Camden - James Colom Review
Some of the reviews on this page are quite shocking. This is the only branch I know of where the reviews are consistently poor, and while my 5(ish) visits have all been distinctly average, I was yet to experience anything as bad as what precedes me on this page. However, tonight was my lucky (or not so lucky) night, and I would get to witness Nando's incompetency in full force.
Before I begin the negative onslaught, let me comment on the parking. Given this branch's proximity to the hustle and bustle of Camden Town, parking was surprisingly easy on a Saturday night, right up by Chalk Farm station. This far up, there aren't the ludicrous restrictions of the Camden area (no parking until after 11.30pm?! Thanks Camden council! Though my hatred for the management of this particular borough is a different story...), and you can park on the yellow lines all night long. From here, the branch is only a five minute walk down the road, and perfectly placed to be the precursor for a concert at The Roundhouse; our exact plan on this occasion.
On entry the doorman (who will remain anonymous for this review) advised the wait would be 15 minutes. Obviously we weren't going to go elsewhere, so we accepted and started waiting. After almost exactly 15 minutes various tables began to free up. However, the doorman was too busy speaking to someone to notice. It wasn't until the manager came over and told him he should be seating people that he seated us on one of these tables - not impressed!
There was no queue to order which was a highlight, and I had a free whole chicken, which was of course used to full effect. My girlfriend wanted her half medium, and I wanted my half Extra Hot & Mango and Lime mixed as usual. This order (explained as simply as I have done here) baffled the woman on the till, and she shook her head disapprovingly, said 'okay', and told the griller what I wanted. He looked like he had been told Nando's was closing down, but agreed to the request and produced a whole chicken from the mysterious drawer below the grill. The rest of the order went through with no problem, and the wait began.
After about 15 minutes the food was brought over (for the first time), and it consisted of half a chicken Mango and Lime, and half a chicken Extra Hot, with a decent looking portion of chips in the middle. I told her this was wrong, and she tried to convince me it wasn't. I explained what I had ordered, and she took it back to the kitchen. A highly visible furore between the waitress, woman on the till, and griller ensued, before the waitress returned with the EXACT same food and tried to tell me it was correct. She showed me her copy of the receipt which said 'Medium, Extra Hot, Mango & Lime', fair enough that without the correct instruction these three sauces may be placed incorrectly, however, there was no medium in sight! My girlfriend asked her 'well where's the medium then?!', and she honestly said 'No Medium is the size of the chicken portion'. Now this was simply a sign of sheer incompetence - this waitress, who has passed through the Nando's training system, was trying to tell me that my whole chicken was 'a medium portion'. What?! Firstly, it's a WHOLE CHICKEN, secondly, the word 'Medium' was clearly printed in the sauce section, and anyone who goes to Nando's knows Medium is a flavour of sauce.
At this point I had lost patience with this waitress, and I asked for the manager. The manager was swiftly summoned, and I explained the order to her. 'I do not understand' was her reply. Again, I was astounded at what I had heard. English was clearly not this woman's first language, but I am a clearly spoken, eloquent person, who has never had a problem of this magnitude explaining this order before. Some careful further explanation, and the manager apologised, took the food away, and promised the correct order would be over soon. Ten minutes passed.
A comedian couldn't have come up with what happened next. A whole chicken, half HOT, half MANGO and LIME was brought over, with a fantastic looking portion of chips in the middle (I'm mentioning the chips with good reason). I looked at the waitress with disbelief and questionned how Hot sauce had even been factored into this order suddenly. Finding the situation somewhat amusing, she apologised again and took it back. FINALLY the correct order was brought over (4th time lucky), but with a completely different portion of chips in the middle.
Eating finally commenced, and the chicken wasn't actually that bad. Saying that, the sauce which I had finally acquired was sparse, and the skin a bit burnt. The chips which had ended up in this fourth serving were 'bitty', somewhat soggy, and dumped in the middle of the chicken. This meant the bottom ones were coated in both sauces my girlfriend had not ordered; something which should be provisioned for in my opinion. My rice was cold by this time, though definitely the highlight of the meal - a 3/5.
Perhaps I've gone into too much detail above, but it would be hard to explain this terrible visit in any other way. I was unimpressed, and will seek to avoid this Nando's branch in the future. Kentish Town nearby doesn't fare much better in reviews, so it may be necessary to venture down to King's Cross or Euston for a good fix before gigs in the future. Sorry Camden but you need to step things up!