I've found over the last couple of years that my blog has become a bit less about sharing excellent Edinburgh restaurants and more about family friendly high street chains. The reason? My daughter Paige, who in the blink of an eye is now 2. And kids don't come cheap so I find myself looking for places with money saving deals and vouchers, of which there are plenty.
Gone seem to be the days where I was feasting on a fine dining menu at Harvey Nicks and Contini Cannonball. Now you're more likely to find me wolfing down a pizza and sporting a Christmas cracker hat across the table from my daughter while trying to draw daddy yet again with the free crayons! It's all a bit against my ethos for feeding my child - I'm not a fan at all of 'kids menus' which are generally dried up fried food with chips. However, there does seem to be a place for this kind of restaurant that caters for families and allow my husband and I to eat a hot meal without too much trouble! Admittedly it's partly laziness - I know when I walk into these places we will be welcomed with a highchair, some kind of free entertainment for Paige (in the shape of aforementioned crayons!) and quick service. Anyone with experience of dining out with a toddler knows that speed is the name of the game!
My tastebuds might not always be grateful but the rest of me is. Grateful that I have a need for "family friendly" high street restaurant chains because I know how fortunate I am to have my lovely little family. And that brings me to my latest experience at Frankie and Benny's. Less about the food and more about the experience for the kids...
We were joined by grandparents, cousins and uncle on a cold November Sunday afternoon at Fort Kinnaird for a family get together to try F&Bs new Christmas menu (2 Courses £16.95, 3 courses £19.95 - kids also eat free on Boxing Day)
Our table was filled with balloons, crackers, streamers and party poppers which the kids were thrilled about and it set a nice party tone for our lunch. I absolutely adore Christmas so I was also delighted!
The festive menu is an interesting mix of traditional mixed with the usual F&Bs offering, so something for everyone. I opted for the buttermilk chicken tenders with rocket and a salsa verde Mayo to start. They were nice and crispy, however, the rocket had gone slightly mushy by the time they arrived at the table.
Hubby went for the Mac N' Cheese Cake - a crumbed macaroni cheese cake drizzled with BBQ sauce and topped with coleslaw. He seemed happy with it and the presentation was nice.
For main I thought I'd try something a little different so I opted for the Mushroom & Courgette Wellington - puff pastry filled with mushrooms and courgette with a hint of brandy, served with rosemary roasted potatoes, minted butter vegetables and a mushroom and white wine sauce.
What arrived was sadly on the disappointing side. The pastry was more like shortcrust to me and the mountain of wrinkled veg looked a little sorry for itself. However, my dining experience seemed to be in the minority amongst our party as everyone was happy - perhaps I just chose poorly.
Hubby had the Rigatoni Meatballs Italiano - juicy meatballs, red and green chilli, lemon zest, red onion, rigatoni pasta and Neapolitan sauce baked in the oven and topped with a crunchy cheese crumb. More the kind of thing F&Bs does best.
Writing this blog has started a bit of a mission. To find myself in excellent Edinburgh restaurants again that welcome families too but don't limit her food choice to fried/oven type food. Your suggestions are very welcome!
There was no festive kids menu so they all ended up dining off the usual kids menu of burgers, pizza, sausages, chips etc. No complaints from them! I wasn't able to manage a dessert so I went for a salted caramel hot chocolate instead (which was really a dessert) and it was yummy if a little messy! All in all we had a very pleasant afternoon. The staff were welcoming, friendly and attentive and the atmosphere is great if you're planning a family or office Christmas bash.
*Thank you to Frankie & Bennys at The Fort for providing a voucher to try their new festive menu*