11 May 2007

Nan don't

So, off to Nando's to score a bottle of Stormhoek Pinotage for the cost of 2 glasses.

Well, that was the idea. But despite an entrance display and the restaurant being covered in signs promoting their Wine Festival offer, the till rang up the full bottle price. Luckily I noticed the price momentarily flash up on the till and queried it and (after the managers special till authorisation card had been obtained) got a correction before paying. But I didn't notice they'd overcharged on the food, and with the general environment the evening wasn't the great success I'd hoped.

The St Albans Blog recommends sitting upstairs, but staff headed off anyone making for the stairs and seated us crammed together on the ground floor until it was full. Various reasons were given, but basically it was for the convenience of the staff who presumably were tired of going up and down those stairs.

The tills didn't always recognise combo's and charged each item separately, thus our order of chicken, chips & corn was charged as a combo (£8.10)while our order of chicken, chips and salad wasn't billed as a chicken/salad combo (£8.10)with a side of chips (£1.65) totalling £9.75 but as chicken (£5.45), salad (£3.45) & chips (£1.65) totalling £10.55.

The chicken was tender, there was more peri-peri sauce on it than I've ever had it before, the chips were dull, like McCain oven chips, but there were plenty of them. The salad and its dressing were good, mixed lettuce leaves with three baby tomatoes and a couple of pepper strips.

I think Nando's basic idea is brilliant. Flame grilled chicken (not deep fried like KFC) coated with a spicy sauce before cooking over real flames (not cooked elsewhere and microwaved like McD's) served with some simple accompanients, perfeck!

My original Nando's experience was in Sandton, Johannesburg, the first time I went to South Africa in 1996. There was waitress service, great food, a choice of spicy sauces. It was really enjoyable and I thought then that this was an idea that would succeed. And if I was any sort of a businessman (which I am not) I'd have taken a franchise immediately.

Over the years in Johannesburg and the Cape I have eaten Nando's takeaways, and I was pleased when Nando's started to open in the UK and delighted when one appeared in Snorbens.

So, what about the wine? The bottles were stacked on the counter by the kitchen, not ideal conditions, and thus the Pinotage was too warm. This was the 2006 vintage, not the award winning 2005, and -- maybe because of the conditions it was kept and served in -- it didn't taste quite as good, there was a sharp edge to it and a rim of small bubbles.

We didn't hang around for a dessert (tempting though they sounded), but took the unfinished bottle home, where chiled a little it delivered some ripe blackberry fruits and - the little that was left -was very drinkable.

Conclusion -- Nando's is a place to eat, not to dine.


  1. Hi Peter

    Interesting info re the heat possibly affecting the wine... i will def note this and query the situation.

    Catherine (Stormhoek)

  2. Sounds like some secondary fermentation had started happening... Yuck!

  3. Anonymous11:43

    Sounds like Nando's need to pull up their socks! Thx for the review...