I went to Nando’s for the first time a while ago. I won’t be going again.
In fact, I’m now rather honestly of the opinion that if you like or enjoy the experience of going to Nando’s, you’re a bad person* who doesn’t know what actual taste is and just fills the void with contextless spice, like a bitter old tart who goes out and has meaningless sex with drunk young men in lieu of having some actual love in her life.
But yeah, Nando’s. First impressions were not good: The Nando’s in Cheshire Oaks at least is a cold, overcrowded and noisy room that doesn’t so much invite you to eat as dare you to try and consume food in a fridge: imagine some form of gaudy shouting party being hosted in Antarctica and you’ve got the idea.
In fairness we were quickly shown to our tacky, recently sanitary-sprayed table, and the lady who did this managed to do so without getting lost, falling over or stabbing any of the customers with a fork – although for reasons that would soon become apparent that last one is pretty much impossible.
Menus were quickly distributed, and myself and my dining partner (The effervescent and spectacular Abi, or Lovely Girlfriend as she is often called (by me)) set about deciding what we would eat (Well, she did; I’d already worked out what I was having online in order to calorie count like the pathetic excuse of a man I am).
It turns out that this is somewhat more complicated than usual at Nando’s: Everything has four million different options attached to it, and any advice offered by the waitress was drowned out by all the crowing buffoons barking at each other at a volume that could crack stone. Besides, our friendly waitress was long gone – we were on our own.
After some consternation, we made our choices: Chicken and stuff, twice – which is handy really, being as despite all the options, choices and tickboxes on offer, that is the entire menu – and I then tried to catch the attention of someone taking orders.
Yeah, that doesn’t happen, I realised after a good five minutes of my best eyebrow raises and casual waves – turns out you have to go and order your food yourself here. Also, now all the staff think I fancy them, I have a secret to tell them or that I’m very ill – Or some combination of the three.
It also turns out that here you have to get your own drinks, cutlery, sauces and condiments, which would be fine except for two things:
First off, the staff have a tip jar. Now, I’m fairly certain that I’m actually doing more work for my food than you are in this situation; I have to do a lap of the restaurant before I can return to the table with food ordered and the correct implements to eat it with. As such, the fact that you cheeky little sods expect extra from me for making this about 10% less effort and 90% more expensive than it would be if I’d just stayed at home is simply bloody laughable: You’re not getting a penny more off me than what the bill works out to – If anything I think I’m owed an hour’s rate at whatever you pay your waiting-on staff.
Second of all, the fact that the room is so over-full means that as people wander about desperately trying to find which end of the room allows them to get a fork, little queues start to form all over the room. These, of course, make navigating the ‘restaurant’ tricky, if not impossible at times. Every time I got up for something I felt like Scott of the pissing Antarctic.
Anyway, I completed the food ordering assault course and returned to the table to await our lovely chicken that everyone had told us about: I was quite excited.
Then, it arrived and I find out that Nando’s only do two flavours: Fire and nothing.
Here are some questions I would like to ask ‘Nando’, should the chickeny little prick actually exist:
-How do you make peas spicy, exactly, and why would you choose to do so in the first place, you terrible tool?
-Is this garlic bread, or just someone projecting the concept of garlic bread onto a thick piece of card?
-I asked for ‘medium**’ chicken. This also tastes of fire. Why is that, exactly? Is it because you had a terrible childhood and setting fire to the roof of my mouth makes you feel a bit better about your loveless mother? Is that it?
-Why do your sauces all taste like you’ve taken whatever ingredients are on the label, set fire to them with an entire box of cook’s matches and then put them out with pissy petrol?
I would’ve had a better time if the place was called Dando’s and I had to shoot my lunch on its own doorstep.
I almost hate myself for going through all the effort I did for that unsatisfying, bizarre meal; it’s like a bloody test in some new Saw film, if the franchise took a surprising and ill-advised middle class twist and most of the challenges were based around receiving crap food in return for surprising amounts of work: Wander round for ages, get some taste-free chicken that will make your face hurt.
I would’ve complained or asked for a comment card, but doing so is impossible as all the staff are either seating another group of victims or blocked off like a pellet in a game of Snake by a line of customers waiting to pour their own pissing drinks or get a knife or find some salt or braise a lamb shank or something.
No, I don’t want self-serve frozen yoghurt, get off me. It’s Orange Wednesday and I want to go and queue for half an hour to watch Super 8.
Shit off, Nando’s. Shit off right now, and don’t come back until you’re no longer a cold room selling fire and bland to braying dolts.
*This has been edited as the lovely Matthew Crosby pointed out that I can’t go calling people simpletons when I can’t read a menu.
**Again, edited thanks to Matthew Crosby. This man knows his stuff.