurant is ideal for me and my husband and for our grown up family.

      LOCATION

      Frankie & Benny's at Stansted Airport can be found after going through security at Stansted Airport.
      Address:

      T Building Airside
      Bassingbourn Road
      Stansted
      CM24 1QW

      FURTHER DETAILS

      OPENING HOURS: 04:00 until the last outgoing flight.

      TELEPHONE: +44 (0)1279 669 557

      FOOD SERVED:

      Mon:4am - last flight
      Tue:4am - last flight
      Wed:4am - last flight
      Thu:4am - last flight
      Fri:4am - last flight
      Sat:4am - last flight
      Sun:4am - last flight

      OVERALL

      Well, apart from our first mediocre experience of this restaurant we have been pleased. It depends what you're after really. For us we want a decently cooked meal with quick service and then to be on our way, perhaps with time to go in a shop or two and then be ready to have time to spare to reach our departure gate. We haven't travelled with children for a few years now and as we've only been in here as a couple or adult family then it suits us, especially if ordering a breakfast.

      I like the fact that you wait at the entrance and are then shown to a table as one becomes available rather than have to stand around and try to grab a newly vacated table.

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