I do not consider myself to be an Italian food expert but having a wide group of friends who hail from the mainland of Italy and its beautiful island, Sicily, so I have had the pleasure of tasting the most gorgeous food from this region. Furthermore, I have been to the odd Italian restaurant in London which has received the seal of approval from bonafide Italians.
It is because of this that I do not consider Frankie and Benny’s to be Italian. You add the word “New York” to it and it still doesn’t give it any authenticity. Yes, Italians went to New York, yes they wanted to make their mark, but what you have here is a very watered down and diluted offering. Yes there is pizza and yes there is pasta, but again, I am sure that any self respecting Italian would be offended at this attempt to honour their food heritage.
Regardless of what they class themselves as being, it was a mediocre experience. I guess when you go to a shopping centre in Romford, you are putting yourself in a position where you are looking at limited options for good food. Nandos would have been better! Traipse a little further and Brickyard most definitely would hit the spot, but here we were, challenged for time before a cinema visit.
The pluses in this venue is that it is very kid friendly, so bring on the family outings. The staff are decent. The service is quick. The negative is that the food is nothing to set the world on fire. It is a chain after all and we all know how I feel about them. Why can’t they get it right. I bet the very first one that opened ticked all of the boxes but then roll out the brand, bring on franchises and what was once a winning formula dilutes beyond recognition.
Anyway, that argument is for another day, for now, let’s talk about the food. Mushrooms with garlic and cheese as a start for me. I could not taste the cheese, the mushroom was smothered with it, but it tasted of nothing. Calamari for Jay and talk about a rationed portion. Putting it in a flash little metal pot does not make up for the stinginess. For mains, I had the steak. Ticked box for serving the meat exactly as I ordered it, but fail for the near uncooked and cold chips you partnered it with. Steak could have been seasoned a little more.
Jay had pizza. Now this is somewhere they should excel. In his opinion it was ok, in my opinion it was a case of let me see the Dr Oetker box. It didn’t appear fresh and I am against sage on pizzas. Sorry, it is wrong.
Their own brand wine, Sauvignon Blanc, was excellent. I don’t consider myself to be a wine expert either, but I wanted dry and light. This was easy drinking loveliness. Not too shabby on the price either.
This was not an expensive experience, but it was not a foodie experience I want to repeat. I get how it works for families and children as we witnessed the staff bring a birthday cake with candles to a beaming child, singing “happy birthday”. That was sweet.
Maybe other branches are better, I guess I will never know.
Frankie & Benny’s
2 The Brewery
T. 01708 724 102