On leaving Springfield Mall, I smelled the heavenly aroma of something grilling and realized it was coming from Nando’s Peri-Peri. But we were about to get in the car so later that day, my daughter and I went to the Old Town branch which was closer. It’s situated in the historic district so parking was a bit difficult. We had to park a few blocks away.
When we entered, we were greeted right away but a friendly server. Nando’s does things a little different. We were offered a choice of free appetizers for being newcomers and we chose the Spicy Mixed Olives. We were given menus and seated and then we had to get up and go to the desk and make our order. The server rang up our choices and we paid and sat back down again. It was like a fast food/sit-down hybrid. It just feels like a lot of movement for me but I guess if you’re a regular and already know what you want, you can go straight to the desk. Or you look online at read their menu.
The décor was minimal but it did give a feel of something different, ethic without particularly pointing to a specific culture, more like a blend of several. The arrangement was roomy, which I like but I found the seats to be a bit low because I’m a short person. There was a second floor but I didn’t go up there.
According to Nando’s their cuisine is a mixture of Portuguese and African. Nando’s is known for their flame-grilled Peri-Peri chicken, which is marinated overnight. This spicy chicken dish was created in Angola and Mozambique when Portuguese settlers brought with them chili peppers which are called piri-piri in Swahili. The chicken is butterfly-cut and cooked over an open flame. Their chickens are fresh with no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. They also trim the excess fat before cooking. In addition to their chicken, they serve salads, sides, and desserts.
Because I’m trying to be good I ordered the boneless chicken breast basted with mango-lime sauce with garlic bread. My daughter had the quarter chicken (leg and thigh) and a side of macho peas and Peri chips (fries). I was a bit disappointed at the size of the chicken breast I got (must have been a small chicken) and it was also a bit on the dry side. I had to ask for some peas from my daughter to make my food slide down. It tasted fine but it was a bad idea to get grilled chicken breast. The garlic bread was huge in proportion to the chicken. So I doused my food with some mild sauce which had some lime it.
For dessert we ordered the Naughty Natas. It’s their version of a traditional Portuguese tart. It’s made of egg custard baked in flaky, pastry cups. They were delicious but tiny. One piece per order so literally just a bite or two. If I were to go back to Nando’s I think it would be better to order their Full Platter, which consists of a whole chicken with a choice of two large sides. It turns out to be easier on the wallet and I bet the bone-in chicken would be juicier than what I had eaten.