Luton Airport calls itself ‘London Luton Airport’ despite being 32 miles from Central London. Likewise, Frankie & Benny’s calls itself an Italian Restaurant, despite there not being a single F&B Restaurant in Italy. Yes, I know it’s an Italian-American restaurant, originating from New York’s Little Italy. I’ve eaten in other F&Bs before and know what to expect; pasta with meatballs, pizza, burgers and steaks – American food just like most other US chains.
Luton Airport has been missing an airside table service restaurant for a few months now – I think the previous restaurant was called Est Café. The airport terminal waiting area is small, seats are at a premium, the bar service dire and drinks expensive. The only other ‘restaurant’ isn’t table service – you have to queue with a tray, collect food and pay before finding a seat. So I was happy to find that F&Bs was finally open – it wasn’t when I passed through the airport two weeks previously.
The USP of F&Bs is that you feel like you are in a New York Italian diner; old pictures on the wall, eclectic memorabilia, slightly reminiscent of prohibition times – at least that’s what I think they are aiming at. Sadly, this F&Bs have decided to open up the entire restaurant frontage to the airport terminal. The only thing between the tables and the terminal are some large flower planters (you can see them in the picture I took). There are also a lot less dining booths and the focus is on (too many) smaller tables situated too close together.
I was seated reasonably quickly (it was Friday evening). Sadly, mine was a small table on the fringe of the restaurant; I wrapped my laptop bag strap around my leg as the proximity to so much passing traffic made me feel a bit uneasy. I ordered the following:
Large (250ml) glass of Frascati £5.85
330ml sparkling water £2.65
Salmon fish cakes with fries £11.45
The wine and water were okay – although more expensive than a non-airport F&Bs. The salmon fishcakes were a bit disappointing when they arrived: They were breaded but looked anaemic, not a golden brown and I was worried that they weren’t cooked. I cut them in half and they were hot. I assumed they’d been microwaved and not browned in a pan. They tasted okay, just not worth £11.45.
As this is the only table service restaurant in Luton airport, I’ll probably go back and try something different. This time I’ll hang out for a table in the back of the restaurant.