Dudley - Damien Review
Our first Nando’s trail trip of the year brought us to number 96 in Dudley. Five of us took a Saturday morning train to Dudley Port, which is the nearest station to Castlegate Leisure Park, which houses the restaurant. Castlegate is neither near the station, or the town centre, but a full mile of walking down a straight but pretty boring road. There are several local bus routes that run from Dudley Port to Castlegate, but we had plenty of time to spare, so decided to walk, eventually arriving at the expected cinema/bowling alley/Nando’s car park.
At Nando’s we met up with two local friends, bringing our group to seven. I had been given a bit of insider info on the place before arriving and was told they take phone bookings for groups of four and over. A few days before the visit, I gave Nando’s a ring, and was told that they don’t take bookings at weekends (something I was later informed was untrue). Oh well. Despite the warnings that it’d be crazy busy due to big new cinema releases and the proximity of Valentines Day, I figured we’d be fine. I’ve never worried about getting a table at Nando’s before, why start now? As expected, we were greeted at the door to the almost full and very noisy restaurant, then told there’d be a 45 minute wait. The guy then came back to take my name and tell us we should get a drink, as it’d be a long wait. A minute later he asked again if we wanted to get a drink. Not even another two minutes had passed, when another employee came over to show us to our table. This dreaded 45 minute wait was not even a 5 minute wait. Very impressive, considering the previous warnings I’d been given and the fact that the place was so busy.
The restaurant itself looks pretty big from the outside, but less so inside. Perhaps this was down to the vast quantity of Saturday diners. While not having any exceptionally fantastic or original interior design, the place still looks pretty good. Bright and airy, with an unfortunate panoramic view of the surrounding car park. We were seated on a long table beside the window, with a few other large groups of customers pushed up pretty close. When we began to order, I was surprised that there was no queue. The sudden queue obviously took the staff by surprise as well, as it grew and grew behind us, as just a single member of staff dealt with it.
Despite the staggered ordering, our plates came out in quick succession, and everything was as it should be (bar a slightly cold ear of corn without butter on my plate). I can’t entirely place it, but the food just seemed fresher. The whole chicken, the mash, everything was done like it should be. I’m well aware of the Nando’s cooking/preparation process, so see no reason why Dudley would be particularly better than other places, but it is. This was an almost unanimous opinion across the table (with orders including chicken burgers, steaks and a cross-section of the sides).
The only real downside of the place was the noise. While it got a bit quieter as some of the surrounding tables were vacated, it still seemed very frantic and noisy in there for the duration of our stay. On the other hand, the table staff were all friendly and on the ball and the food was great. While the surrounding area is a little bleak, Dudley Nando’s is top notch!