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Italian Lessons in the Loo!
Frankie & Benny's
Member Name: lily7star
Frankie & Benny's
Date: 06/05/01, updated on 20/01/02 (1169 review reads)
Advantages: nice food, good atmosphere, authentically American-Italian
I've just discovered our local Frankie and Benny's, solved a family dispute which was threatening to turn into World War 3 if I hadn't acted quickly, and learnt how to find a chemist's if I ever need one when visiting Italy. All in an evening's work!
It all started when I got a small but unexpected and very welcome windfall. This soon grew into an idea which got the boys helping me (with my bad back) sand down and treat all the outdoor furniture. It ended with the reward of a meal out at the end of the job at a location to be chosen by them.
Just one small problem. The eateries of their choice served *either* Pizza *or* burgers, and our rather fragile family harmony was threatened by the fact that 2 of them wanted Pizza and the other wanted to go to Burger King for, as he put it, an unhealthy helping of grease. No changing it. We were stuck, and the whole treat looked like degenerating into a bun fight.
Until I remembered Frankie and Benny's that was. I had been there once before, a very long time ago, remembered it being OK, and had a feeling that out of all the local eateries I could call to mind, this was probably the only one serving BOTH Pizza and a very passable burger. The decision had been made.
Frankie and Benny's (hereafter abbreviated to save my poor fingers)is an Italian/American chain of Bar/restaurants. I'd heard that it had a good reputation, and figured that the food would be to my kids' satisfaction even if not neccesarily my choice. I was not disappointed.
The interior of the restaurant is done out in New York diner style. My kids, who are regular travellers to New York and have frequently eaten out over there, were well impressed and decided that the only anglicised feature was the "Toilets" sign - it really should have read "Restrooms". Oh, and they also felt that to be truly American, there should have been free drink refills, but in fact NYC re
staurants don't always do this either.
It's not very brightly lit, you sit on red plastic-covered padded benches, and the celing fans and baseball photos all over the walls lend authenticity to the atmosphere. The kitchen area where the food is cooked is open to view, and there is a bar in one corner.
We sat down and looked at the menu....and waited....and waited. We had not chosen a peak time to eat, and had expected to get served very quickly, however I eventually had to ask if someone could take our order. For younger kids there are the ubiquitous colouring books, but my kids were obviously considered rather old for such distraction techniques and were getting fidgety. Once our choices were made, though, and the order taken, the service improved considerably and we had no further long waits.
The food is as you'd expect from a restaurant of this style - a mix of Italian and American. Predictably 2 of my kids chose pizzas and the other chose a cheese and bacon burger. I went for a mushroom sandwich (!) and for starters we chose the Platter, designed for 2 adults to share, between the 4 of us.
The Platter is the size you'd expect it to be stateside - huge and overflowing with calorie-packed goodies. The diet was out the window as I tucked in, alongside the kids, to deep-fried baby corn and broccoli (only way I've ever seen them voluntarily eat the stuff!)mozarella sticks, deep-fried, stuffed potato skins, garlic and herb-stuffed mushrooms (yum - all mine, the kids hate mushrooms with a passion)onion rings, chicken strips and sour cream and tomato dips. I've had many of this type of dish in cheaper Harvester-type restaurants and found it greasy and mediocre, but this was crispy, succulent and absolutely delicious. It all disappeared in a matter of minutes.
The next course was just as tasty. The pizzas are more "typical" italian pizzas than you'd buy in Pizza Hut, so my kids didn't
rate them as highly as those, however they were eaten without a crumb being left. They had to have these cut up for them though, as they weren't ready-sliced as they are more typically used to. The burger was juicy, as big as you'd expect, and on a plate piled *high* with fresh crisp fries. My mushroom came on toasted ciabatta with pesto mayonnaise and the hugest pile of fries which the pizza-eating kids had no trouble helping me to consume. All in all a delicious and perfectly-cooked meal.
After all that food, not to mention the coke and sprite they'd been drinking, they still felt they had space for a sundae. There is a mouthwatering selection of desserts, from the overloadingly rich Brownies or chocolate chip cookies and icecream desserts to tiramisu and a refreshingly light lemon meringue roulade. It was all there...we ummed and we ahhhed, and finally chose the East-Coast sundae which consisted of toffee and chocolate ice-cream, chocolate sauce, chocolate pieces, chocolate malt balls and mini marshmallows....yum! 2 of those between the 4 of us was a perfect end to a wonderful meal.
As we sat waiting for the bill and enjoying feeling well-fed and watered, the boys decided they needed the loo. A few minutes later thay were back and wrestling with Italian pronunciation - useful words such as "fifth floor" and " bread-roll" were rolling from their lips. Believe it or not, they have language-teaching tapes running in the loos! After rather more visits than were strictly required from natural causes, we were all giggling hysterically, especially after my youngest proudly pronounced a couple of very impressive Italian words and after we'd failed to guess his meaning, proudly said "corned beef".
The whole meal for 4 of us cost £54 including a 10% gratuity, and we came away knowing some Italian as well as having had a wonderful evening out. I thoroughly recommend F&B's and will be going there a
gain if any more extra cash comes my way!
* The F&B's we visited was at The Point in Bracknell.