Photo by: Ginny Sanderson

Photo by: Ginny Sanderson

Waiting in the queue, the ambiance buzzing with chicken-oriented anticipation, it was clear to us that this venue was a sought-after one. A cult classic. The scene was set: a homely terracotta-coloured and fowl-oriented aesthetic greeted us. We were escorted to our seats next to – score! – a group of mothers and their babies.

Finally, the immortal question was asked: “have you been to Nando’s before?” Have I been to a Nando’s before? The question was somewhat insulting, a raw chicken breast slap to the face; how could I, a seasoned aficionado, be mistaken for an amateur? I proceeded, however, unperturbed, ordering my chosen dish with disguised gall.

We then followed the ancient tradition of making the catwalk – channeling Dave of MoneySuperMarket fame – to the ‘drinks, condiments, cutlery, napkins with sexual innuendos and straws’ section. I selected my prized combination of Fanta and Coke zero, he a mere Coke. To the uninitiated, Fanta and Coke (or Foke/Canta, if you will) is a sublime marriage of zesty and refreshing delight.

Photo by: Ginny Sanderson

Photo by: Ginny Sanderson

Within a snap of fingers, as though the food had been materialised like a Hogwarts banquet and not from a microwave (jokes), it arrived.

I went for the Halloumi and Portobello Mushroom Burger, with Peri Peri Chips. He, the Butterfly Chicken, accompanied with Chips and a side of Halloumi. We were loving the halloumi that day.

Photo by: Ginny Sanderson

Photo by: Ginny Sanderson

The mushroom burger was, as ever, hearty, accomplished, a delectable blend of flavour (medium heat, if you want to know) and texture (the chewy halloumi with the slick mushroom).

Having said this, it was a monster to eat.

The natural properties of the huge mushroom (slimy, one might say) mean that it is a devil to keep in the bun. This challenge is made worse by the fact it keeps dripping everywhere. Try and eat with your hands, and you are defeated. ‘I know,’ you think smugly, ‘I’ll use my knife and fork!’ More fool you, this, too, cannot be done. In short, eating this dish neatly is like trying to simply walk into Mordor. If you’re on a date, I recommend (no, demand!) you swap the burger for the wrap or pitta, which are preferable in terms of not getting it all over yo’ face. Unless you really don’t like your date.

The butterfly chicken was “THE BEST THING THAT HAS ENTERED MY MOUTH,” noted my eating partner. Not really, he said it was “quite good.” Praise indeed from such a tricky customer.

Did we have deserts? Alas, we were too full from our sumptuous mains for that nonsense. Nonetheless, from previous experience I can wholeheartedly recommend the chocolate cheesecake, with clotted cream of course.

So, the next time you want to step out of your comfort zone and wrap your tongue (that imagery though) around some authentic, atleast above-average cuisine, look no further than Nando’s. And spread the word, these guys need all the publicity they can get. And my do they deserve recognition for their art.

Food: 20/10

Atmosphere: 17/15

Chickeniness: 200/12