Frankie and Benny’s
Last night Helen and I had dinner with our good friends Nicola and Stuart at Frankie and Benny’s New York Italian Restaurant and Bar. I’d never been to the place before and was immediately impressed by the décor: a decent simulation of a New York bar, the usual artefacts adorning the walls and a nice long bar that you can sit at. It’s always strange when you visit one of these ‘theme bars’ in Milton Keynes as the juxtaposition between the real and the fake is made even more blindingly obvious. Frankie and Benny’s is situated in the Snowdome, itself a metallic box that houses a real snow ski-slope, bowling alley and various food halls and nightclubs. Visible for miles around The Snowdome is huge.
Only recently opened, Frankie and Benny’s was very busy. We had to wait twenty minutes for a table. Not too much of a problem as we got to sit at the bar watching some well trained bar tenders mix some cocktails. A vibrating pager wads thrust into our hands to notify us of a table becoming available. Very efficient indeed. As I say, only twenty minutes elapsed before the pager started buzzing and we were show to our table. We were seated at a table that seemed a little undersized for four people with drinks, let alone for people with food. Still it wasn’t too much of an issue because, when the starters arrived they were elevated on a sort of plinth so that there was room for our drinks beneath. Helen and I had a mixed platter of various vegetables, deep fried in breadcrumbs (Health kick wrecking #2), onion rings and chicken wings. Quite tasty but avoid the deep fried cucumber and broccoli – left a particularly nasty after taste in the mouth. Nicola had the calamari and Stuart had the loaded skins. All pleasant so far.
After a delay of at least forty minutes (I kid ye not) the main courses arrived. We werent to bothered by the extended delay as we were all quite full from the starters. The waitress was very apologetic and that was nice. The food arrived. I had a Sicilian Calzone – a pizza folded over and sealed (looks like a pasty). I was too engrossed with this feature to notice what anybody else was eating. Needless to say it was very tasty. The first major problem of the evening occurred when Stuart found that he had, in fact, got somebody else’s meal. On telling the waitress she said laughed uncomfortably. No apology, she walked off to tell the chef. And that was that. He was left with the wrong meal. Not wanting to be one to make a fuss, he started to eat it. Unfortunately he wasn’t too keen on what he’d ended up with so he collared the girl on her way round. “Can I have a salad or something to go with this?” he said. OK was her answer and she went and got him a salad. Stuart ate this, leaving much of his wrong meal uneaten.
Shortly a group of kids around 16 years of age came in and sat on the table next to us making loads of noise and laughing with their mate, the waitress, who had obviously asked them to drop by to brighten up her shift. We could clearly hear their conversation as it was practically being shouted. This was annoying. We couldn’t really enjoy the evening from then on. Nothing was done by any of the staff to quieten down the louts who werent actually eating anything in fact, their mate the waitress was positively encouraging them. So we asked for the bill. We decided to split it in half. The waitress decided that she would in fact split it in some completely random way. Instead of doing what we asked she said “well, it’s only a couple of quid here or there isn’t it?” Great, but we wanted to split the bill down the middle. No tip was left. We wont be visiting Frankie and Benny’s again. Well done.