Portsmouth - Damien Review
The one hundred and tenth Nando's is in the Gunwarf Quays retail park in Portsmouth. Beside the sea but off the beaten track, the complex includes tons of shops, as well as bars, restaurants and a viewing platform for tourists (the thing that this entire area was built around). We arrived at 2pm on a Saturday and we're told to come back in 20-25 minutes time. Not too bad, considering there were eight of us and how busy Gunwharf Quays was. I wasn't too impressed when we rushed our drinks in the nearby Slug and Lettuce to get back to Nando's 25 minutes later, only to be told to wait another 5 or so minutes. This second wait wasn't too bad, but there were eight of us and we were waiting between the entrance, tables and kitchen/till area of an already crowded restaurant. We were eventually lead to a table though, a table that you could just about squeeze the eight of us on to.
This Nando's is quite bizarre in that when we passed it earlier, we looked inside and remarked on how surprisingly big it was. Once we were inside, it seemed a lot smaller. perhaps because it was so crowded? There's a large square space filled with tables and booths and a second, smaller area on a balcony upstairs. There are also a bunch of tables outside, but it was drizzling, so nobody was eating out there. The restaurant is relatively clean, but lacks a lot of the little artistic touches Nando's has become known for. The display of artwork is particularly sparse and the route up to the toilets is very dusty. The place just seems a little old and worn here and there. There also wasn't any music playing. Were the speakers broken, or is the manager sick of it? It seems like Portsmouth Nando's could be due a refurb.
The wait at the till wasn't too long, and food started coming out pretty quickly. The only issue I noticed was a plate that wasn't ours being brought to our table. Beside this (and the cock on a stick not being picked up until the end of our meal), the staff were all competent, if a little less friendly than average. The food was good. I redeemed a red reward for a whole chicken, getting it hot to share. The hot was as spicy as I'd usually expect from extra hot and there was plenty of chicken on the bone. The only downer was the garlic bread, which seemed to just lack flavour and texture. Perhaps it was a bad batch, or approaching the use by date?
One small oddity I noticed about this place was that they had small plastic pots of mayonnaise and peri salt at the condiments and cutlery point. Grabbing some of these was a good way to assure we had enough peri on our chips and that we didn't have to send staff running around when we wanted mayo.
In all, the main food was decent and the staff were competent, but little things like the wait, the lack of music and slightly decrepit furnishings let it down.