At variance is the bright and cheerful faux-Portugese interior, like you've just found out that the Millwall fan has a penchant for flower arranging. It smells of lemon handwipes and barbequeuing chicken. And it's busy, wow is it busy. At 10 past 9 on a Friday night it's heaving with local families and young couples. The atmosphere is bright and loud, there's a queue for the takeout counter and a cluster of kids round the self service drinks machine. Romantic it ain't.
And the food? You come to Nando's for the chicken. And only for the chicken. Coated in marinades of various strengths, it's actually pretty tasty. Sweeter than a jerk sauce and without the sour tang, it soaks through the reasonably tender chuck, working well with the open grill cooking technique, enhanced by the char. It matches RSPCA Freedom Foods standards and likely has better provenance that other local chicken shops, thankfully given the 300 odd outlets they have in this country alone. Sadly though, that's as good as it gets. The chips are soft, doughy and taste of the box they come in, coleslaw is sweet and oily. The overriding sensation is one of sugar. God knows what it'd be like with 20 oz of Coke to finish it off.
Mediocre sides aside, I can't bring myself to dislike Nando's. It's got to be better for you than a Big Mac or a KFC meal, and the place is bright, packed and friendly. It's not somewhere I go that often, but when I do get a craving for spicy chicken, it's not a bad standby.