Food review: Nando's The Brewery, Cheltenham
NANDO'S hit on a winner when they decided to open a chicken-themed restaurant, with a twist, on the British high street.
If I had to choose a favourite meat, it wouldn't be chicken but, having said that, it has got to be the most popular on almost everyone's menu.
It is easy to rustle up lots of different chicken dishes, it's still relatively good value and, while not being the tastiest meat, it is very versatile.
At Nando's the twist is that it is a Portuguese-style restaurant, which means lots of heat and spice and flavour to your chicken.
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You've got to be a fan of chicken to appreciate this chain of eating houses, because there is very little else, but what it does, it does well.
The chicken is all fresh, not frozen, and it is all prepared and cooked fresh on the grill and delivered in record time to your table.
Ever since it arrived at The Brewery around five years ago, Nando's has proved phenomenally popular with all kinds of people from families with kids, couples and groups of young men and woman looking for a cheap, quick meal before heading off to the cinema or into town for the night.
You order your meal at the counter, grab your own cutlery and sauces to complement your meal, including Nando's own range of peri-peri sauces.
Nando's obviously make their money not only by quick turnovers and, to a certain degree, self-service, but also by providing customers with decent, good-value meals. You can choose the heat of your Peri--Peri chicken from mild to extra hot or with a range of fruity flavours such as mango and lime or lemon and herb.
The chicken comes either just plain grilled or as a filling in a variety of ways including burgers, wraps or pitta, and there are a great range of sides to mix and match from chips and mashed potato to beans, peas, salads and corn on the cob.
Kids get their own choice of a chicken burger, wings or fillet strips, with vegetarian burger options as well, and there are never-ending drink refills and a fun frozen yoghurt machine they can make repeat trips to if they have the room.
Although you order your food from the bar, if you suddenly decide you want something else or have forgotten something, you can order it from your waiter without having to queue up all over again.
The drinks list includes a small but decent selection of wines and beers, as well as soft drinks, and there is also a select dessert menu featuring cheesecakes, cakes and ice cream, and a wonderful little Portuguese custard tart called a nata, which is just a couple of mouthfuls of gorgeousness for £1.45 – just what you want after stuffing yourself with chicken and chips.
In these cash-strapped days, one suspects joints like Nando's will continue to go from strength to strength.