Something To Crow About

Ealing home to the first ever British Nando's


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Yes, some of you may not know this but the Nando's at Ealing Common tube station was Britain's first. And, at the risk of offending people, I for one say that is a claim to fame.

I just love it! This isn't really a review of one visit, but a lifetime's worth of attendances at the family-friendly venue. And I appear to have bred the next generation of devotees as my children would also eat there at least once a week if I let them (and more often than not I do!).

Can something this good be so wrong? Junk food is in the media all the time and my oldest has announced that he won't set foot in a McDonalds ever again, even for water, but Nando's for me doesn't come into the same bracket. Probably because a future without it doesn't seem worth contemplating.

So what's all the fuss about? Well basically, it's the lack of fuss. You know where you are with a Nando's. And that's no paltry thing! Chicken and chips. I read a negative review on the place, saying that this fast food chain is for the unadventurous, lacking in imagination. But I would argue that when I go to a Chinese restaurant I expect Chinese food, when I go to Pizza Express I expect pizza. Here I expect chicken. Doesn't mean I'd go here every day of the week.

And anyway, it's more than just chicken - it's flame grilled, Portuguese-style peri peri marinaded chicken. A mouthful just to say.

Nando's is a Portuguese-style chicken chain, specializing in flame grilled chicken and hot sauces. The chain originated in South Africa. It apparently started out as a small take away outlet in Johannesburg, called Chickenland, run by a Portuguese gentleman named Fernandez. He used his father’s Portuguese recipe for his chicken.

The format is great for families with young children where waiting takes on a whole new meaning. As you arrive you are handed a menu and a table number, and orders are placed at the counter. The food is then delivered to your table. You grab your own cutlery, crockery and obligatory table sauces - peri peri sauces of varying heat.

As regulars we don't need to survey the menu - it's straight in for a 'meal platter' at £16.10 for the two adults in the party to share. It encompasses a whole chicken - half hot, for my other half and not the faint hearted, and half lemon and herb for the lady (me). This is accompanied by a large portion of chips (but they're the healthy variety, cut thick and I think, but don't quote me on it, oven cooked rather than fried).

The soft drinks that come with the meal are bottomless, and especially handy when you are working on a very hot peri-peri chicken. There are also the usual other hot and cold drinks. The wine list was impressive for a chicken outlet, with a wide variety of white and red to choose from.

The children have variations on the chicken strip and burger theme, usually with no peri peri marinadem although they have just started to grow into chilli frame of mind. My, we're proud of their little steps into adulthood. Their 'nandino' meals cost £3.95 and include one regular side dish, which can be chips or rice, coleslaw, corn on the cob or garlic bread with their chicken and yoghurt.

There is a reason the kids love the place and it isn't just the self-service bottomless yoghurt which squirts out like Mr Whippy. It that wasn't enough, the waiters are always friendly to them, bring them balloons and don't show any signs of irritation at their behaviour. They leave that job to me. And have I mentioned the other parental aid - nandino individual fun packs with loads of puzzles and creative fun.

Anyway, there you have it. Home from home for us and since we as Ealing residents kind of have a claim on ownership of the Nando's chicken chain, I feel it my duty to frequent it...frequently.

Charlie Canniff

February 8, 2008