Sunday, 15 April 2012

Frankie & Benny's Review, Thanet

The Introduction

We were fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to visit our local Frankie & Benny's with a £50 voucher to try their new menu.  So I have left a review for you all.  I hope its to your taste.

The Frankie & Benny's we visited is only a few miles from home, at the Westwood Cross Shopping Centre in Thanet, Kent.  So after a quick run around a few shops, we headed to the restaurant for an early dinner.  Me, The Mrs, and The Boy (8 months) started dinner nice and early at only 5pm, to make sure The Boy gets back home for bed at a reasonable time.

The store is in a nice shopping centre and looks good.  The outside appearance is welcoming, has an outdoor eating area, and the classic Italian American themed music is played outside, setting the mood before you walk through the doors.  We were welcomed in by a young man, mid twenties.  He directed us to our tables and brought over a high chair.  His actions were very helpful, but his nature was somewhat depressing.  He couldn't force a smile, or invent any enthusiasm in his voice.  He sat us down, gave us the menus, and informed us he would be back soon for our drinks order (which presumably was to give him time to go and take his prozac).  The area we were sat in was nice and clean, spacious (we had a large corner sofa to ourselves).  On the table everything was nicely laid out.  However I couldn't help but notice there were 5 knives and no forks.  I assume this is a symbolic pun that the service would be choppy.

The Food

We ordered a little more than we normally would, as we had £50 to spend on 2 and a half mouths.  So we picked out the goats cheese and red onion garlic bread to nibble on whilst we picked out some starters and mains.  The pre-starter was quite delicious.  I guess its not easy to make anything with goats cheese on taste anything less than delicious.  But the garlic bread base was nicely cooked, and the whole thing, with a little help from a pot of soured cream, went down a treat.

For starter we had the chicken strips, which were tender and crispy and came with a tomato based dip, however the crispy seasoning was not quite to my taste.  And we also had the calamari, which for a chain restaurant was spot on.  Perfectly cooked so that it was not chewy at all, and again served with a delicious dip. The only thing I would have changed was that at the bottom of the bowl were a few larger pieces, which were a little on the fatty side.  All in all, 9/10 for the starters and pre-starter.

Fortunately we had a 2nd waiter that served us most of the rest of the meal.  He was refreshingly more like what you would expect.  Chatty, lively, had a little wit and charm; he was the polar opposite of the first waiter.

For main I had decided to go for steak.  Not what I would normally order, however as I was out to review the food, this seemed the more inventive option.  I asked for a recommendation for which steak to choose, and the waiter enthusiastically suggested the 16oz rump steak (so much so I could feel the jealously that I was to eat it, and not him).  The Mrs took the New York Chicken (chicken breast topped with bacon and BBQ sauce).  Both meals we had chips on the side.  As an extra I took some onion rings.

I asked for my steak to be medium rare, and it came out medium rare.  One chunky delicious looking medium rare steak.  The steak itself was delicious.  Very succulent and cooked very well.  It turns out that after eating a starter and a half, that a 16oz steak is a little large to finish off.  But I gave it my best and got pretty close.  The chips as a result didn't really get a look in.  The plate finished with the greenery still in its original state, the chips half gone, and the steak regrettably not finished.  The chips themselves were nice, nice and crispy, but a little on the thin side for me.  Chips should be chunky.  They should also be fried more than once.

Of course I didn't eat the New York Chicken, although I must admit it did look good, and The Mrs seemed more than happy with it.

The Boy had sausage mash and beans from the children's menu.  It was service with a bowl of carrot and broccoli.  It went down very well.  Down his bib, down to the floor, down most things really.  He ate the amount you'd expect an oversized 8 month old to eat.  The amount we picked up from the floor was probably another meal or 2's worth.

Although I ate the rump steak to the point where I could eat no more, there's always room for desert.  I took one of the new items from the desert menu being the East Side Sundae.  It was really the only choice on the menu.  There may be many many delicious things to suit all kinds of people, however the option that contains marshmallow pieces mixed with ice cream and various chocolate bits is the only things that my eyes could see.  It's not difficult to imagine that on a full stomach a whole desert might be hard to finish.  Not this one.  It went down a treat, and in record speed.  OK, so I have a sweet tooth.  Desert is always a winner!

Perhaps the extravagant ordering went a little too far.  Having never exceeded £50 on a meal out for 2.5 before (holidays excluded), I was a little proud to have brought the bill up to a belly filling £77.  With the tip (for the good waiter we were all too happy to swap to) we left £35 down.  The £50 VIP voucher got us a big smile and hello from the manager at the end of the meal.

So all in all I must say that I was very happy with the whole experience.  Frankie and Benny's is certainly somewhere we have eaten at more than once.  But having the voucher and going there with the intention to review the food, we did order food we don't order often (or ever, in my case) from here before.

The Service - 9/10 (would have been lower but I have blocked all memory of the first depressing mumbling waiter)

The Food - 9/10

To check out what the Mrs thought... check out her review

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