Having the week off work over Easter gave me the best opportunity to go and sample the new menus over at our local Frankie & Benny's restaurant (voucher supplied, see disclaimer below). We've never eaten in Frankie & Benny's before so thought we would try the lunch menu (available Monday to Friday, 11am - 5pm).
The Blackburn restaurant is just outside the town centre but ample parking is available at the ice arena or the shopping area behind the restaurant. I rang beforehand and was told that we wouldn't need to book a table. I was even called "Madam" on the phone!! We turned up around 3.30pm and the restaurant was quiet, with around 20 or so diners already eating. We were shown to a table immediately on arrival and provided with menus. Our waitress answered all our questions about the starters and main courses, advising us with recommendations. The lunch menu has 1-course, 2-course and 3-course options (different prices) and a 2-course order was taken so that we could order desert if we still had room at the end!
Starters that we chose were:
Jake: Doughballs (with garlic and cheese dips)
Michael: Soup of the Day (vegetable)
Kev: Garlic and Cheese Mushrooms
Me: Amazing Skins (BBQ Chicken flavour)
The soup was piping hot and took a while to cool down before Michael could eat it whereas my skins and Kev's mushrooms were just warm. Jake's doughballs were about the right temperature and he certainly got the best deal. There were about 16 doughballs in the serving and I would suggest that this starter may be enough for two people. Kev was a little bit disappointed with his mushrooms but we're on the hunt for a replacement of some amazing stuffed mushrooms from a take-away where we used to live and nothing has come close in the last 8 years so this is not the fault of F&B's. My skins were just the right portion size and really tasty.
The main courses that we chose were:
Jake: BBQ Chicken Pizza
Michael: Hawaiian Pizza
Kev: Penne Meatballs
Me: Cajun Mayo Burger
The boy's pizzas were traditionally thin crust and they both said that they were amazing. Kev really surprised us all by choosing a pasta dish because he doesn't usually order pasta or spaghetti but he said he fancied choosing something different for a change. He wasn't disappointed either. The portion size looks a little meager to start with but the three meatballs are enormous and it comes with a side order of chips or salad too. My burger was cooked to perfection (I'm always a little worried how thick burgers are going to turn out) and there was enough for me without the chips. It all got a bit "Man versus Food" at one point because we were all struggling to finish our mains but they were so delicious that we didn't want to leave any.
We had opted for the "unlimited drink refills" at the beginning of the meal and our waitress kept us topped up with our drink choices (you can choose between Coke, Diet Coke, Fanta and Lemonade) with fresh glasses each time, not minding that we weren't all drinking at the same speed.
After our main course we noticed that the restaurant had filled up slightly and that there had been a staff /shift change. Because of this, we were left with plates on our table for a bit longer than necessary as one waitress was dealing with a large party in the center of the restaurant and another was on the other side of the restaurant. In a way we were glad of the rest - our food could settle ready for dessert - but I still feel as though we waited a tad too long. In the end the manager came out and cleared our table, someone else then took our dessert order, then we were asked (again) if we'd ordered desserts by the manager and it took a while to get our final drinks refill.
The desserts that we chose were:
Jake: Aunt Carla's Real Dairy Ice Cream (a scoop each of Chocolate, Toffee and Mint Choc Chip)
Michael: Aunt Carla's Real Dairy Ice Cream (three scoops of Mint Choc Chip)
Kev: Mama's Hot Crumble (Apple and Rhubarb) with custard
Me: Cinnamon Waffle Crunch
Again, the quality of the food was top notch and the servings were a good size. By this time the boys were getting a bit bored of my "DON'T EAT YET... I NEED TO TAKE A PICTURE OF IT!" attitude, with Kev asking at one point, "What are you doing now, Nic?" and Michael responding with, "She's being all weird again..."
Overall impressions of the Frankie & Benny's restaurant in Blackburn are great. We really enjoyed our visit and I love that the kitchens are open hatches, even though we didn't wander over to have a nosy. The decor is reminicent of an Italian restaurant in America (if that makes sense) with appropriate, not overpowering, background music. I do think that the waitress hand-over could have been handled better as I'm not sure anyone was assigned to looking after us after the initial warm welcome from the first waitress but it didn't really detract from the visit.
I tried to use the free WiFi offered in the restaurant to check into Foursquare and tweet a quick picture but kept getting the message "Your connection is wonky. Try again." I tried again and the same happened so I gave up. The thing is, I don't really go to a restaurant to use a WiFi connection so I'm not sure it matters too much.
Our 3-course lunch menu cost £9.25 each and our unlimited drink refill cost £2.45 each for the first regular drink. Our total bill was £46.80 which we thought was a really reasonable price for four adult meals and about 11 drinks (yes, the boys tend to take advantage of what they consider to be 'freebies').
You can find out where your local restaurant is on the Frankie & Benny's website. They have four new menus available at the moment with different offers for different times of the day and/or week. We'll be going back again soon so maybe we'll see you there?
Disclaimer: I was provided with a voucher that covered the cost of our meal.
Please view my disclosure policy for more details