Stamford Street - James RYN Review
I've been following the build-progress of this new Nando's for a couple of months now, and it was a shame to not make it on opening day. The next day had to do, and my first visit was quite a mixed bag; mainly due to teething troubles.
The area itself doesn't need much of an introduction. It's about a 5 minutes walk from Waterloo station, 10 from Southwark, and 10/15 from London Bridge (though if at London Bridge definitely check out Clink Street branch). I visited at quite a quiet time (about 5.30pm on a weekday), but I'm guessing this branch will get packed out during lunch hour due to the proximity to local businesses. I know that I'll be visiting quite a bit when my company moves to the nearby Blue Fin building.
The branch itself is big! One of the biggest in Central London I reckon. It takes up the whole ground floor of a block on the street, and has a large outside area along the front perimeter, which looks like it will be very pleasant come summer. The decoration reminded me of a cross between the new Great Portland Street branch and One New Change; differing a bit from the Nando's norm (but in style with recently opened branches), with corrugated iron on the walls, and different chairs and benches depending on which part of the restaurant you are in. The toilets had some interesting design on the doors, and were spotless on my visit. Our table was very clean and nice and new, so it didn't have sticky varnish on it like at other branches - a welcome change!
As for the staff, they did their job well and were clearly making as much effort as possible given how new the branch was. That said, both Nandocas I dealt with on the till were having trouble, and I felt the training perhaps should have been more thorough before opening. The manager on duty was a friendly chap who I've met before at the Clink Street branch. We had a chat, and I know he's looking forward to this review going live!
Now for the most disappointing part of this visit: the food. Given that a 2/5 is 'Quite disappointing' and 1.5 is 'very disappointing', I'd have to say this meal fell somewhere inbetween. This was mainly due to the chicken, and I'll first say that the sides were of reasonable 3/5 quality, and my girlfriend was pleased with her dessert. The chicken was a different story, and perhaps the most mild Extra-Hot I have ever had. To top it off, there was very little sauce and the breast was dry. We were sharing a whole chicken and my girlfriend was equally disappointed with her medium half. In addition, the chicken was noticeably smaller than others I could see being served nearby. This was a real shame since I'd love to give this branch a top first rating! One final issue with the food was that the branch had run out of Mango & Lime sauce (which I love mixed with Extra Hot). I later heard mentioned on a nearby table that the branch was also out of beer; I'm guessing this was due to an apparently ridiculously busy opening day, but it would be nice to see some unity between nearby Nando's branches (especially in this part of London), and them somehow getting some extra sauce and drinks in stock!
Overall, this branch has the potential to be a real winner once the staff are better trained, and if the food improves. Hopefully it doesn't take long, with the legendary Clink Street branch so close. I'll no doubt be returning, though currently my main reason would be due to the location.