Birmingham - Grand Central - Ryan Review
Being away I wasn't able to visit this one on opening day - but finally got round to it on the second Friday night it was open. It's in the up-market new Grand Central shopping centre, which is above New Street Station (where The Pallasades used to be). It means it's easy to get to by train (obviously) and there are also plenty of car parks around the City Centre. As with most Centres though, the further out you can park, the cheaper it is - and those that are well-signposted are the most expensive. For example, parking at The Mailbox is £2.50/1hr, £5/2hrs, £6.50/3hrs and up from there. Edgbaston Street is £1.50/1hr, £4/2hrs, £6/3hrs and up. New Street is £2.50/hr. If you are familiar to Birmingham and don't mind a 5-10 minute walk into the centre, then park over by Moor Street Station, where places like Coventry Street, New Canal Street and Bordesley Street offer 70p/hr up to maximum of £2.20 all day parking.
I arrived at this Nando's at about 6:15pm and, despite there being five empty tables downstairs and about 15 upstairs, had a 15 minute wait for a table. I was seated downstairs, which is all rather tight. There are some smallish booth (which can just about get four people in them) on your right hand side, but the rest of the seating is two-four seater tables, which when set as al 2-seaters makes everything far too close together. I had a rather large reared lady knock my sauce bottle over three times when getting in and out... Ooh err. The ceiling downstairs is wooden-clad with some multi-coloured orbs dnagling from it. An all brick wall and the other with five or so large canvas paintings resting on a ledge. Downstairs it certainly isn't "the newest Nando's" decor for sure. Upstairs, where the toilets are, it is better. There are some much larger booths which have coloured beads/blocks on the wooden slats surrounding the booths - and just generally more space and a bit more colour. Unfortunately though, this Nando's does not compare to other newly opened Nando's in my opinion. There's nothing of note to be interested in.
After the wait for the table, 25 minutes passed and once I saw people who ordered after me get their food I had to ask where it was and 37 minutes later the food turned up. Really not sure why though as there remained as many empty tables throughout my sitting, compared with when I was waiting for a tables. Sadly... and I mean very sadly as this is a Nando's in my home town... it was not worth the wait at all. It was the smallest portion of chicken I had received for a while with very little meat on the breast or leg. I can only assume it had been sat under the heat lamps for a while too as it was very dry - not burnt, just very dry inside. I was claiming a free half chicken, so went for three sides of chips, rice and chargrilled veg and all were average sized and all had gone a little cold - especially the chips which were soggy by this point. Such a shame.
With the staff being largely Brummie, they were all friendly, as expected - but were doing the minimum.
Overall, I am sure I'll go back here, just maybe not on a Friday night!