No place is exempt from inspection, here at the EATCardiff country mansion (we have a swimming pool and a gas barbeque, don’t you know?), and certainly not the painstakingly popular Nando’s. Seriously, as a planet, we are too easy to please. Nando’s is everywhere. Twice. And as endearing as ‘authentic’ PERI-PERI shouty sauce is, said authenticity drops when it’s more saturated than the latest YouTube viral video. Yet it appears we’re the idiots, as queues of cock lovers spawn at every minute of the day, as if chicken and chips had never been done before.
Let’s call this next section ‘Confession Corner’, even if it isn’t your typical corner. We thought Nando’s was about as Portuguese as a sombrero playing a banjo in a dusty Middle-Eastern town, and while it is, it isn’t at the same time. If we’d asked one of its anti-helpful staff members (not their fault) with regards the history of the eatery, we’d put our last remaining euros on a shrug of the shoulders and the glorious question, ‘Have you been to Nando’s before?’ as the answer.
Instead, we discovered it began in a South African laboratory one rainy afternoon in 1987, where sane scientists with a stereotypical screw loose Fernando Duarte and Robert Brozin were attempting to cure bird flu. Although close to finding the answer, a miscalculated tweak of a proposed antidote produced a dangerously infectious disease that targeted humans. Frighteningly, it engulfed the central nervous system of every South African, and rapidly spread across the country before the final evacuation to Australia could leave unaffected. Unfortunately, the Australian population could not prevent the pandemic’s unrelenting rise. The infection has since strangled 29 more countries across the globe, where many millions are now helpless in queuing for chicken and chips, as observed in the image above.
Quite a story, eh?
Apparently virus N4ND05 had not infected us until recently, so we thought we’d do our bit for the planet’s recovery by discussing our experience under the influence of this dreadful disease.
To us, Nando’s is the ultimate example of marketing wizardry. The product is more simplistic than a one-piece jigsaw, looks authentic and doesn’t do very much, yet it’s popular beyond the word’s meaning. For some reason, as if the chain hadn’t existed for 26 years, you’re asked if you’ve ever graced the wonderment of Nando’s before without fail. Why don’t Nando’s encourage a “I’ve been to Nando’s before so don’t ask me that bloody question” badge, to save poor staff the vocal chord strain?
For us stay-aways, it’s not so bad, but you’d think those that feel inclined to visit on a daily basis would get bored not only of the limited offer but the robotic service, too. Say “yes”, and you’ll be handed a menu. Say “no”, and you’ll be told that you’ll be handed a menu.
Superb. And the ‘service’ gets better than that. Not only do you queue outside for around 20 minutes, staring in awe at the vegetation it has to offer, you’re eventually sat down, where you’re directed towards the nearest till where you have to queue again once you’ve made your very limited choice.
It’s either chicken or chicken, really. And if you don’t like chicken at this point, you’ll have handily wasted 30 minutes of your life. Maybe it’s a bit harsh, but Nando’s service style is baffling. Customers are led to a table, given all the spiel and hastily abandoned… What? Picture that at McDonald’s. It makes as much sense as a midget basketballer, doesn’t it?
The premise for meal selection is this: choose a chicken part, add a side (or two) and add dull sauce, or one that, to quote the menu, is like “Tackling a dragon in a fiery furnace”. Or, do all that without chicken. It’s very simple, and judging on the clientèle at the time, the ladies love it, gentlemen.
Again, the choice is your: sit around, starve and wait until it closes; or get up, join the second queue, get your jackass card stamped, collect your unlimited refill glass, stuff yourself full of sugar and sweeteners and wait three and a half minutes for it to arrive.
If speed and unlimited drinks is what gets you up in the morning, Nando’s is recommended. Clearly, the company worked this out years ago, and we can reluctantly see why it’s so popular. At around £10 or more, it’s far too expensive for what it is: chicken and chips; chicken and rice; chicken and ‘slaw; or, in our case, chicken and chicken and rice and garlic bread, but the public are willing to pile in on a daily basis due to its simplistic nature.
As hinted, we chose a whole chicken, with more chicken as a friend had completed his card, plus rice and garlic bread. Admittedly, it was quite good for what it was. It was chicken on the bone in a medium/tasteless baste that came with rice and garlic bread with a flag in it. We haven’t had a flag in our food since the Monkey Tree, now known as Miller & Carter, so that was nice as we clapped our indoctrinated hands in repetitive joy.
This is what’s baffling. There’s literally nothing else to say, other than its food offer is so easy to do at home yourselves for half the price. In fact, with proper seasoning it could be much better in your own gaff.
Fair enough. As one Twittererer pointed out after a quick Nando’s hash-tagging session, there’s no waiting around for a bill at the end, and that’s probably Nando’s only unique selling point. It’s simple: queue, sit, select, queue, pay, get drink, sit, wait, stuff face full of flavourless chicken, and leave. And it’s relatively souless.
Not to knock the staff, who were great with the limited script they’re given; and they’re clearly well looked-after by the company as they helped themselves to lunch on breaks (sorry if we’ve just grassed you up, ‘Gareth’), which is great to see; but they simply don’t get the chance to make it worthwhile. Go to any Nando’s in the country and it’s exactly the same, save for accent. It’s conveyor belt consistency at its finest, yet so utterly drab.
Nando’s lacks anything special for us, which is an astoundingly unpopular opinion because of its worldwide success, but we’re too stubborn to care.
Don’t take our ‘bird’ for it: