I love the whole Americana and film nostalgia that covers the walls and the theme makes it feel almost like a 50's style diner. What I don't like is the birthday announcements what feels like every 5 minutes. The restaurant dims and a birthday song is played whilst the staff bring out a cake which is great but I did feel it is rather annoying after the first one or two. Must be a favourite birthday meal venue!
We went to Frankie & Bennys as a group of seven and although we did pre-book our table the restaurant was well able to cater for us with a good selection of round tables with round seating to sit large groups or smaller tables for a more intimate meal.
We were offered a choice of two menus, the standard main menu and a specials menu to have a look at whilst we were brought our ordered drinks. As we happened to visit when there was a 'kids eat free' promotion on this did mean we had to eat from the main menu to be able to take advantage of the offer. Two adults chose from the main menu (so two children ate free) and two of us from the specials so we were able to get a good selection of different menu choices.
The staff were friendly and Little Man was kept occupied with a balloon and a kids activity book and pencils - so helpful when you are dining with little ones.
The two starters we ordered were from the specials menu - Warm Dough Sticks and Dips. We decided on the Garlic Butter and the Pepper Jack Cheese dips. When these arrived there were lovely and warm but not very appetising sadly. The Garlic Butter was fine but the Pepper Jack Cheese was awful.
The cheese dip arrived looking like it had been tipped out or into the dish as it was smeared up the one side and after a short time on the table looked far from pleasant. It tasted like microwaved vegan cheese with an overpowering after taste that was enough after 2 mouthfuls to make me share my friends garlic butter instead. Even my drink could not get rid of the aftertaste of the cheese dip. I did not complain about the dip as I wanted to experience what the quality of the meal was like as a whole.
Once the main meals arrived I felt more confident in the food. I rarely eat chicken but as I wanted to try something new from the latest menu I decided upon the Philly Chicken & Bacon Wrap, whilst the other adults ordered the Double Philly Stack Burger, New Yorker Burger and the Hawaiian pizza.
The children chose from the junior menu and I have to say the offer of their meals free was very impressive although this is not always available so check at the time for any offers or promotions, saving over £8 per meal (they chose a meal deal option which included a drink and desert) I LOVE the fact that Frankie & Bennys have also included smaller children in the dining out experience by offering organic baby food. Little Man is vegetarian so we opted for the organic Rosy Posy Pasta.
The Double Philly Stack burger, New Yorker and the pizza as well as the Philly Chicken & Bacon wrap all arrived in a good time, were a good temperature and looked delicious. My friends all really enjoyed their meals but I was really disappointed in the chicken wrap. It wasn't the chicken or the bacon that was the issue but once again all flavours were totally overpowered by the gooey Philly cheese. Although it was called Philly cheese unlike the pepper jack cheese with the dough sticks it tasted exactly the same!
By the end of the first wrap I couldn't stand the taste of the cheese anymore and left the rest which I hate to do especially when eating out.
The childrens meals were average in both serving size and in quality except the Rosy Posy Pasta which was perfect for Little Man and he wolfed the lot! The childrens deserts were excellent.
I was the only adult that tried a desert (the others were too full from their meals - lightweights!) and I opted for the Hot Chocolate Waffle. The waffle was a little dry but I loved the cinnamon taste to it and it went well with the ice-cream.
So in a summary.... cheese in any form on wraps or as a dip is a no for me. The burgers were lovely and very filling and the childrens meals so so. Little Mans pasta was a big plus even though the restaurant offered a metal teaspoon for him to eat it with (I always carry a plastic baby spoon thankfully)
The vegetarian range on offer is poor and if you just don't like beef or chicken you are a little out of luck as well sadly as that is the main bulk of any of the menus.
The atmosphere was good apart from the constant birthday announcements and the staff attentive, and at times to the point of annoying but I would rather this than being ignored as in the case in so many large food chains.
I will not be rushing to visit Frankie & Bennys again due to the quality of the meals but I have to say that with the free childrens meals offer the bill came to just under £60 for all 7 of us so I may be swayed from a financial point of view in the future (or another new menu without all that cheese)
We were given a £50 voucher in order to sample the new menu and I paid the difference in the bill total. This in no way influenced my thoughts or opinions on the meal we ate. Disclosure.