A Coeliacs Review Of Frankie & Benny’s
The good times were definitely not ‘shared together!’
As a recently diagnosed Coeliac sufferer, I have been really struggling with trying to find places to eat out with my partner.
I also feel a bit guilty making him eat gluten-free items, just because I can’t eat ‘normal’ food anymore.
I have been heavily relying on using the app provided by Coeliac UK, which has a handy “navigation guide” of places local to me that I can eat at!
So today, for the first time, I have come with my partner for date day, to Frankie & Benny’s!
I have always loved Italian style food, so I was really excited to find a gluten free accredited place that serves my favourite ever food, PASTA!
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.
When we got to the restaurant we were seated in a two-seater area. I had seen a sign on the reception area advising diners to tell their server of any allergies, so I told our waitress I had Coeliac disease. I was given the gluten-free menu.
Yay a whole menu for me to choose from!
So far, so good I thought to myself. Now the hard part.
What to have?
After much deliberation, I ordered the Pasta Pomodoro.
Unfortunately for me, I am a vegetarian as well as a Coeliac. So my choice of menu options is even more limited than other people’s.
I was still happy with this wide range of gluten free choices on offer.
I also ordered a starter of the vegetarian jacket skins with cheese and chive.
After around 10 minutes of waiting our starters came.
My partner’s garlic bread was🍞 greasy and very thin and he was very disappointed, but eat it anyway because he was hungry.
These were the Onion rings he was served! The less said about them the better I think.
My starter of jacket skins, however, was burned and very bland.
Both starters were still mildly edible, but definitely not worth the money that we were paying for them. The onion rings though, I’m sorry are absolutely shocking! Even frozen from a supermarket would be better quality than that!
The main course was the issue for me.
As I said, I had asked for the Pasta Pomodoro.
This is what I was given:
This ‘meal’ and I use that term very very lightly, costs £7.95!
Or should I say, for lack of meal!
Unfortunately, this picture doesn’t do justice, to just how small this portion was.
That is a very shallow bowl and there couldn’t have been more than one child size handful of pasta there, and hardly any sauce! And I definitely couldn’t see any mozzarella!
Then I tried it!
The pasta was undercooked. It was more than just al dente, it was hard and chewy. Completely inedible.
The flavour wasn’t nice either, but that is beside the point with inedible crap.
I had to tell the waitress. She apologized and asked if I wanted another option. I was starving so I ordered the GF Portobello mushroom burger and corn on the cob.
After waiting another 20 minutes, my partner had finished his meal and I was left, feeling very very ‘Hangry‘!
Eventually, I decided I’d had enough. I had gone to eat a meal out with my partner, not to have two separate meals and end up eating alone. So I cancelled my meal.
I ended up eating nothing other than my starter, and my partner left really disappointed in his meal, but also upset for me. As I still have not had success in finding a decent gluten-free restaurant.
Our date was spoiled.
I must credit our waitress here, who was very very apologetic. I told her that it was not her fault. The waitress was in no way to blame for this, it all lays solely with the kitchen and the management.
My bad time with Frankie and Benny’s didn’t stop there, unfortunately.
Within 20 minutes of leaving the restaurant, whilst in the car, I started to get the most horrific tummy pains and that feeling of needing the bathroom…. URGENTLY!
We made it home and I literally had to run to the bathroom, where I proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes in the bathroom, in agony, with stomach cramps.
I don’t know what caused this reaction.
Could it have been a cross contamination issue or something to do with my Pepsi drink being served on draught rather than a bottle?
All I know is that my experience at Frankie & Benny’s is not something I will repeat, and I am very concerned that their Gluten-free accreditation is being poorly managed and not closely monitored.
On the website Frankie & Benny’s do state that ‘Every care is taken to avoid any cross contamination web processing an allergen order. We do however within a kitchen that processes allergenic ingredients and does not have a specific allergen-free zone or separately dedicated fryers”
Whilst it appears that Frankie & Benny’s are covering themselves with this disclaimer, I still believe that something went hugely wrong with their procedures, and maybe there GF accreditation should be reviewed.
I have since spoken with many other Coeliac sufferers on a Facebook forum, MANY of whom have suffered badly after eating here.
My advice for any Coeliac sufferers would be to avoid Frankie & Benny’s until their GF procedures and accreditation are reviewed. Something I urge Coeliac UK to do as a matter of urgency before someone is made very very sick!
I will not be returning.
Also published on Medium.