Hull · Restaurants

Viet Memories, Hull

No, not my memories. Somebody else’s. I’ve never been to Vietnam, personally, but I did think this place looked interesting, odd and quirky. There were some excellent reviews, and as my party are mainly vegan or vege, I decided to take a punt and a booking was made.

Finding parking in Hull city centre is hardly easy, but we found a place and went in search of a flash restaurant. When you invite others to a place you’ve never seen before it can be a bit of a nervy gamble. I’ve got to say, when we finally sussed out the location it came a bit of a shock. Surely we’d found the wrong place, and on opening the door, was convinced I’d made a huge mistake. It served as both a takeaway and a very small restaurant of sorts. To be honest, it looked a dump, with a long table in the middle of the room and basic chairs down both sides. I think you could describe it as a bit of a culture shock. On looking around the walls at the pictures, the over-bright fish tanks, and the near vicinity to the food counter it all seemed claustrophobic, yet on second thoughts, bizarrely authentic . In fact it just seemed as if we had just stepped off the street in Saigon, and with a bit of persuasion we all started to warm to it.

The menu selection looked amazing, with something delicious for everyone. Lots of Vegan and meat choices and everything screamed healthy food. It should also be noted that it had a 5 star food hygiene rating. The chef worked hard and was in full view behind a glass partition. How he managed to cook so much for so many, I’ll never know.

Our starters included grilled pork summer rolls, king prawn summer rolls, tofu summer rolls and king prawn and papaya salad. The rolls are filled with fresh crunchy herbs, lettuce and carrot along with your choice of meat, prawn or tofu and accompanied by different spicy dipping sauces and they are all made to order.

Main courses included Vietnamese shaking beef; tender diced beef, pan grilled with chilli, garlic and mixed herbs, Tofu asparagus special stir fried with mushrooms and garlic and sir fried tofu with noodles. Everything came to the table as and when it was ready and although Western etiquette requires waiting for the whole table to be served before starting to eat, we soon took to the Vietnamese way and ate while it was hot. Everything was fresh and tasty and we genuinely felt like this is what it must be like to eat out in Vietnam.

The staff at Viet Memories were most efficient and friendly, and were very accommodating to the child in our group. We thought the apple-shaped plate and the child-friendly utensils an excellent idea too. The portion was not overwhelming and being full she was able to take her yogurt home.

Were there any bad points? Well, for a start it’s just not big enough for such a popular venue. Our party of 8 were cramped in with 12 other diners. In fact two of our party were sitting at their table. There was not enough staff, and maybe more importantly our dishes were appearing one at a time for our party which meant some had finished their starter before others had been served.

However, overall we feel the food was delicious and faithful to its roots. Don’t be put off by the decor. It’s certainly not fine dining but it is an experience, and I thoroughly recommend a visit. I can’t wait to go back. Be adventurous and visit Viet Memories.

dining · Food · Hull · Restaurants

Frankie and Benny on Skid Row in Hull

Hi Folks,

Went on a cinema visit to Hull and decided to call in at well known chain of Frankie and Benny’s down on St Andrews Quay in Hull on 3rd July. And then wished we hadn’t!

Normally, you know what you’re getting in F & B’s. In my opinion it’s fast food done Italian style and served in an American/Italian diner. It’s not great, but it’s, well, all you’d expect, and not much more. To be extremely fair I’ve more than once had an excellent risotto and Spaghetti Bolognese in other F & B’s. My only criticism has ever been that it’s certainly not cheap.

Apologies for the constant reference to the time here, but it seemed important, to get my points across, so, to get back to St Andrew’s Quay in Hull. Went into F & B’s and waited to be seated. And we waited some more, and I should have turned around and tried somewhere else there and then. But we waited (along with other reasonably patient customers) for a waitress to make an appearance but could only see one front-of-house staff busy serving. To my surprise after a long 10 minutes waiting at the desk by the door, the same busy and flustered waitress found a few seconds to usher us to a table. It turned out that she was the only waitress there. After 5 minutes she came over and took our order. The first thing we noticed, while waiting thirty minutes for two glasses of coke, and which should have set the alarm bells ringing, was the amount of dishes waiting on the counter, under the heat lamps, waiting for ‘service’. Why? Well, it was totally down to a lack of staff. The poor woman was run off her feet and constantly apologising to customers for the wait. Time ticked by and after 50 minutes we had our starter of Mushroom Bruschetta on the table accompanied by profuse apologies. We asked if there was a staff shortage and her answer was that it was ‘always like this’. Our cutlery was dirty and we requested clean ones.

I know we should have complained there and then, but just didn’t have the heart to. She was obviously in a state of great stress. The Manager then stepped in to help her. That was sort of OK, and not before time, but he was hardly dressed for the occasion, in a suit which, to be honest, looked like it needed a good dry clean. We’d witnessed him handling money and paperwork behind the bar and there he was picking up plates with food from the service counter with his thumb or fingers (depending) in the food. Could have been worse, I suppose.

Mushroom Bruschetta consisted of three halves of bread roll sitting in an unappealing grey stew of mushrooms and onions. The bread was obviously going to be a soggy mess, and it was luke warm. We then waited for our main course of Spaghetti Bolognese and a goat cheese salad, which took 30 minutes to arrive. For 15 minutes we sat staring at the service counter hoping and praying that the bowl of salad on the counter was not ours and please, not the one placed under a heat lamp. Surely not! But it was. The salad consisted of wilted, soggy lettuce, at least one whole, but chopped, onion, goats cheese and a miniscule amount of pepper sprinkled on top. All nicely warmed. The Spag Bol was actually OK but only just as warm as the salad.

And all the time that waitress and the manager ran their socks off dealing with table clearing, serving and generally apologising. With two cokes, starter and main, the bill came to £38.00. Should we have complained? Well, who to? When I got home I felt the urge to write a strong letter of complaint so searched for an appropriate F & B site. But I could only find a generic web page. And like all of these huge business chains, the last thing they want is a page of complainers, so they don’t allow you the space for a good moan.

Good luck with a visit to Frankie and Benny’s at St Andrew’s Quay in Hull. Personally I think I’ll give it a miss. Cheers