We were greeted with a ferocious dirty ass smell. I’m not kidding it was bad. It smelled as if we were in the middle of a badly kept public restroom. Once we stepped foot into Bennigan’s we felt as if we were in some bizarro world. Once upon a time, Bennigan’s was up there in popularity with T.G.I. Friday’s and Chili’s. It fell from grace big time and bad time. As a matter of fact, the last time I ate at Bennigan’s about 2 years ago I was served raw chicken tenders.
Why would I return? I was hoping for a brand new Bennigan’s. They had gone out of business and were gradually re-opening the old locations with what I thought was a new menu. I also missed their Monte Cristo sandwich. The Monte Cristo is a Ham, Turkey, Swiss and American Cheese Sandwich on Wheat Bread, battered, deep fried and then dusted with Powdered Sugar. If that wasn’t enough it’s served with a side of Raspberry jam for dipping. It was also one of those sandwiches that were so rich, it became a task to eat the entire thing. Not because of the taste, although it’s very good it’s just that it would become repugnant.
The other thing we noticed after we walked in was the good majority of the employees could easily be cast in a C level movie as an Igor. As we sit down, the first thing out of my friend Ed’s mouth is, “This was a bad idea”. The worse our meal got, the more miserable Ed became and the more I would laugh.
So Fritz comes to take our drink order. He mentions the soft drinks available are Pepsi, Lemonade, & Raspberry Iced Tea. I order the Lemonade and Ed asks for the Raspberry Iced Tea. “I’m sorry we’re out of Raspberry Iced Tea.” Ed just looks over at me and I can’t help but laugh. He decides to also enjoy a refreshing Lemonade, the best thing on the menu. Why offer a drink and then say immediately they’re out of it, so weird.
While he is deciding whether he should order a soup I order an appetizer sampler plate that includes Quesadillas, Southwestern Egg Rolls and Potato Skins. He decides on their Baked Potato Soup (something I believe they were known for in the past)…..a swing and a miss. “I’m sorry we’re not serving the Baked Potato Soup yet.” We decided to not ask what “yet” meant and he orders the French Onion Soup.
We make the executive decision to split 2 dishes so we get their Mini Burgers and a Monte Cristo both with fries. The French Onion Soup and the appetizer platter is served at the same time. For one second there we thought everything was going to be OK. All 3 apps were just the average everyday appetizers. The only one that looked kind of weird was the Potato Skins which looked almost like hollowed out coconuts.
As I’m tasting the platter, Ed is taking his first slurps of the soup. His explanation of the soup was “dirty salty water”. The best part was, there was no bread in the soup. It had some old crackers floating on the salty substance. How do I know they were old? He begged me to taste it after I refused multiple times. Trust me, they were old.
Ed begins to eat the appetizers and proceeds to try and sell me on how great they are. I am now convinced that soup damaged his taste buds. By the time the Mini Burgers and the Monte Cristo arrive, I’m trying to decide whether to try them or just call it a day and take them to go. Both dishes had an odd flavor we could not pinpoint.
They were both way off and I have a sneaking suspicion it had to do with the freshness of the food. I also remember the fries being different with some seasoning on them but now they were just the plain regular fries with not much flavor.
I had a good time at Bennigan’s, but not because the food was good or the service was extraordinary. No, it was because Ed’s experience was worse than mine and sometimes, that’s good enough for me. Oh yeah, don’t eat at this Bennigan’s.
UPDATE: This Bennigan’s location CLOSED short after this post.