Saturday 3 August 2013

Frankie & Benny’s, Harlow (and every other provincial town)

I honestly can’t remember the last time I visited a Frankie & Benny’s, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the current century. There’s a four letter word beginning with ‘s’ that seems to have been specifically invented to describe the food at Frankie & Benny’s, from what I can remember. Where we live there is a limited choice of restaurants within a short drive, and fewer still that are family-friendly. So, when Frankie & Benny’s opened in my home town a few months back I made a mental note to give it another go, through a fathers lens.

We had an early lunch one Saturday a few weeks ago. I had the chicken parmigiana…

A succulent chicken breast coated in garlic and herb breadcrumbs. Topped with ham, melted mozzarella and mamma’s Neapolitan sauce. Served on a bed of Neapolitan spaghetti with corn on the cob and your choice of house fries, salad or a jacket.

One of the most disappointing things I have eaten for a very long time. The chicken wasn’t succulent and it didn’t taste of garlic, the ham was straight out of a packet and the mozzarella was, I think, not mozzarella at all. But the worst thing about it was the Neapolitan sauce, which was entirely tasteless. An average Neapolitan sauce contains tomatoes, onions, basil, garlic and other herbs; I find it impossible to understand how these ingredients can be mixed together and be totally devoid of any real flavour. The food was bad and the service matched so I have to award this lunch both a TOTAL STINKER and SNAIL SERVICE.


Alex and Olivia both had the kids meal, chicken strips and spaghetti Bolognese respectively. The portions were generous and the quality of the food was above average, when compared to other kids options at other restaurants, and great value at £3.95 for a main course, drink and dessert. And the ‘fun pack’ was great too, well thought through and high in quality; it literally kept them entertained the whole time we were there.

So, it seems that four letter word is still appropriate when describing Frankie & Benny’s, which probably won’t be a surprise to you. But, if you have children, and you can tolerate tasteless food, take one for the team?


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