Nando’s, Loughborough

You’ve seen one Nando’s restaurant, you’ve seen them all right? Well to some extent yes, maybe that’s right but I have to say that the Nando’s in Loughborough was much better than one I previously visited in Leicester – which until this point put me off ever visiting another one. The problem with the one at Leicester was the staff – who left our meals going cold on the side while they talked to each other and checked their phones instead of doing what they were being paid (admittedly perhaps minimum wage) to do.

When this Nando’s opened in the new cinema complex ‘eatery hub’ in my home town then I thought I could go at least once just to add to my tally of the new chains I have eaten at recently (and perhaps because the wholly unoriginal idea of starting up this blog was beginning to take shape).

So I toddled along one Sunday for lunch – Siggy was off being sporty for the day. I arrived just after 12 and found the place was not busy and the staff to be very friendly and welcoming. On the menu I found a good selection of beer, wine and hot drinks but no cocktails. In the absence of any draft beer, I ordered a 330ml bottle of 2M beer from Mozambique which was a light fizzy lager. I can’t comment much on the taste because I was so hot after walking I lobbed a load of ice into it.

I got asked for ID when I ordered the beer. If you’ve seen my photo in the About section you’ll realize how ridiculous a request that was. I think the girl behind the counter realized, once I’d stopped laughing, that I was well over the legal age to buy alcohol and so let it pass. Good job because I could’ve walked if I couldn’t get a beer. It’s happened before (in a curry house in Edinburgh) and I’m sure it’ll happen again before I sidestep off this mortal coil.

The menu at Nando’s obviously revolves around chicken, with a few token veggie options and a handful of salads and wraps. Feeling positively peckish after 40 minutes of perambulation, I ordered half a chicken with hot sauce, peri chips and macho peas.

Sadly, the scrawny chicken was not as succulent as the rotisserie chicken I recently enjoyed at the Copt Oak (more about that restaurant in another post some time). The hot sauce had a good kick to it but the chicken seemed to have more skin and bone than white meat. The sparingly seasoned chips were cooked okay but nothing special and any flavour the macho peas had was overpowered by my choice of sauce on the chicken. The sauce was good – delivering just the right chilli buzz for me without burning my mouth or stomach too much.

Funky African (or Portuguese?) pop music was playing and the inside of the restaurant had a relaxed vibe. Maybe if it was busier I’d be commenting on the noise level again, but the tables were reasonably spread out so I wasn’t able to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations (I was on my lonesome remember).

The desserts were all reasonably priced but maybe that’s because the portion size is small? I had a nata – a traditional Portuguese custard tart – with nice crisp and flaky pasty and gooey rich custard. If it had been hot instead of lukewarm it might have been an excellent pudding and a compensation for an iffy main.

All told better than Leicester but not anything to rave about imo.