Maidstone - James Colom Review
Finally my 100th branch! I couldn't let the occasion go unrecognised, so I thought I would travel a bit further from home. I had a play with our new directions page LINK and narrowed it down to Norwich, King's Lynn, Peterborough, Canterbury, Bluewater and Maidstone; all towns I either haven't visited in a long time or at all. Wikipedia's page on Maidstone made it look quite nice, so that was the choice. I was on my way to my 100th branch!
The layout of the town reminded me a lot of Guildford: large pedestrianised shopping area, surrounded by an annoying one way system and a few overpriced multi-storey car parks which are a nightmare to find spaces in. As a result, parking cost me £3.60 for 3 hours and was a medium walk away in the House of Fraser car park.
The Nando's itself is spread across three floors; two for the restaurant and one for the toilets. The setup is similar to St Albans and Brent Cross in that orders can be taken on both floors, and each floor is managed individually. Since my visit was during a weekend lunch time, there was inevitably a wait for a table, though only about 10 minutes. There was however a slight issue in that some people who came in after us were seated first, and I noticed that we were sat before a party of two who arrived before us.
At this point I introduced myself to the manager Jo, who was delighted I had selected her branch for my 100th! Ordering was quick and easy in the upstairs area, and the food arrived in about 15 minutes (which was quite good considering how long food can sometimes take in branches this busy). During the wait we took in the decor, which is pleasant, but not outstanding. Everything was very clean though, so I'm giving it a 3.5 rather than a 3.
Now for the food, which was great! Definitely worthy of my 100th branch. The chips were piping hot and coated evenly in just the right amount of peri spice, rice wasn't too dry and garlic bread was covered in garlic (though only luke warm). The double wrap I opted for tasted excellent, and the chicken was tender and just the right spice level. The composition of the wrap was almost perfect, except for some slight collecting of the chilli jam at one end.
Throughout the meal the staff were very attentive, and seemed to genuinely care about how the meal was. This in contrast to some branches, where you can't help but feel they really don't care when they ask.
Overall, I was very impressed with Maidstone, and would definitely recommend it. Unfortunately returning anytime soon may be difficult given how far away it is from where I live (a good 70 miles each way). Oh well! There are still another 900(ish) Nando's to visit...