Mamma’s Classics at Frankie and Benny’s, Blackpool

When it comes to a great meal that is suitable when the kids are present, Frankie and Benny’s is always a good choice. The menu is wide ranging enough to suit all tastes, and children are catered for and made very welcome. On Saturday we were in Blackpool and went along to the Blackpool branch of the restaurant, which is situated just a short walk from the town centre on Festival Park. There we were well looked after by the manager Dan, and our waiter Lee, and enjoyed savouring some of the delights from the current menu.

When we entered the Blackpool branch, we were impressed with how each table was dressed. Our table had crayons and stickers for Joe, which certainly kept him occupied once food had been ordered. Joe knew exactly what he wanted for his main meal – he’s a big fan of the chicken bites and wanted chips with it. We decided to try a couple of the starters first. Pete opted for Caprese Salad, and myself and Joe decided to share a classic garlic pizza bread.

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The Caprese salad is slightly different that the traditional version with large slices of tomato and mozzarella.  This one is fresh mozzarella, torn and mixed with the smaller cherry tomatoes with added basil, rocket, salsa verde and olive oil. It is also served with freshly baked rosemary bread. The portion size is good and all the elements were really tasty. It’s ultimately a salad – it does what it says on the tin, but this is a particularly good one where the elements work really well together.

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

The garlic pizza bread is perfect for sharing. The bread is nice and lightly toasted with plenty of buttery garlic making it soft and juicy. I shared this with Joe and it certainly got the thumbs up from my boy – I just about managed to grab a couple of slices!

Garlic Pizza Bread

Garlic Pizza Bread

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For our mains, myself and Peter had opted for the traditional Italian American dishes of the Mamma’s classics menu. My husband Pete is Italian, so these are the sorts of dishes he grew up with. This makes him a fairly critical judge when it comes to pasta – is it made like Papa used to make it? Peter opted for the F&B Meatballs, a classic dish comprising of spaghetti with juicy meatballs, bolognese and Neapolitan sauce,salsa rossa, fresh basil, torn mozzarella and served with a bread stick. Now, Pete has had this dish in the past, and although it has been enjoyed, a couple of complaints have always been made. The first is that the pasta has been overcooked, the second is that the dish just isn’t big enough. I’m pleased to say Frankie and Benny’s Blackpool had no complaints. The pasta was perfectly cooked, and with the delicious meatballs it made for a hearty, rustic style dish, In terms of portion size, this dish now comes in a large bowl, rather than a plate, making this a great portion size – in fact, Pete struggled to finish it.

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I also chose a pasta dish. I’m not a fan of tomato based dishes, so I love the fact that Frankie and Benny’s have other options. I went for one of the Al Forno bakes, which are pasta bakes that remain in the oven until they are bubbling. I love Cajun spices so chose the Cajun Chicken Bake, which is Chicken, rigatoni pasta, roasted red peppers and red onion, in a creamy Cajun cheese sauce, topped with Grana Padano and a crunchy cheese crumb. Again, this is a dish that has grown in size, and I was really impressed with how much chicken it contained. The Cajun sauce has a really creamy flavour, with that slight undercurrent of heat from the cajun spices. I also loved the edition of red onion and red peppers which added additional, but complimentary flavours to the dish.

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We chose two side orders, crunchy homemade slaw and Golden Fries. The homemade slaw was amazing, really chunky cuts of cabbage and carrot in a creamy dressing. It was another portion size that was made for sharing and with the golden fries it made the perfect lunchtime meal.

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Joe enjoyed his lunch too, but couldn’t leave without trying out the Sweetie Shop, a child’s feast of sweets, ice cream and pouring sauce. We had great fun with the popping candy too.

Sweetie shop

Sweetie shop

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Frankie and Benny’s Blackpool is a great alternative to fish and chips when you are visiting the seaside. We were well looked after by the friendly staff, especially our waiter Lee, and thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of our lunch.

 

*We were provided with a £50 voucher for our food in return for a honest review.

Frankie and Benny’s great new kids menu

On Sunday, my family and I were invited along to Frankie and Benny’s at The Fort Shopping Centre in order to review their latest children’s menu. As a family, we are already big fans of the Italian/American restaurant, finding them to be very family friendly with a great extensive menu, but I had never been to The Fort branch before. Needless to say, we had a wonderful time.

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Joe and dad.

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Enjoying my Amalfi Sunrise

The children’s menu has been extended, with new options that include ‘build a burger’ and ‘wrap it up chicken’ options.  The children’s menu is good in that it is divided into two separate sections, ‘kids’ and ‘juniors’ so that it caters for both younger and older children. Joe, at 6, still chooses from the younger version, but I like the idea that slightly older children can still eat at the reduced cost (£7.75), rather than having to choose from the adult menu.

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DSCN6942[1]We began with drinks and starters. Joe chose the ice cream milkshake in chocolate. It was very creamy and tasty (I know – I couldn’t resist trying it myself) and I liked that it was served in a plastic beaker rather than a glass. It was lunchtime so I resisted the alcohol and opted instead for a ‘mocktail’. The Amalfi Sunrise was beautifully refreshing, a mixture of mango, orange and lemon with a splash of grenadine and lots of ice. The mango came through strongly and was just delicious.

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I chose a starter that I knew Joe would enjoy too. This was the garlic dough balls from the specials menu. This is a bowl full of tasty garlic dough balls served with a pot of garlic and parsley dip on the side. It was a very decent sized helping of dough balls that were cooked perfectly (I have had these in the past when they have been rather burnt.). I think that a little extra garlic butter would be good, but other than that, this was fine and Joe enjoyed them too.

DSCN6951[1]Pete chose the Meatballs Italiano as his starter. This is an impressive dish with two large pork and beef meatballs covered in a delicious tomato, chilli and onion sauce. The meatballs are generous in size (about the size of a faggot) and serving them with ciabatta means that the lovely sauce can be mopped up too – no waste in this dish!

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For our main meals we again looked to the specials menu (2 courses for £11.95 Sunday to Friday – menu here.) I chose a vegetarian option of Pasta Verde, and this was a lovely, big, rustic plate of food. It usually contains peas, but they happen to be one of my idea of food hell so I asked for them to be left out of my dish. I was really impressed when I was offered different options, and added onions instead. I really enjoyed what was a filling, substantial meal, and think this could also be a great option if served with chicken too. Pete tried the Pulled Pork pizza. Again this is a good sized dish, but due to the dry nature of the pork it may be better served with an accompaniment – barbecue dipping sauce maybe?

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Joe chose to have the cheeseburger meal with chips and beans. I was impressed with how tasty the children’s options were, and the portion size was just right – in fact, Joe couldn’t quite finish – especially as he was leaving room for a new dessert he had spotted on the menu and was super excited about…

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The dessert had quite frankly got me excited too. The Ice Cream candy shop consists of 2 scoops of ice cream and glass milk bottles of sweets, all served with a jug of chocolate sauce to pour. It comes on its own tray, and there is an old-fashioned paper bag to take home any sweets left over (as if!). There was also a packet of popping candy which caused sheer delight for Joe (and his dad). For just £1.95 this is an absolute bargain – a perfect dessert which is worth popping in for even if you don’t want a complete meal. It is Willie Wonka’s perfect pudding and Joe thought it was pretty near perfect too.

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We had a lovely time at Frankie and Benny’s. The service was friendly and attentive, and the food was affordable and tasty. We will definitely be dropping by again soon – for Sweetie shop desserts of course!

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*We were invited to sample the menus as part of the Fort Bloggers programme.