Frankie & Benny’s Edge Lane
The advantage of being a food blogger is occasionally, very occasionally in my case, a restaurant will offer you some form of free meal. I was rather surprised when a few weeks ago Frankie & Benny’s contacted me offering a £50 restaurant voucher in return for a written review, this very review in fact. Now, F&B’s is not the kind of place I would ever choose to eat, in fact I’ve never eaten at a F&B’s before, in any of their 180 nationwide franchises. I wrote back to F&B’s, stating quite clearly that I didn’t write favoured reviews, unlike our local papers; despite the free cost it would be an honest review of the food on offer. They were very happy with this, certain that their new menu would stand up to close inspection. A few days later the voucher arrived in the post and myself and a friend made our way to the rather derelict Edge Lane.
I remember when Edge Lane retail park was new and shiny, regular Saturdays as a child we’d go for a pizza at Deep Pan Pizza Co, and then on to the cinema for a film. Its current state rather dulls those childhood memories, half the park is empty and derelict, the other half’s shabby exterior seems to be following suit. The welcoming golden arches and F&B’s are the only two places left that at least look clean and inviting.
As we entered, we were seated quickly in a restaurant that was doing well to insulate us from the decaying surroundings of Edge Lane. Heavy venetian blinds, a warm pleasant atmosphere and friendly service made for a nice place to sit. The waitress, having spotted our meal voucher asked “which restaurant had we’d had a bad experience in”, was this was an omen of what was to come?
A quick review of the drinks menu and a couple of Sam Adams arrived, cold crisp pleasant beer that isn’t found in many places in Liverpool. This seemed like a good start, however, it was the high point of a meal which I was sincerely hoping would be better.
We all know what F&B’s is, a mass chain restaurant, where you can get the same food in any of its establishments at any time of year. However it’s not actually a restaurant, it doesn’t cook, there is little skill involved, it heats up what is pre-packaged and puts it on a plate. I was hoping for more; perhaps somewhere that would entertain children while at least serving half decent food to keep the parents happy, it doesn’t do this.
Starters of potato skins were drenched in oil and flavourless, at least our calamari was soft and tender if very over seasoned. Fish cakes, one of our mains, was bland and watery, with an unpleasant rock hard batter surrounding it, clearly straight from the deep freeze. A calzone was stuffed full of a horrible concoction of tomato sauce, cheap ham, chicken and pepperoni with far too much seasoning. The dough at least seemed fresh, I doubt they made it themselves, it was probably bought in, but at least in recent history it had actually been a paste of flour and water.
The food probably deserves no further attention in this review, bland, flavourless, pre-packaged pap, however this doesn’t relate to the side dishes. One portion of spicy onion rings and a serving of mixed vegetables, were so very different, they were disgusting. The vegetables, consisting of carrots and broccoli, straight from the freezer microwaved until the remaining substance bears no resemblance to the original vegetable they claim to be. The onion rings received one bite each before being pushed to the side, it’s almost worth visiting to see how bad some vegetables and onion rings can be.
The food was bad, but that’s not the real issue, this meal cost £60 for two people; we only drank 2 beers and a coke. Three courses and few drinks for £60, I could make a list, a very long list, of places in Liverpool where less money could get two people a meal immeasurably better than what we had, including the McDonalds over the road. I will not be returning.