Newest Review: ... available - instead of you having to wait for the server to bring refills. The menu at Nandos is very straightforward. Although most of ... more
Not your average chicken!
Member Name: Amyrose
Advantages: tasty food, reasonably priced, good atmosphere, clean
Disadvantages: inconsistent standards of service, not a great choice for vegetarians
Nandos seem to be springing up everywhere now but it wasn't until last year that I got my first taste of the stuff and now I'm hooked! I think I would describe Nando's as basically a Portuguese themed restaurant (although I think it is more of a fancy slightly more upmarket version of a fast food place) which has a huge focus on chicken and its famous peri-peri sauce.
===Waiter service or pay at the till? Little confused ===
When you arrive into a Nandos you are politely asked to wait to be seated by someone who then promptly asks you if you have eaten in a Nandos before. Having been seated I would have then expected them to take my order and to later pay my bill with them, however this is not the case. After deciding on what you would like you need to go to the till to make your order, which is later brought to you by a waiter again. This confuses me greatly and I personally would prefer waiter/waitress service throughout, especially as the queues can be quite hefty at times at the tills.
=== Do the Nando ===
When I first went to Nandos I felt a little confused as to how the whole system works but now it reminds me somewhat of subway. When you have your menu you simply decide on what you would like (more than likely some form of chicken), you then look to the peri-ometer to decide on the spiciness of the dish (ranges from plain to extra hot). You then decide if you would like to add any extras such as chips or rice and any drinks you would like. Personally I always have the bottomless option which is £2.35 consisting of the usual soft drinks. What I love about this is that the drinks machine is on the floor and not behind any counters so when you want a top up you are not relying on a member of staff to get this for you. You then place your order and wait for your food. You collect cutlery/napkins yourself and a wide range of sauces are available should you wish to have any extra with your meal.
=== The menu ===
The menu, unsurprisingly, revolves around almost all things chicken. This can come in various forms - whole, half and quarter, in burgers, wraps, pittas and also in platters. Salads are also available. There is not a wide variety for vegetarians - mushroom and halloumi burger, veggie burger or a bean burger. There is also one steak dish which is a prego steak roll. Various sides are also available from your bog standard chips to posher dishes like ratatouille. If you want to have a look more closely at what is on the menu then feel free to look... http://www.nandos.co.uk/sites/default/files/docume nts/ROI-Main-Mar12-0702.pdf
Prices vary with sides around £2.15 - £3.95 which personally I think is pretty standard. Mains tend to cost between £5-£12 but allow extra for additional sides like chips. Desserts are also available although personally I find the range fairly limited unless you want ice cream or frozen yoghurt - desserts tend to cost around £4 which again I think is around average.
I think that the menus themselves are set out very well and self-explanatory should you be unaware of the way that Nandos works. The last time I went the menus had special covers which had been designed by south African artists which I think complements the array of south African art they have around the restaurant.
===Atmosphere, décor and layout ===
Everytime I go to a Nandos it is always fairly busy and I like it this way. Personally if I saw somewhere that was completely empty I doubt I would go in for fear that it was so awful nobody wanted to be there. There is always somewhat of a 'buzz' if that's the correct term to use and the atmosphere is always lively and at times a little noisy. Décor and layout vary a little from place to place but I find they all have the recurring theme of lots of dark wood, south African pieces of art and quirky signs about chickens. There is usually a combination of different types of seating - some tables that are in my opinion too close and lack privacy, some tables that are further apart, and some booths too. I always find the chairs pretty comfy, and tables and the restaurant in general usually look spotless.
Sometimes there is more than one floor and sometimes not, and I think I'd say generally speaking Nandos is accessible to those who have disabilities as the ground floor seems to usually be accessible by a slope rather than steps. Of course this will vary from place to place so not all may be suitable.
=== Standard of service ===
This is something I have very mixed feelings about as the standard seems to vary every time I go. One thing I will say is that members of staff always seem to be appropriately and smartly dressed which I think is a great start. Some staff have been highly attentive (but not overpowering in any way) and clear your table promptly/ask if you would like any dessert. The last time I went to Nandos I was left feeling unimpressed with the level of service but I have to say as I was more than a little hung over I was in no mood to make any complaints. Once we walked in we were told we would need to wait a little while as they found somewhere to seat us which was of course fine. Less than a minute later a different member of staff asked us again how many of us there were and she promptly sat us at a table. Once we decided what to order we promptly moved over to the till to place it. The girl appeared to have had a late night and proceeded to tell my friend how she still needed to have a shower! Slightly unprofessional, if a little amusing. This was the longest I have ever waited for my food - at least half an hour which I couldn't understand as surely it does not take this long?! And as most of the orders will be chicken I wouldn't be surprised if they cook some off as they go along to ensure food goes out a bit quicker. Other times I have had much better service with very polite and professional staff on the tills, and prompt and courteous service. Although I have had good and bad experiences of the service I would say overall it fares slightly better than average.
=== The food ===
Personally I never stray from my trusty chicken burger so I have no idea how the rest of these dishes taste. Once you have decided on what dish you would like, you then need to decide what hotness you would like. Personally I absolutely hate spicy food and am impressed my friend even managed to get me into Nando's let alone eat anything! I decided I would just have my chicken burger plain but was horrified when I read that even that would have been marinated in peri peri sauce for 24 hours so would still be mildly spicy. Reading though the other options which range from mild (lemon and herb or mango and lime) right up to extra hot, I decided that if I went for one of the mild choices then it at least might cover up some of the spiciness so in the end went for lemon and herb. I also opted out of the mayo and salad as I cannot stand these things! I was very happy with my meal when it arrived, it was hot to touch and looked and smelt very appetising. The chips were scrummy - golden and fluffy and just the right amount for a good portion without overstuffing yourself. I found the chicken took me a while to try as I was put off by the orange coloured sauce on it (I seem to have issues with sauce on food) but I just left it in the bun and took a big bite. I was very pleasantly surprised as I was expecting to hate it (I pretty much purely went to Nandos because that's where my friend had wanted to go and I didn't want her to miss out). It was delicious! Full of flavour but without too much of a spicy kick. There is a definite heat to it and to be honest I'm not really sure I can particularly taste the lemon, but this doesn't bother me too much as I thought it was scrummy anyway. This for me is the most spicy I would go and although I have been tempted to try the mango and lime which is the same sort of level, I love the lemon and herb combo too much to stray. I have never heard any complaints from friends about their food which I think reflects the quality of the food. The chicken is apparently always fresh and not frozen and is marinated in peri-peri and when you order it is grilled over an open flame which results in lower cholesterol and fat content which makes me feel less guilty about eating here.
Usually after my main I am pretty full and don't fancy anything else but on one occasion I did have the choc-a-lot cake which I was distinctly unimpressed with. It only comes with clotted cream which I didn't fancy, I think it would have been nice to have more options of accompaniments. I suppose that it was fairly moist and chocolaty but it was just nothing special and not something that I would ever choose to have again, although having said that none of the other desserts appeal to me either. However my friend raves about the cheesecake so that might be a good choice for those of you that like it.
=== Free chicken? Yes please! ===
One thing I LOVE about Nandos (other than the very yummy chicken) is their loyalty card. Everytime you eat at Nandos and spend a minimum of £6 you get a stamp on your card. On your third stamp you get a free quarter chicken worth £4.05, on your sixth stamp you get a free half chicken worth £6.95 and on your tenth visit you get a free whole chicken! This is worth £11.95. I think this is a great system which encourages me to go back for more. I recently had my free quarter chicken and I think it definitely tasted better for the fact that it cost me nothing. On my recent visit I would have technically received a free half chicken but I felt far too hungover to eat extra chicken so asked if I could put my stamp on the space after and to claim my half chicken another time which was no problem at all. I think the amount to gain a stamp is also very reasonable as most things will cost around the £6 mark at least. I always have a chicken burger and a bottomless drink which sets me back just under a tenner.
=== Toilet facilities ===
In my local restaurant the toilets are upstairs but I am unsure if there are any disabled toilets on the ground floor. The toilets are always clean, well stocked and hygienic so no complaints there.
=== To summarise...the good ===
* Very tasty food
* The décor and ambience
* Very clean
* Reasonably priced
* Food tends to be served fairly quickly
* Easy to tailor your meal to your personal preferences
* Drinks machine on the floor so that you can go get them yourself without waiting on a member of staff
=== Could be improved ===
* Inconsistent standards of service
* Needs more choice for vegetarians
* Perhaps have waiter service all the way through as the current system seems a little confused
* Occasionally food takes too long to come out
=== Overall opinion ===
Overall I am generally impressed with my Nandos experience. I find the food to be extremely tasty although I guess some could say it is overpriced for what is essentially just chicken marinated in a now well known sauce. Personally I find the pricing reasonable as long as I am not intending to eat there too often, and I think that the loyalty card makes it worth going back repeatedly. Restaurants I have been to are always clean with staff usually being professional and friendly. Food doesn't normally take more than 10 minutes or so to come out so would be ideal for a lunch break. Overall I would say I am generally very happy with my experiences of Nandos although as with most things there is definitely room for improvement. I would recommend this to pretty much anybody, even those who don't like spicy foods as I don't. 4 out of 5 from me ( I have taken one star off for the inconsistent standards of service).
Thanks for reading
Summary: overall a great experience and one I recommend