Thursday, 31 May 2012

Frankie & Benny's, Kirkstall

Frankie and Benny’s asked me to try out their new menus quite some time ago, but with moving house and generally being stressed up to the eyes, I didn’t get a chance to pay them a visit until last Sunday. We went to the one in Kirkstall, with a loose plan to see a film at the same time. Sadly the cinema listings lived up to my claim that “Most films are now crap” and so we just went for lunch instead.

I am glad we had time to linger over a three course lunch, however, as we were pleasantly surprised. It’s not that we were expecting anything bad, rather that I often have pre-conceptions about chain restaurants, especially the ones that pop up at those out of town cinema-parks. You know the sort of thing – lots of children and deep fried food. I am pleased to say that we were wrong on both counts.

Having said that, there was a children’s party going on when we walked in. But when the waiter who greeted us asked where we wanted to sit, A took the initiative and said “Not near them!” Now that may seem rude to some, but the waiter laughed and took us to a quiet table near the kitchen, well away from the kids’ party.

Crab cake

I had a look at the new lunch menu, which was £8.25 for 2 courses, £9.25 for 3, which seemed like brilliant value. But it was available Mon-Fri only, so we focused our attention on the main menu. For starter, I went for the “Lighter Option” Crab Cake. This came on a bed of rocket with a tomato chilli sauce. It was packed with flavour, particularly considering it was from the low calorie section.

A had the Calamari, which can be a risk. Not the frozen ring style calamari here, though. Instead, they came freshly cooked and even with some tentacles, just as A likes them. These were served with a Neopolitan dip, which is also tomato based. I would have preferred a mayonnaise, or tartare dip, but that’s just my personal preference.

For main, I ordered the cheeseburger. I just fancied something plain and simple, and I have to say, they do a great burger! Served with some crispy fries, it was just right.

A ordered BBQ chicken and ribs, which came with corn on the cob, coleslaw and fries. All good, he reported. A real meat-fest on a plate!

We decided to go mad and have a pudding. I chose the caramel pecan cheesecake, which came with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. The cheesecake was fantastic, although I prefer cream rather than ice cream to go with it.


3 scoops!

A had 3 scoops of ice cream. They need to invest in peanut butter ice cream, in his opinion, as he still has dreams about it since that dessert in Lindeth Howe.

On the whole, I would say we had a good Frankie and Benny’s experience. Again, my preconceptions about it being a chain were banished. It was a better meal than I have had at some so-called “authentic” Italians. It is definitely a family-friendly restaurant, so people can take their kids out for lunch, but it is big enough that you can be seated in a quieter spot if you prefer (as we did!). The decor is very American-Italian, with Frank Sinatra crooning in the background. In fact, F&Bs reminded me of some of the American restaurants we have visited in Vegas, which do huge menus with good value and quality food. I may have a try of their breakfast next time.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The White Swan, Leeds city centre

We decided to meet up with friends at the White Swan last Saturday. We had to do some shopping in Leeds, and so did our friends, N and S. So after watching a protest march go by on Briggate, A and I wandered up the cobbled back alley and entered the latest Leeds Brewery pub.

The White Swan is attached to the City Varieties, and you can imagine stopping off there for a drink on the way to see a show. I love the Varieties, especially to see comedians (in fact, we are off to see Rich Hall there at the end of May!).

The bar had all the usual Leeds Brewery beers on hand-pull. As well as his favourite, Leeds Best, Al is enjoying Yorkshire Gold at the moment. It was the usual pinot grigio for me, and the White Swan does a nice one. The place was busy, as it always seems to be when I have dropped in recently. This time, however, we were determined to try some food from the clipboard menu at the bar.

The menu has the usual sandwiches, burgers and a range of traditional dishes, very similar to the Midnight Bell. I ordered Moules Frites, which appears on the menu but also on the specials board, as they have a different sauce every day. On Saturday, it was cider, bacon and onion and it was great. The chips were homemade and just right for dipping.

A had the burger with cheese and bacon. We had seen these being delivered to other diners, and I am not exaggerating when I say they are massive! As well as the chosen toppings, two huge onion rings bulked the burger out to be bigger than a Big Mac (A still managed to get it in his mouth, though!)

I don’t know what the White Swan was like before but under the Leeds Brewery umbrella it is light and airy with a great menu and a good selection of drinks. We will be visiting again soon.