You go into McDonald’s and most people will know what to do, what to order, right? Well not always! Despite McD being a massive chain. (Heck, we even have an economic index based on one of its products, the Big Mac index.) Yet, the restaurants are laid out to make it easy for the customer to recognise the flow: order and pay, sit (or take-out), eat, tidy up after yourself.
Following a lovely day at the Science Museum we were meeting a friend in Notting Hill Gate.
We spotted a Nando’s after we parked.
Dadonthebrink popped in to ask if they had a spare table. They did, as it was a relatively quiet Sunday evening. He came back to get us from the car and we followed him in.
Eating out at Nando’s
The waitress pointed to a table for us, a bit tucked away. She didn’t see us in.
We sat down and waited.
… And waited.
… And waited.
There were some menus on the table so we were ready to order and we needed a highchair for Max.
A member of staff stood a meter or so from our table when I spotted his uniform and asked him if he could take our order. He pointed around the corner, not saying anything though. I took this to mean that our waitress was just coming.
We waited a bit longer.
…And a bit more.
Kids were getting really hungry and grating on each other’s (our and fellow dinners’) nerves. Hugo kept asking when he can get a drink, Max was being a little monkey with the salt shakers.
There was a guy clearing a table near us and I asked him:
“Can we place order please?”
He looked at us surprised: ” Is this your first time at Nando’s?” to which we nodded “You need to order at the tills.”
The waiter was about to turn around, when I asked him: “Do I get the high chair at the till too?”
“No. How many do you need?” We had a healthy 6 and 7 year old with us besides the 2 year old. What was this guy thinking?!
“Just one, thank you.” He left and brought a highchair back pretty promptly.
You order at the till
I went to order. The process was straight forward. I was cottoning on that Nando’s might be a restaurant with an identity crisis- it’s really a fast food restaurant, not a dining restaurant. So I approached the till by asking whether I needed to pay immediately.
Yes indeed, you go to order, you pay on ordering.
We ordered a whole chicken, a liver and 10 chicken wings. For each of these we were offered a choice of dressing which ranged from mild to, what I gather is, VERY spicy hot.
Sides of two chips, some coleslaw and a corn on the cob. I asked the corn to be split in 3, and added three soft drinks to the order.
The kids, by this point, were really getting restless. The glasses of water with ice and a dash of our fizzy soft drinks were needed to divert their attention from salt shakers and one another.
Again we waited
Thankfully the guy was clearing the tables near us again, so I asked him:
“Do I need to go and collect my order myself too?”
“No!” – he replied and promptly headed off to check. He was back very soon telling us it was ready in a minute.
The food did arrive soon after. I needed to send the corn on the cob back to get it sliced in 3 as I had originally asked, but it arrived back quickly.
It was lucky we were sitting right next to the cutlery section, as I wouldn’t have, otherwise, known that we have to get our own cutlery and that all the sauces lined up weren’t decorations, but there for self-service. I got everyone cutlery, and chose some of the sauces. Most of the dishes we were sharing and there was a distinct shortage of spare plates on the cutlery counter.
The food was nice. The kids had the wings, which were in no marinade or in a lemon and mango sauce (a gently spicy one). They ate well and enjoyed the food, as did we. The spiciness was nice, just a gentle kick to it.
We had free refills on our soft drinks, so kids kept commuting between the drinks station and our table. That was fun for them.
We finished leisurely. At times we had to convince smallest that not everything was “Ouch! spicy!”, as he was saying that to everything with the slightest bit of flavour. (My super, non-picky eater is developing an aversion to all things with the slightest bit of spice or hotness to them… sad really, as he used to be so adventurous with flavours.)
A quick pit stop followed, hoping that we wouldn’t be stopping every 10 miles on the way home because of all the fluids the kids consumed. (The rest rooms needed a bit of staff attention, but I couldn’t be bothered to tell the staff, as I’d have to have hunted one down or go to the counter.)
What? There’s a Kids’ Meal they didn’t tell us about?
As we were heading out the door Angelina spotted some crayons and some activity sheets too. She took an activity sheet. On it, sitting in the car, we discovered that Nando’s has a kids meal too. Not something that was mentioned at any point during our time in the restaurant. It would’ve been better value with more variety for the kids and included frozen yoghurt, the source of which my kids were forced to look at throughout their meal. I found it really disappointing the option was not pointed out, or highlighted on the main menu!
On this rare evening eating out we had some good food, in a nice enough restaurant/fast food joint.
However, the service was very unimpressive at Nando’s.
From the moment when the restaurant thinks that they are so big and well-known (are they?) that everyone knows how they work, it becomes unwelcoming and confusing for new customers. If it did say on the menu about ordering at the tills, then I totally missed it, as I did with it stating anywhere about a children’s menu.
Nando’s get your act together!
Have you ever been to a restaurant chain where they expected you to know how they operate?
Info: We went to Nando’s at Notting Hill Gate. The cost of the meal was just under £50 for the 3 mains- one a sharing platter-, side of 2 chips, a corn on the cob and a coleslaw. No alcohol, just soft drinks.
Original article Jan 2015; Updated December 2018