18 February 2008
Frankie & Benny’s
Surrey Quays Leisure Park
020 7064 9810
Frankly, Frankie's food is fit for a family feed-up
WHILST IT is definitely a terrible cliché, there is an awful lot to be said for the old adage of 'horses for courses'.
Although this - quite obviously - doesn't refer to your ability to ride a Shetland Pony around the Grand National track it can certainly be useful to a restaurant reviewer who is keen to review a place on its own terms.
Recently these pages have featured write ups of places such as La Cave in the Borough and Cantina del Ponte on Shad Thames. Both of these places are high end restaurants, full of educated cuisine and fine wines. Frankie and Benny's is none of these things - but to judge it because of this would be to badly miss the point of this great little restaurant, to feed bowlers, cinema goers and families unpretentious Italian American food.
Going down on a Monday night it would have been totally forgivable if the place had been relatively empty, but not a bit of it. Within five minutes of us entering the place (we reviewed as a trio to get a more realistic idea of what a family price tag would be), the music had been turned up, the lights dimmed and a round of Happy Birthday had been sung. Not what you would see on Shad Thames perhaps, but just the sort of thing a family driven place should thrive on.
With three hungry mouths to feed around the table we opted to start with the 'Sampler Platter' (£11.25). As far as starters go, this ticked all the right boxes, with two different kinds of chicken, loaded potato skins, spicy onion rings, garlic bread, bread sticks and good dips.
In an attempt to try to traverse the menu with just three people we opted for both Italian and American main courses.
In the European camp there was the Calzone al Pollo (£7.95) a folded pizza full of chicken, mushrooms, onions and a slightly runny tomato sauce. It wasn't the greatest ever seen but certainly did the job and wasn't by any means bad. For some reason, the stomach on legs that ordered this also decided to order a baked potato with cheese, sour cream and bacon (£2.95). This was also tasty but potentially a bit much on top of an already carbtastic pizza.
At the plate for the American side of Frankie and Benny's was the full rack of BBQ Ribs (£12.45). Again, this is unlikely to win many culinary awards but the meat was well swathed in the evocatively coloured smoky sauce and the chips accompanying it fine and crispy.
To try to straddle the two worlds the final main course was Sirloin Steak with Garlic Tiger Prawns (£14.25). The request for medium rare was well met and whilst the prawns were a little rubbery, the mashed potato was so good the whole meal was well enjoyed.
Before leaving, we decided it would be churlish to go to Frankie and Benny's and ignore the fantastic selection of ice cream based desserts. An East Coast Sundae and a Warm Brownie Sundae (£3.95 each) were duly produced alongside a 'World Famous' carrot cake (£4.95). All three would probably have had dieticians coming out in spots, but again - that's not really the point of Frankie and Benny's - the ice cream and cake tasted great.
Frankie and Benny's is not the only place that serves this kind of food around Rotherhithe - it has two tough contenders very close by - but if you fancy a family night out with simple, tasty food and a relaxed and chatty atmosphere then you really can't go very far wrong.
Gordon Ramsay it ain't - but if everything was as complicated as the food produced by Britain's national swear pot it would be a pretty boring country.
Magners (330ml) x 4 £12.20
Diet Coke x 3 £8.85
Sampler Platter £11.25
Calzone al Pollo £7.95
Fully Loaded Jacket £2.95
Full Rack of BBQ Ribs £12.45
Sirloin Steak with Garlic Tiger Prawns £14.25
East Coast Sundae £3.95
Warm Brownie Sundae £3.95
World Famous Carrot Cake £4.95
FOOD (1-5) 3,5
AMBIENCE (1-5) 4
PRICE VALUE (1-5) 3,5
DISABLED ACCESS YES
DISABLED TOILET YES
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