While out the other night, it was decided to go to Nandos. My girlfriend being South African decided it’d be good, and friend from the area agreed. They do chicken, so how could it really be bad?
Firstly, the restaurant works differently than others I’ve been to. You go in, get seated and the menu is explained. Yup, it even comes with a small section with instructions. In short, you choose what you want, then go up and order it, pay for it, then return to your seat. Little strange but hey, whatever works really.
The menu itself is simple enough, chicken, followed by more chicken, with more chicken. I will admit I was slightly worried about portion sizes. Prices are high enough and the menu did have options of 1/4 chicken, 1/2 chicken, and full chicken, so who knows. Playing it safe (sometimes we have to) I decided on the chicken burger and fries on the side. So far so good, nothing more than the usual “teething problems” with some Irish restaurants.
The turning point
Our food had been ordered and here it comes. Immediately it becomes obvious that portion size wasn’t going to be an issue. I’ve cooked some skinny chicken fillets, however this really was the skinniest I’ve seen, even after I’ve crushed mine in a George Foreman! But alas, if this was the only problem, the day would have passed off with nothing much else.
The real problems began when I started biting into the burger. I had taken two or three bites when I was abruptly stopped my girlfriend. Interrupting a man when he eats, how dare she! But it was with good reason, the far side had a lovely big hair in it. Being as I am, I was intent on removing it and continuing but I’d been convinced to go up and change it, so off I went. Pointed it out to the guy behind the counter who saw it, said ok and agreed to replace it. Back to the table to continue the meal and joke about it.
From bad to worse to what now?
I’m sure everyone has experienced something like this. Mistakes happen. It really isn’t anything big. What was big was the response. A few minutes after sitting down, the manager arrived over to ask had I removed the hair before giving the plate back up. Yup, I took it as a souvenir. Off she went again to look again with the staff while making comments that the chef was bald. She did greet us again shortly after saying they had found it and wanted to fill out a report. Alright, that works. Hell doing a report is probably a good thing. Keep track of such incidents. Having a form ready for it, maybe in McDonalds, and definitely not something to bother the customer about.
When the food did arrive the second time, some 10-15 minutes later, it was fine. Can’t say it was anything spectacular, but then I’m not one who’ll be over joyed by a chicken burger. Outback Steak House any day. It was sans-hair too this time.
My real issue with the repeated visits was that she almost had me doubting if the hair was mine or not and if I’d accidently gotten it into the burger somehow. It was a possibility. Lucky for me, at the end of the meal we were once again greeted by the manager to complete the form and given a refund for my part of the meal. Food only. (For the record, I wasn’t actually looking for a refund. Replace the food and I’d probably already have forgotten about it and only joked about it in passing.) The manager did run through the form again taking some of my details and explaining that the hair could have come from a supplier and they’d want to follow up on all of this. Being through, the hair was selo taped to the form too. This was my saving grace though, the hair – while not a long girls hair – was too long to be mine, even a long hair from my arm!
1 + 1 = 17
I do take some issues with the story given to me. As above, I’d have been happy enough for meal to be replaced and that to have been the end of it. Repeated visits to the table and multiple questions, while it may seem through, it really isn’t. Except for the fact that the meal had been paid for, it would have been the time to walk away and go somewhere else. I doubt this is actually why they ask you to pay first, especially since the place did come recommended. What it did create is someone who won’t go back, and WILL give negative recommendations of Nandos. Don’t get me wrong, the manager isn’t so much at fault. She very much looked like she was following some procedure, and trying really hard to make sure everything was right, almost like she was in someway worried as to the outcome?
Could it have been that Nandos had some pre-existing health safety issues outstanding? Possibly.
- The kitchen is out and exposed.
While this really isn’t always an issue, just look at the Mongolian BBQ where you take your food up and they cook it in front of you, it is a bit of an issue when things are so closely packed and people don’t appear to be washing up between moving from the floor to the cooker area.
- Gloves, what gloves.
While I may have missed this, it really did appear they weren’t wearing gloves in the “kitchen”. I don’t wear gloves while cooking, but I do wash. I didn’t see washing but it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
- Hair net hats.
They did have them, but they didn’t cover all the hair. So really what is the point beyond looking the part?
- Washing washing washing.
I could be making more of an issue than there is here, but in the case of the hair, if it came from a supplier, in say the salad, then why weren’t you washing the salad before use? I’m not a salad eater so if washing salad before use isn’t the done thing, please someone explain why.
An end to end all ends?
While the food wasn’t all too bad, I really can’t see myself visiting Nandos again. Too expensive for not so much food. I’d rather go else where.
It does mark the end of my girlfriend picking restaurants. Last South African place she picked, Spur, ranks up there as the single worst meal ever, closely followed by the Eddie Rockets we went into straight afterwards. That really was just a bad night though and I was happy to get home and have some cereal. You can NOT burn cereal when using cold milk!