Nando’s Peri-Peri

Written by on January 21, 2012 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Washington, DC

How I heard of this place: I first learned about Nando’s when I lived in South Africa in the late 1990s. I hadn’t realized they were also known in the USA, until our friend, Seraj suggested picking up dinner there, using his Groupon.

Type of cuisine: Nando’s Peri-Peri is the home of Portuguese flame-grilled PERi-PERi Chicken. Our Chickens are: • Only the freshest, and never frozen • Marinated for 24 hours in our natural PERi-PERi sauce • Grilled to order over an open flame to reduce fat content • Basted to your taste to control the spiciness and served as you want it. Choose your heat: There are many ways to enjoy our chicken. Whether it be flame-grilled to order or as a breast fillet in a Portuguese roll, toasted pitta or wrap, you always get to choose the baste to your own taste, whether that be lemon & herb for the less spicy option, medium for the more adventurous or hot and extra hot for the real daredevils! Nando’s Peri-Peri chicken is always healthy. As part of a well balanced diet it’s just as tasty as on a reckless uncontrolled binge! Flame-grilling the chicken means it loses lots of its fat. Nando’s Peri-Peri menu provides a varied choice of healthy but delicious options which makes eating out healthily easy.For more information, check out the nutrional data on our menus, gluten free menu and allergens table. However, we don’t always take things too seriously! Our ‘Love Life, Love Nando’s’ philosophy encourages you to enjoy delicious, fresh food!

Ambiance: We live according to a set of values which are core to everything we do. They are pride, passion, courage, integrity and family. They help us deliver a truly great Nando’s experience. Our aims are genuine but we don’t take ourselves too seriously and our fun approach to life means when you visit Nando’s you can fully relax without airs and graces. This attitude is not just reflected in our restaurants. We are always looking to share our values throughout the communities of our local Nando’s restaurants.” Off of a busy street corner, Nando’s intricate iron-worked door and windows immediately caputure the attention of passerby. The umbrellas over outdoor patio seating take a backseat on this cold, winter night, but inside the lights are warm, the space cozy and the ample artwork intriguing. We made our way through the intricately carved wooden door frame, through the wrought iron gate, and entered the unassuming, expansive space at 1210 18th Street NW Nando’s Peri-Peri. Inside the foyer and immediately to our right was a captivating wall, designed in what resembled sandwork, extending from the floor to high ceiling. We entered the glass door, complete with Nando’s chicken logo in white, amidst glass windows looking into the establishment, to be greeted with a brick wall straight ahead, and even higher ceilings. The wall holds brightly colored paintings from what can only be a dozen or more South African artists. Everything from small prints to large canvases graced each wall space, and attracted the attention of every patron, dining in or taking away. Sculpture art could also be enjoyed, as oversized terra cotta vases with large curled, swiveling and wavy pieces of what resembled petrified wood extended upwards, over seven feet tall. The hardwood floor led eyes from the floor-to ceiling store-front windows, towards the back and up the stairs of this grand restaurant. Seating varies from light-wooden-colored tables and chairs (sqqure tables that can be made into circles) and 1960s kitchen chairs in wood, to intimate, private booth seating with red, faux-leather cushions at the back and seat bottom. Story snippets are lined along the more plain walls in a wave pattern, which also attracts attention and adds vibrant life to the space. One such story rests on the wooden planked wall behind the area where one can help him- or herself to the array of sauces, dresings, eating utensils and wet wipes on the shelf and rustic, country home style wooden counter below. More oversized vases are kept above the chalkboard menu over the cash register and kitchen/grill area, reaching almost to the industrial ceiling, filled with beams, lights, chain. As we make our way towards the back of the establishement, and up the staris to the loft seating, we notice a young man washing his hands at a sink, in the middle of the restaurant. The walls of the stairwell, leading up to the balcony are also decked with paintings. Upstairs, to our right is a small room with quiet seating. Patrons dine amidst bottles and bottles of Nando’s sauces, behind a warehouse-style, connected, square-shaped glass windows. More booth seating lines the right side of the walkway, leaving the left open to view the restaurant kitchen below. Diners at the far end sit at tables against the windows looking out onto the street. An intricately Victorian tiled ceiling gives way to more modern lights to hang from it, while our thick, varnished, wooden tables look like they could be in a Bar & Grill. Table numbers are designated with wooden trays indicating the table number, complete with holes for salt and pepper shakers, as well as menus with further reading information about Nando’s. One such menu boasts, “If Andy Warhol had done menus…we reckon ours would like like this! Our ‘impression’ is just a bit of fun, but at Nando’s real art is taken very seriously. We commission original works (check them out on the walls around you) from South African artists. With amazing work by everyone from bushmen on community farms to renowned Johannesburg patiners, our collection of more than 3,000 works is distinctly diverse. We also helped an independent studio set up a subsidized diploma course for aspiring artists. Successful students’ work is considered for the Nando’s collection. the artists achieve recognition and you have something great to look at while you’re eating!

What I ordered: Having three hungry people, who can each eat, we ignored the sandwiches, salads and appetizers on the menu, and went straight to the Peri-Peri Chicken: the Nando’s specialty, with fresh (never frozen) all-natural chicken, marinated with the unique Nando’s Portuguese Peri-Peri spice and flame-grilled to order. We ordered the Jumbo Platter ($46.45) for two whole chickens: one with Lemon & Herb flavor, and the second with Hot (eye-wateringly fiery for chilli fiends only). The four large sides that accompanied our meal were the: Garlic Bread (baked Portuguese roll smothered in garlic and herb butter), Macho Peas (rugged pea mash with whole peas, parsley, mint and chilli), Chips (aka Fries with Peri-Peri salt), and Portuguese Rice (spicy yellow rice with peppers and herbs). (We actually ordered the Red Skin Mashed Potato (garlic butter, potatoes and a whole lot of yummy), but were given the spicy rice instead.) On the side, we took samples of their garlic, herb, medium, hot, extra hot and extra extra hot sauces for sampling and for added kick (as needed).

What I loved: The chicken was very moist and light. The flavor lingered mostly on the skin, which I always remove prior to eating, so the chicken itself, lacked in the spice factor that was promised. But the flavor, the juiciness and the filling capacity were unbeatable! Of the sides, the mashed peas intrigued all of us, the chips reminded me of South Africa and the garlic bread was gloriously large and buttery. The spicy rice was left nearly untouched as the taste for mashed potatoes remained.

Why I loved it: Yummy. Artsy. An excellent nostalgic reminder of my time in South Africa.

Cost: Average ($6.25-$12.85 per entree)

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