Rosettenville - James RYN Review
Finally! 7 years after my first trip to Johannesburg, I made it to the world's first ever Nando's in Rosettenville. This historic visit is worthy of a slightly longer review than normal, so bear with me:
The first question to answer is why did it take so long to make it here? Well let's say that to put it nicely, Rosettenville in the 2010s isn't exactly the nicest part of town. Ask any Joburg native and the overwhelming consensus is to avoid the area completely, and if you do come at all, come during daylight hours and get out as quickly as possible. I had always heeded these warnings, and mostly only been free to visit this iconic restaurant in the evenings (after sunset), hence hadn't visited at all. Here for the first time I found myself available to visit during daylight hours, so I proceeded to leave all my valuables in the hotel safe, found the oldest, shabbiest looking shorts I had with me, and loaded them up with my phone (for GPS), credit card, driving license, and some small change; I was ready to go!
After the 25 minute drive from Rosebank, through some pretty rough looking parts of town, the Nando's was in sight. Luckily we were able to leave the car right outside the front door (parking isn't exactly strict around here), and jump right into the restaurant without drawing any attention to ourselves. I don't think I have ever marked a Nando's as 'Empty' before, but it is fair to say we were the only people in the entire restaurant. The restaurant itself definitely shows its age! It was clean, but the decoration left something to be desired; perhaps having not been updated since the 1987 grand opening. Despite this, there were some unique features to inform patrons of the establishment's significance, best appreciated in the photos I have uploaded to accompany this review. These include a sign above the till saying where Nando's is around the world (actually rather out of date with places like Lagos and Tel Aviv still listed!), a gallery by the staircase with a timeline of world history since 1987, and even what looked like a training centre upstairs, for when Nando's do their famous company trips.
As for the meal experience, which was arguably the least important aspect of this visit strangely, everything went well. Ordering was easy given the restaurant was completely empty, and the food was with us in about 10 minutes. Food itself was a slightly mixed affair: my chicken pitta didn't have very much chicken in it, and I was quickly reminded how much spicier Extra-Hot sauce is here compared to the UK. However, my wife said her quarter chicken was far superior to anything she had ever been served in the UK, with it being something more akin to a rotisserie style deli chicken, with super succulent texture and flavour. The staff meanwhile did everything expected of them, so a solid 3/5. Unfortunately we didn't see anyone who looked like a manager to speak to and tell about the website.
After the food we decided it was probably best to leave as soon as possible. First I wanted to get a photo outside, but things quickly became very uncomfortable when getting my phone out in the street. So the best we have is a slightly distant shot from the car window as we were leaving.
Overall, this is clearly a must-visit Nando's for any intrepid Nandoer with a sense of history. I'd suggest not to be completely put off visiting the area by any locals you may ask. Just be sensible, leave valuables at home, go in daylight hours, park close, and you'll be fine. Will I return? Hard to tell, but Marc still needs to visit and maybe I would be here to escort him!