Farringdon - Damien Review
Normally, I’m unimpressed and unexcited when I hear about a new Nando’s opening in my home city of London. After all, the place is already teeming with them. With Farringdon, it was a different story. This is less than a five minute walk from where I work, so would be very convenient for a cheeky lunch. In recent years, three Nando’s reachable on my lunch breaks have opened, each of them just a little too far for a comfortable hour long round trip and meal, so I personally welcomed the addition of a restaurant a little bit closer.
I visited with three workmates on a Tuesday afternoon. Having seen how busy it was just after midday last Friday (possibly down to it being newly opened as well as being a Friday), I took no chances and suggested we head there to arrive just after 12. The Nando’s is situated just across from Farringdon tube/train station on a row of shops and cafes. The outside is very small and very minimal-looking, with what I’d imagine is the new signage style for Nando’s. We arrived and were seated towards the back of the ground floor by a very warm and friendly member of staff.
The ground level of the restaurant itself is a pretty confined space. Corridor like, with interesting wall paneling and décor going some way to atone for the fact that it can get pretty congested. Even before half 12 (when customers started rolling in and filling out the place), I could see there was a clear pinch point between the tills, heated food waiting area, and drinks/cutlery station. Being brand new, the place still looks bright, clean and generally great, despite the lack of space they had to work with. To the left of the entrance, there are a row of high chairs against a bar-style seating area (like you’d see in Starbucks or Pret). Presumably these are for lone diners who want a quick meal, an idea they probably extracted from experiencing the lunchtime habits at the other City of London Nando’s?
The four of us ordered separately, each getting chicken on the bone but at various spice levels and with various side orders. The food took fewer than ten minutes to come out (and slightly confusingly, arrived at the table in reverse order of ordering) and nothing was forgotten. The staff kept popping by to the table to make sure we had everything and most of them were seemed genuinely cheery, if slightly on edge (which I’d imagine would be normal to somebody new in their job). They also passed the mayonnaise challenge (I frequently ask for mayonnaise at Nando’s, and more often than not have to ask again or never receive it). The food itself was very good. My chicken breast portion was hot, plump and fresh and the chips and halloumi were done just right. One of my colleagues ordered a quarter chicken and was given leg. He commented that there wasn't much chicken on the bone for the money paid. This is why I’ll always ask for breast when getting a quarter.
By the time we were leaving (at just before 1), the place was pretty crowded. I can see it being a bit hectic feeling, depending when you go and where you’re seated. For this visit, we probably arrived at the perfect time and sat in more or less the perfect place. As mentioned previously, I work close by to this Nando’s, so I’m guessing this won’t be my final word on Farringdon, more a work in progress. Judging from this visit, the opening has been a successful one. They just need to keep it up! Everybody I went with suggested we go back soon, so they already have at least four repeat customers!