Guildford - Damien Review
By pure chance, it’s been tradition over the last few years for the next Nando’s on my list between Christmas and New Year to be just outside London. This year we were visiting Nando’s 84 in Guildford, which is less than an hour away from Waterloo. The four of us arrived in Guildford just after midday, and had a quick drink before crossing the excessive roads to the shopping area which housed the Nando’s. We arrived to find a queue out of the door. On a normal day, this’d mean going elsewhere, but the nearby Wagamama, GBK and YO! Sushi all had a similar line of people waiting outside. Had the entire population of Guildford all decided to go out to eat at the same time? Anyway, we waited for fifteen to twenty minutes in the line, before getting to the actual door of Nando’s. There we had our name jotted down and were told to come back in about 45 minutes. This system could be managed a lot more efficiently, without the need for people to queue in the street for over a quarter of an hour. Oh well. While we waited for our table, we took a look around Guildford. The shops, the river, and a National trust listed shed. We popped back in the Nando’s after around half an hour, and our table was ready!
The restaurant itself had a refit a couple of years ago, so looks fresh and interesting, with lots of inventive light fittings. It’s split over two floors, with the first floor being about half the size of the ground floor, and then the looks being way up in the rafters, another two or three floors above. While the place was absolutely heaving with people, it wasn't particularly noisy. Maybe the folk of Guildford aren't that loud, or maybe this place is just acoustically designed better than most Nando’s?
It looked like we were going to have to queue for ages at the counter, but the huddles of people around the tills were actually just all waiting for tables. A pram was placed in front of the only open service point, which was messy and inconvenient at best, and a safety hazard at worst, but the till staff made up for this oversight by being friendly and efficient. I’d barely been back to the table for five minutes when the food came out. Despite us all ordering separately, there was no huge gap between the four plates arriving, also, nothing was missing. The food was pretty good. All very fresh and hot. The extra hot half chicken could have done with being a bit spicier, but that’s nothing some sauce wouldn't fix.
My main memory of this Nando’s will actually be of the girl who took our name down. Not only was she managing the queue at the door, she was cleaning and preparing tables, organising the sauces and cutlery, and bringing out food. I mentioned that she was all over the place to the others, looked up, and she was at the complete opposite side of the restaurant to where I’d seen her not five seconds earlier. Maybe she was teleporting?
Overall, despite the sketchy start where we had to line up in the street, Guidlford Nando’s clawed it back and was well above average throughout. I wonder if all the other chain restaurants with queues are just as good?