Stoke - Intu Potteries - Ryan Review
So the wait is finally over and Stokies have their Nando's! No more driving to Derby, Manchester or Birmingham... they can instead all go "up Hanley Duck"... and up Hanley I'm sure they will go in their thousands! Thanks to the very kind chap Jim, I got to go to one of the practice days just before this Nando's opened.
This Nando's is in the new "The Hive" section of the Potteries centre, and is joined by Cineworld and other eateries. In the Potteries itself are most other high-street chain shops you'd expect to find in any shopping centre. There are 1200 parking spaces at the Potteries - and during the day it is a tad expensive (priced at £1.20/hr Mon-Sat 8am-4pm), but from 4pm-midnight (when the centre closes) Mon-Sat it is priced at just £1 for the whole stay. Sundays are priced at £1.50 for the whole day. During the day if you fancy a short stroll, then you can park for a couple of hours for free at Sainsbury's (on Etruria Road) or Tesco's (on Broad Street). Stoke-on-Trent train station is under 1.5 miles walk away.
As for Nando's, what a nice bright Nando's it is. There are some finishing touches to go in here that were not in place just yet - like the full glass banister to go behind the railings on the stairs, the colourful backs to some of the booths/banquettes, a few extra canvas paintings on the walls and, around March next year - where there is currently a honeycomb pattern on the wall behind the stairs, the local firm used for all of Nando's' plates is going to produce a big pattern/mural of some kind. In addition to all these touches what is already in place is very nice.
Together with 12 or so tables outside, this Nando's is spread across two floors. Upstairs are the toilets (which were spotless and clad in blue/black/green square tiles) and half a dozen or so tables in the windows with the main bulk of the seating downstairs. Upstairs the only wall is painted bright yellow and decorated with 50+ small canvas paintings - with the lighting being made of these cocoon like shades. Downstairs, being the restaurant closest to the new Cineworld, then it is well equipped to deal with many large groups. There are plenty of larger four/six-seater tables and a few booths, including one large green-leather circular booth, which can easily fit 8 people. There are bright yellow tiles on the wall behind the drinks station - which is one of the new electronic dispensers. The standout features are the ceiling and lighting though. The ceiling is largely made up of copper-coloured wooden slats in a honeycomb pattern with lots of different lighting hanging from it. This includes large wicker balls, circular hoops with LED strips around them (which are hooked onto a large tree branch) and a large collection of upside painted terracotta pots.
Given the restaurant was packed, the food came quickly and in under 10 minutes - and it was delicious. I had a portion of half a chicken that was grilled perfectly, steaming hot and moist with plenty of sauce, along with a large portion of chips and rice that were both steaming hot. The chicken portion was perhaps only slightly bigger than average, but the whole meal was wonderful.
The biggest stand-out of this branch for me, however, were the staff. All of them were buzzing, cheerful and chatty and we were checked on by no fewer than six different people - all who were wanting to stop and have a little chat and open to show how excited they were. A real good atmosphere indeed.