Restaurant Review: Table for One at Nando’s, Stevenage
There was a time in my past where I wouldn’t even consider dining alone, for fear of being judged as to why I’m not with anyone. Would they think I had no friends, or that I am wasting a table that could accommodate more than just I? Whatever the reason, it’s not something I did, until I stopped caring. I didn’t stop caring about everything, just about certain things, and a table for one is something that stopped giving me those dreaded feelings of anxiety.
So this brings me to today, Wednesday 27th December 2017, and with my car in the garage for its MOT I found myself with some time on my hands and the Nando’s in the new Stevenage Debenhams about to open. I almost uttered the phrase time for a cheeky Nando’s, but managed to stop myself, and instead question why having a Nando’s is cheeky, and what made a trip to Nando’s cheeky, or are all visits cheeky? Anyway, on entering said Nando’s I was greeted by Wayne (it tells me so on the receipt) who I think was the manager, while the rest of the team sat around a table near the counter. He made me feel very welcome, and didn’t give me any so why are you alone? looks. I scored a nice table for 2 equidistant from the counter and the condiments/cutlery/drinks area – result.
I’m a fussy eater, so when menus change I get plunged into a minor panic, but I’ve always been able to to find something I like on the Nando’s menu, and today was no different. Feeling brave I went for a brand new offering called the Fino Pitta, and this how it is described:
Indulge in a toasted pitta filled with two flame-grilled PERi-PERi chicken thighs, grilled halloumi cheese, caramelised red onion relish and wild garlic aioli mayonnaise, topped with lettuce.
Halloumi and caramelised onion I adore, and the absence of anything such as peppers made this an easy decision. I am relatively new to chicken thighs though, as in the past I’ve not wanted anything other than breast meat. The slightest sign of pink chicken meat usually sends my head into an unrecoverable tailspin, but in the past 2 years I’ve gotten past that and can appreciate that some parts of the chicken are a little pinker, and not due to them being undercooked as I always imagined. Ordering was easy and quick, and so back at my table I had time to look around the restaurant which was very clean, well laid out, and not too bright, so that even though it was big, I didn’t feel like I was sat alone in a vacuous space.
My food arrived in mere minutes and looked delicious. The pitta was full to bursting with great hunks of chicken and the caramelised red onion relish was oozing out invitingly. I first thought to pick it up but that was never going to work, not unless I had suddenly been granted the ability to unhinge my jaw. Biting into the first mouthful I could taste the relish, combining really well with the medium strength sauce I had chosen. The halloumi was melted just right and was not too thick so it didn’t overpower the chicken itself. With the fresh coolness of the lettuce, I’d say the Fino Pitta was a pretty perfect taste combination for me. I had chips as my side, which were all cooked well and with an accompaniment of vinegar and ketchup, finished things off beautifully.
Unusually for me, I went for am unlimited refills Diet Coke, which I took advantage of twice, glugging down three glassfuls in total. I say unusually as possessing the world’s smallest bladder* I don’t usually drink much aside from water when I’m about and about. I had spied a salted caramel brownie on the menu, and whilst it’s become almost mandatory for eating establishments to offer something that is salted caramel flavoured, I don’t mind as I’m a big fan. It has to be done well though, as some proport to be salted caramel but I’m left wondering if they have ever seen the flavouring, let alone used it. Well, Nando’s salted caramel brownie does live up to the name and was beautifully moist too, just the way I like my brownies.
Fino Pitta and Chips – £8.95
Unlimted Refills Diet Coke – £2.60
Salted Caramel Brownie – £2.50
Total Cost: £14.05
Three glasses of Diet Coke, a main meal and dessert for £14.05 – I’d consider that great value for money. I left absolutely and completely satisfied, so much so that I left a tip, which gave me the opportunity to send some coins down the counter located helter-skelter, as is their mechanism for collecting such gratuities. I live in a small market village in North Hertfordshire, so when Debenhams opened in Stevenage, just a short drive from me, it was big news. On finding out it had a Nando’s too, well let’s just say excitement levels rose substantially. It gives me great pleasure to come away from my meal today, with the knowledge that Stevenage Nando’s excelled in every area – service, food and atmosphere, and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone in the area.
*Not a proven fact.