Review: Frankie & Benny’s, Boldon Leisure Park, Boldon Colliery

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FOR pre-cinema dining, Frankie & Benny’s is an obvious choice.

Not only is it right on the doorstep of Cineworld, it’s always guaranteed to have a cheap and cheerful menu.

This visit, however, was not a resounding success.

With our film choice being shown at 8.40pm, we’d arrived at 7pm to give ourselves plenty of time between scoffing and viewing.

Though the place was busy, it was by no means full. We were told there would be a wait for a table for two and were directed to the bar.

A leisurely glass of wine and 45 minutes later, we still hadn’t been seated. They appear to have some kind of buzzer system in place now, whereby a contraption you’re handed at the door buzzes when it’s your turn to be seated.

Ours didn’t buzz and we were only seated once I’d complained to the waiter.

No apology was made for the delay once we eventually took our pew.

Swift service was obviously not on the agenda this particular Sunday evening and it also took us a while to have our order taken.

The menu managed to redeem the experience. Though it’s the same as all the others in the chain, it always manages to hit the spot with its mix of American and Italian-inspired dishes.

I particularly liked the addition of a lighter options section for those watching their waistlines or after a lighter meal.

For those who laugh in the face of diets, there’s a host of calorie-laden goodies on offer such as the crispy chicken Philly burger (£10.45); meatballs on spaghetti (£9.95); chicken carbonara deep-filled calzone (£10.45) and many more pizzas, burgers, pastas, steaks and bakes.

I went with the grilled chicken sandwich (£10.45). Though it’s billed as a sandwich, it’s huge and I was presented with a generous portion of grilled chicken on a bun with extra salad instead of fries.

It’s a standard dish which is difficult to get wrong, but it did the trick.

My date chose from the lighter options menu and had the chargrilled steak salad (£10.95).

It included a 7oz steak which was cooked to perfection.

Though we’d ordered drinks with our meal, they didn’t arrive until after we finished.

Despite the tardiness of the staff, our satisfied tummies made the film with moments to spare, but I won’t be relying on them for speedy dining in the future.