A Restaurant Review You Didn’t Know You Needed: Frankie & Benny’s
When asked to try their new burger, I couldn’t remember the last time that I had been to a Frankie and Benny’s. However, I’m sure I’m not alone in remembering a time in my life when Frankie and Benny’s played quite a crucial role. It once represented an exciting mixture of birthdays, spaghetti, and ice cream and taught me the magic of what it means to sit down and enjoy the ritual of eating in a restaurant. For better or for worse, having grown up a bit since last frequenting one of their eateries, I was worried that the hero of my childhood wouldn’t be what I remembered it to be.
It was with these thoughts that my housemates and I set off to their closest restaurant, which is in the White Rose Shopping Centre, south of Elland Road. The restaurant was surprisingly busy, given it was raining and a Monday, and we were warmly welcomed and seated in a leather cushioned booth that could have been lifted from the set of Reservoir Dogs.
With My Girl by The Temptations playing at an appropriate volume, we kicked things off with the cheesy garlic bread, a dish which is admittedly hard to get wrong – and it wasn’t. Dough, garlic butter (synthetic in a nice way), grated mozzarella; after spending all day in a prep kitchen, I was very content with this.
Next, the purpose of my visit: the double bacon cheeseburger. The burger wasn’t bad, but it isn’t what I’d call inspired. The bun was springy, and the beef was nicely cooked, well-coloured and juicy, with nice smoky bacon and melted cheese. Overall, the burger was on the dry side and in serious need of a decent burger sauce.
In some background information sent to The Gryphon, it is claimed that the executive chef, Ben (“no relation to Benny”), spent six months developing this burger, and I do have to question how effectively he spent this time. With the standard cheeseburger costing £13.10 and the double bacon cheeseburger coming in at £17.50, I don’t think I can in good conscience recommend that anyone goes out of their way to taste this particular item. I don’t believe this is headline news: the food at Frankie and Benny’s will not change your life. However, I finished the burger, and the staff were absolutely lovely.
After our plates were cleared, I was on my way to the toilets when something caught my eye. The framed photos of New York City outside the toilets must be the same images used since the restaurant’s opening: like a smell unlocking a previously hidden memory, they transported me to the time in my life when this restaurant was a beacon of civilisation, representing a metropolitan world that lay out of reach – a world alien to mine of school bells, book bags and PE.
So, I left Frankie and Benny’s feeling nostalgic and secure, reminded of a simpler time: I was a bit surprised to find it was me who was driving home.