Frankie and Benny’s was a new one on me. I had a very vague notion of its existence, but had no real idea what style of place it was, until I was invited to join some of my work colleagues there for lunch, today.
I have a feeling this has something to do with the location of most of the Frankie and Benny’s restaurants. This is probably a shocking admission, but I don’t really like shopping. I need to clarify that. Aside from shopping for groceries, particularly vegetables, I don’t really like shopping.
I am a creature of the information age; a complete devotee of online shopping. When the internet let me down – it’s only ever happened once – and I had to try and find beach footwear for a trip to the Maldives, the attendant flitting between shops in search of the requisite items drove me to considerable distraction. So Frankie and Benny’s has never appeared on my radar, prior to now.
We stepped inside the Omni Centre branch, to be confronted by a busy place, full of satisfied looking diners. The stylings were a slightly cookie-cutter version of 50s Italian America. Joltin’ Joe featured heavily in our little corner of the place, with an array of photos and articles about the Yankee Clipper.
Service was accurate and fuss-free, and we were soon contemplating our starters. Glancing round the table, I was very happy with my choice. My soup (are you surprised) looked very good. It was of the white onion variety, which also sounded pretty good. I tasted it. It tasted extremely good.
My main course didn’t live up to these levels, sadly. I was intrigued by the notion of black and blue pasta, combining the charred pepperiness of Cajun chicken with blue cheese, but the dish just didn’t work for me.
All the sensations of the dish were loaded at the back-end, so as you chewed and searched for flavour, your taste buds were suddenly set upon by the twin assault of the char of the chicken and the tang of the cheese. I really like these flavours, separately, but together they clashed wildly. There’s definitely a good idea lurking in this dish, but it needs refinement to make it a more balanced sensation on the palette.
Overall, Frankie and Benny’s was pretty good. Their soup pleased me, muchly. Their pasta dish was less good, but their espresso ended things on a better note. For large group dining, it offers a perfectly pleasant experience, and dishes that are likely to make diners smile. I think that’s what they’re aiming for, so should be commended for accurately delivering it.
Blythe scores Frankie and Benny’s
3/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3/5 for service
3/5 for setting
giving an overall 12/20
I ate: white onion soup, black and blue pasta
I drank: sparkly water, espresso
I wore: optimal lunch questing gear