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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Review: Frankie & Benny's, 4 October 2008

Frankie & Bennys

New York Italian Restaurant and Bar
Ozone Leisure Park, Oxford OX4 4XP

So last weekend Gerry and I took the boys out tenpin bowling, and we decided we'd stop for a spot of lunch beforehand.

We're trying to avoid the usual haunts of McDonalds and Burger King, and take the boys to places they may not have been before, so for a combination of convenience and speed decided to use Frankie & Benny's - after all, it's right next to the bowling alley!

In all honesty, we wouldn't use it for any other reason.

In style, look, decor and even menu, Frankie & Benny's feels like the poor Italian-American cousin of TFI Friday. And let's face it, even that's not saying much.

We didn't bother with starters, instead choosing to share some garlic & tomato bread - a simple pizza base that is almost impossible to mess up, and so it proved on this occasion.

The boys both had pasta dishes from the kids' menu, Gerry went for Chicken Penne Romana, and I plumped for the Manhattan burger.

The food was - alright. Average. Filling without being satisfying. My burger, for example, was large and well-topped, yet the meat was a touch overcooked and despite the amount, the cheese was strangely tasteless. The pasta dishes for the boys were bland and the portions too large, especially for a three-year-old. Our youngest's spaghetti bolognese was a pretty daunting size, even to my gluttonous eyes!

Another small niggle I have - and this is aimed at ALL restaurants which have a children's menu - why do you not have smaller cutlery for children? What's the point in having a small portion, if the knife and fork are too large for small hands? A teaspoon, while a nice offer from a helpful waiter, ain't much use for spaghetti really, is it?

that said, in their defence they offered a well-stocked goodie bag to each of the kids, who also left with a balloon.

Service was attentive throughout, except when it came to paying the bill. I was kept waiting far too long while the waiter chattered with a colleague, and the longer we waited the more fractious the kids became.

Overall, F&B's offered distinctly average food and an equally average experience, not quite managing to be good in any area, while avoiding complete awfulness. Pricing as well was distinctly average, coming out at £38 including service.

In all, then, Frankie & Benny's is a place I'd avoid. Mediocrity is never something I enjoy where my stomach's concerned, and sadly mediocrity seems to be all that F&B can manage.

(This review is also published on Dungeekin's Eatings and on Qype).

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