Cambridge - Leisure Park - Damien Review
Nando’s 98 brought us back to the old university city of Cambridge on a super sunny Saturday afternoon. While Cambridge’s first Nando’s sat between high street shops, this newer one was more out of town, in the “Cambridge Leisure” retail complex behind the train station. This complex is basically a huge paved square surrounded by a cinema, bowling alley, gym, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and all the generic chain restaurants you can imagine, Nando’s being one of them.
The three of us arrived at around half five and were given the option of sitting inside or outside. Though the surroundings aren’t exactly picturesque on this side of town, the weather was great, so we chose a table outside and got one at a time to order The restaurant itself is pretty small. Almost every time I walked inside, I had to weave through a large crowd of people between the door and the tills. If the windows to the outdoor area weren’t all open, I’d imagine it’d feel incredibly cluttered and enclosed in there. I ordered last. The girl who served me at the counter was incredibly polite and smiley, but when I asked to redeem an orange reward, I was told that their card system was currently down. This meant that they could still issue chilli points, but could not view or redeem any. This was particularly frustrating, as I was low on money and banking on this free half chicken to make a cheap meal. I instead had to buy by chicken. Confusingly, the receipt did still show the chilly count, with the available orange reward on there. I’m not saying the staff were lying, but there probably could have been a workaround here. Hopefully this isn’t going to be a regular issue with the loyalty card system.
The food all came out super quick, the staff literally rushing it all to the table. We were asked if we wanted anything else, as the cock on a stick got picked from its slot. I asked for mayonnaise, and they’d passed the challenge in under 20 seconds, when the chilled pot came out. The chips were tasty and hot, the halloumi was good, and the chicken portions were large, though very very dry. My breast piece reminded me of times I’d reheated Nando’s chicken at home. It was just very crumbly and lacked the general Nando’s trademark flavour and texture.
After finishing with my food, I had a wander past several open buggies and stacks of high chairs to the toilets. I have to say, these are the worst Nando’s toilets I’ve ever encountered. No electric hand drier (and clearly no staff on toilet duties) meant the bin was overflowing with scrunched up tissues. Pretty much everything else in here was dirty as well. The mirror was messy, the toilet and urinals were all clogged, and I won’t even describe what I saw on the wall. This was a surprise, as (beside the clutter on the way to the toilets) the restaurant itself looks pretty clean. Nando’s toilets are generally well kept, so it’s going to be a shock when you see one this bad, especially considering that the staff in this place all seem so on the ball.
Cambridge Leisure was a swift but ultimately disappointing Nando’s visit.