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Legendary Portuguese chicken restaurant
Member Name: ask_eve
Date: 26/02/13, updated on 26/02/13 (109 review reads)
Advantages: lovely, lovely food, cheap drinks, nice restaurant vibe.
I remember when Nando's first opened and I was told it was primarily a chicken-serving restaurant. I was told every dish involves chicken and wasn't particularly interested in going there. I didn't see how a proper sit down restaurant could revolve around chicken and be so popular or interesting as you can't really be that creative with chicken. My friends and family had all visited Nandos for various occasions and I was persuaded with the offer of a free lunch to go ahead with my daughter and give it a go.
We originally went to the Nando's restaurant in Castlegate, Dudley. It's not a particularly large restaurant but is a decent size with plenty of seating area. It's located amongst other restaurants, a pub and a large cinema so there's lots to do in the area and plenty of parking right by the restaurant. The exterior of the restaurant seems quite posh. The Nando's logo is on the front of the building in large red letters with potted plants outside and wooden beams over the entrance.
Once inside the restaurant we were given a menu and told there would be about a ten minute wait. There's an area of seats where you're able to wait for a table which is much nicer than standing. The restaurant is decorated really nice with large paintings, extravagant lampshades and nice wooden tables and chairs. The lighting is nice too, it's not really bright but is given a nice glow by numerous lights dotted around the room. It's not too dark so you're able to see your food but it sets a nice mood. There's cheerful Portuguese or Spanish (I'm not sure which) music playing quietly in the background of the restaurant which again adds to the relaxing atmosphere of it. My first though was that it felt like I was on holiday. When you dine out in a nice foreign restaurant in a hot country, this is what Nando's feels like to me which makes sense as Nando's is a Portuguese style restaurant.
I thought the menu would be a bit plain as I didn't know how much you could do with chicken but I was pleasantly surprised. There's a range of appetisers wittily labelled as appeteasers including mixed olives, peri peri nuts and a humous peri drizzle pitta bread all priced around £3.45. The mains include a quarter of a chicken, half a chicken, a chicken butterfly, burgers and pittas and a couple of chicken wraps. All Nando's restaurants have a frozen yoghurt dispenser which you can use yourself for dessert. They also serve a variety of flavours of gelado, cheesecakes and carrot cake.
I didn't have a starter as I don't usually eat that much and wasn't sure what the main portion sizes were like so thought I'd play it safe and have a dessert afterwards if the main wasn't filling enough. When you choose what chicken dish you would like, you also have to choose the the spice level. This can be from plain-ish which I'd imagine is little spice, lemon and herb or mango and lime which adds flavour, medium, hot or extra hot. This is clearly explained on the menu with a spice chart so you're able to make an informed choice on what you want. Once you've decided what you want and how hot, you can order sides with it. It's normal to order our burger, chicken or wrap with two sides which is priced on the menu. I opted for the chicken butterfly with medium spice as I don't like my food to be too bland. I had coleslaw and chips as my side which sounded like it would be lovely. Other sides available include corn on the cob, garlic bread, haloumi cheese and spicy rice. It says on the menu that the coleslaw is freshly made in the restaurant and I was keen to try this as it's something I haven't tried before, I've always bought it ready-made in Asda.
There are also vegetarian options on the menu which I haven't mentioned. You can get a beanie burger, veggie burger, and haloumi and mushroom rolls and pittas. I've not tried any of these as I do like their chicken but I've been told the beanie burger is particularly nice and is a favourite of one of my friends who isn't vegetarian.
The drinks menu isn't great, they do bottomless soft drinks which are just £2.45. I think they are the best value. They also offer red, white and rose wine and some portugese beers and ciders. They don't serve popular lagers, alocopops or ciders which I think would be a bit better as you tend to stick to your favourite drink when you're out.
Once you've decided what you want, you go to the counter, tell them your table number and pay for your food there. I ordered two bottomless soft drinks with the meals and was given my receipt and two glasses which you're able to fill yourself at the drinks machine. I quite like this as it means you don't have to pester the waiters for re-fills.
The restaurant was quite busy so I thought we'd have a long wait for food, particularly as it's all cooked fresh but it came out after about 15 minutes which I thought was more than reasonable. The food was nicely laid out with the chips and chicken on the plate and the coleslaw in a separate bowl. I'd expected a small scoop of coleslaw on the side but got quite a big bowlful as well as a good helping of chips. I wasn't overly impressed with the size of the chicken butterfly as it didn't look that big but it was quite thick and a lot more filling than it looked. The chicken looks very succulent and juicy and is covered in their herbs and sauce, it looks delicious. I asked the waiter for a side serving of barbecue sauce which he happily fetched for me and gave to me in a small plastic dish.
The chicken was cooked brilliantly and was soft and easy to cut. It has a fantastic taste, it wasn't overly spicy but I wouldn't have gone any spicier as it was definitely hot enough. It was very juicy and chewy and tasted great mixed with the coleslaw and the BBQ sauce. The chips were also lovely, none of them were burnt or bad and they were well cooked and very more-ish. The whole meal was really nice and I must admit, I've never enjoyed such a simple meal of chicken and chips as much as I did then, it's very simple but cooked to such high quality. It was also very filling, I didn't have room for dessert although I had wanted to try the frozen yoghurt as people kept walking past with it in little tubs and it looked really nice.
The meal and the drinks came to around £25 which I think is quite pricey for lunch for two but was worth every penny as not only was I full but I'd enjoyed the experience of being in a nice restaurant and felt like I'd eaten really good quality food. I've since been back to Nando's quite regularly and always have a chicken butterfly with the same sides as it is so nice. I had a change yesterday and tried one of the wraps. It was a really good size filled with chicken breast chunks, lettuce and a medium spicy sauce. It was really lovely but now I have to choose between the butterfly and the wraps on future visits which is a pain! I also tried a serving of haloumi cheese which I must say I wasn't impressed with. For about £2 I only got a little dish with two slices of grilled cheese in. Although it was quite nicely done, I've had it in a greek restaurant where it was much nicer and I know it's only £2 for a whole block so was a bit disappointed with how much I got for how much I paid. This is the only time I've ever been disappointed with something I've ordered from Nando's.
There is a large sink in the restaurant where you're able to wash your hands after your meal which I thought was really unusual and quite a nice touch. The restrooms are also very nice. In the Dudley restaurant, there's only two toilets which isn't great because the restaurant can get really busy. There's one sink which is large and quite posh with a large mirror behind it and the toilets are really clean and fresh which adds to a nicer experience when you go there. I've been to lots of nice places that have been let down by poor hygiene in the bathrooms but their quality reaches every area of the restaurant.
I've since been to the Nando's restaurant in Wolverhampton and in the Bullring and have found that all the restaurants offer the same quality and the food tastes and looks exactly the same wherever you go. They've done a really good job at maintaining great quality throughout their different branches.
If you're a regular at Nando's you can get a loyalty card which I think is a really good idea. Every time you spend £6 or more you get your card stamped or signed. Three stamps gets you a free 1/4 chicken, 6 stamps gets you a free 1/2 chicken and 10 stamps will get you a free whole chicken. I like this idea as it can save you quite a bit of money on your main but I wish it included the butterfly chicken and wraps as I don't really eat chicken off the bone. It's still a good idea to get people to keep going to the restaurant and get something back in return.
Overall, I really like Nando's. I love the food that they offer, the quality, the vibe of the restaurant and the fact that its an ideal place to go whatever the occasion. You can go there for lunch with a friend, to celebrate a birthday or occasion or for a romantic date and I think it would be suitable for all. It's not the cheapest place to eat but I think it is worth more than you pay as it's really great food. If you haven't already, give it a try!
Summary: A great restaurant that I wish I'd discovered a long time ago!!