Goodge Street - Damien Review
Nando’s 99 brought me back to central London’s Goodge Street for my second visit of the year, my fifth or sixth visit in all. Seven of us met up at a busy nearby pub, then wandered over there just before 7pm. We weren't instantly greeted at the door, but eventually somebody came over with a pained expression on his face. I asked for a table for seven and he just shook his head. “No”. I’ve been to Nando’s a hell of a lot of times, and have never straight up been told “no” at the door. I then basically had to hold the guy’s hand and lead him through his job. When I asked him how long it’ll be for a table, he suggested we go to a different Nando’s instead. I insisted that we wanted to eat at Goodge Street Nando’s (after all, none of the other restaurants are Nando’s 99) and he said it’ll be 20 or 30 minutes (not too bad, if you ignore the fact that the place wasn't actually very packed). I then asked him if he wanted to take my name down, prompting him to look for the clipboard that I knew must exist. After my name had reluctantly been jotted down on the empty piece of paper, we trotted off to another local pub, returning about half an hour later.
I’ve probably said it about this place before, but it always feels very enclosed, confined and stuffy. The ceilings seem low and the layout leaves very little room for movement. We were seated on a circular table next to a window at the front, so got a better experience of the place this time. We all got up and ordered, myself opting for the new (expensive) fino platter. The girl at the till seemed all over the place, but eventually stayed still for long enough to listen to my single item order. Turned out that they didn’t had the Mediterranean veg in, one of the items that makes up this new platter. She told me I could have any other (fino) side though, so I picked sweet potato mash. The staff at the grill almost didn’t allow this, but eventually the order got put through and I paid up. Almost every time I’ve been to Goodge Street Nando’s, they’ve been out of something that I’d wanted. Maybe it’s just bad luck, but maybe it’s a general lack of attention that this place gives to stock replenishment.
Food was pretty quick. Some people had their full meals already on the table by the time I got back from the tills and my platter took under fifteen minutes to arrive. It looked fancy, the chicken being all in one piece and everything. The various parts of it all went quite well together, but I don’t think a pre-written order will ever beat picking and choosing the specific sides you want, and the price point of £23.95 doesn't exactly offer a great saving or value for money. The specific list of ingredients also introduces too many points of failure, as I experienced on this visit.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Goodge Street Nando’s is desperately crying out for a refurbishment. Maybe a brighter, airier and more spacious restaurant will go some way to wiping the constant frowns of the faces of the staff here. Until this happens, I’ll give you the same advice that the guy on the door gave me. Go to a different Nando’s.