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Old bank needs some investment.

Byline: Graham Young

LOOKING at this magnicent former bank from the outside, Bennetts should be a diamond destination - perhaps even the first port of call for namesake crooner Tony when he comes over to sing Fly Me To The Moon at Symphony Hall.

Instead, despite some fabulous additional craftsmanship inside, there's a feeling that this is a place more suited to the apocryphal Gordon Bennett.

If only Marston's Inns and Taverns were to invest in this place, then it might be able to recapture its former glories.

Once a Nat West Bank and before that the National Provincial Bank of England, the building is evidence of the old phrase 'class is permanent'.

But a worn carpet, holes in the wall on the way to the loo and loose or broken taps tell their own story.

Bennetts was so far from sparkling we decided not to have a main meal and to order sandwiches instead.

My wife Collette opted for a fish finger sandwich and I tried the brie and cranberry.

The bread was average, but the core ingredients - the fish and the brie - were fresh.

Niether of us welcomed a large amount of tortillo crisps as the rather garish 'garnish' and we were glad we'd ordered a side bowl of chips to share (pounds 2.35).

These weren't bad - nice and hot and fluffy on the inside.

Just as I was about to order our food at the bar, I spotted a poster on wall promising a sandwich and a drink for pounds 4.95.

It turns out the offer did not include even a half pint of the real ale choices which include Pedigree and Cocker Hoop from the Lakes, so I plumped for half an Australian Fosters.

I haven't had such a 'popular' form of lager for years and its sweetness was horrible to my palate.

Collette could have had a small Hardy's Chardonnay as part of the offer, but she ordered a Diet Pepsi Cola which brought no complaints, especially as there was plenty of it.

The cost for our lunch was pounds 12.25, which we could easily have spent in a sandwich shop these days.

There was plenty of room and the staff were pleasant if inevitably victims of their fading surroundings. But Bennetts should be top dollar.

CAPTION(S):

More Gordon than Tony: The grand exterior of Bennetts in Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, was not matched inside.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Feb 11, 2011
Words:402
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