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Florida Guide > Dining

Bennigan's

We stumbled across Bennigan’s in Miami, on our first trip to Florida, and it has become a firm favourite for a freshly cooked meal, served promptly and at a great price. Since then we have sampled Bennigan’s in various parts of Orlando, near Tampa, and around the Fort Lauderdale area. We particularly like the one on the 192, near Marker 8. The restaurant is located around a large bar area, where you can sit and enjoy a drink before you eat your meal. It is a bustling and busy restaurant with a great atmosphere.

At the time, we had young children, and the one thing that we found so great was the way in which this is a real family restaurant. They not only welcome children, but they provide a special menu, with a free drink in a special cup that you can take home, and to complete the meal, a clover cookie. There are the usual dishes like kid-size hamburger, golden chicken strips, hot dogs and pizza, but there is also spaghetti noodles in a marinara sauce, a junior salad with chicken, macaroni cheese and grilled cheese, which is a toasted cheese sandwich. There is ‘cookies and cream’ to follow – vanilla ice cream topped with crushed Oreos, whipped cream and a cherry, or maybe an ice cream shake in strawberry, chocolate or vanilla. Of course there are unlimited refills of drinks.

The whole atmosphere is geared towards making a great family occasion, so it is no wonder that it is so popular that, in the peak times, you may have to queue outside – but that is no hardship, as it is relaxing to sit in the Florida sunshine and watch the sun set. They supply ‘bleepers’ so you can wander around outside and look in the shops while you wait. As soon as your table is ready the bleeper will flash and then you know it’s your turn. They are very efficient, and it rarely takes too long.

Bennigan’s is a unique blend of Irish/American, and is a bit like a neighbourhood pub or tavern, where American residents go to meet up with friends, or to have a family meal. Step inside and you will see what makes Bennigan’s so unique. Each restaurant is styled in a similar way, with each wall hung with various memorabilia and artefacts. The tables are simply covered with a green cloth, and above them you will likely find a colourful Tiffany lamp – but watch out, some are very low and we have bumped into them from time to time! It’s fascinating to look around as you wait for your meal. The service is fast and efficient, and the food freshly cooked and served to your table.

One of the great things about Bennigan’s is that you can choose from a variety of vegetables, such as garlic mashed potatoes, black beans, fresh green beans, Cinnamon Apples, French Fries, Roasted vegetables, and my personal favourite, steamed broccoli. Their baked Idaho potatoes are pretty good too, and come with a range of ‘fixings’ such as cheese, chives, butter, etc.

All tastes are catered for as they serve a huge range of dishes, from appetizers like Boneless Buffalo Wings, Calamari, Caribbean Crab Cakes or Chicken Tenders to name but a few. If you would rather have soup then try their mouth-watering and very filling Ultimate Baked Potato Soup, a creamy soup with chunks of potato. There are, of course many salads including Asian or Greek Chicken Salad, plus the usual Caesar salad – ask for a low fat dressing if you are watching the inches. The Honey Dijon is a firm favourite with our family. As for main courses, well of course there is a range of huge burgers which will fill you right up, and chicken dishes such as Crispy Almond Chicken or Chicken Stir Fry. If steaks are your favourite then I can recommend the Fire Grilled Sirloin, or the 12 oz Rib-eye steak. Their fajitas are to die for – try their Southwest fajitas with chicken or beef, served in a skillet, sizzling at your table. The ‘Oh Baby’ Back Ribs come with a tangy BBQ sauce. There is even a new grilled meatloaf.

If you prefer fish then there are Tempura Fried Shrimps, Cajun Seafood Platter, Atlantic Salmon and Fish and Chips, to name but a few. But even if you can’t manage a meal and just want a quick lunch, then there are some great sandwiches to choose from – Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Reuben, Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu, and many more.

And if you still have a bit of room left then finish your meal with one of their huge desserts. Death by Chocolate is one not to be missed – it is seriously dangerous. Or perhaps Abbey’s Apple Sizzler, which is served in a skillet lined with an oatmeal walnut cookie crust, and topped with cinnamon ice cream. Delicious!

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Page added on: 28 November 2005
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