Ring the church bells, sound the alarm: Nando’s is here.
The much-anticipated premier restaurant to launch in The Beacon extension opened its doors this week, welcoming hundreds of grilled chicken enthusiasts upstairs to the shiny new floor of the shopping centre.
But some people weren’t so easily impressed. Chris Weller wrote on the Herald Facebook page, “Not been in yet and won’t either as it is the most overrated mediocre food EVER.” (Capital letters used are Chris’s emphasis, not mine).
Meanwhile, Martin Wratten simply said one word: “CHEEKY,” (again, emphasis from Martin) – a word which has become synonymous with the brand.
For those who may not know what “cheeky Nando’s” means, or why Nando’s is cheeky – no one does and it is not.
The phrase is associated with teens who like to go to the South African restaurant and banter with their mates. That’s all I can tell you.
Indeed, there were a number of teenage boys in line for the grand opening who I would wager would use the phrase “cheeky Nando’s” without a peri-peri pinch of irony.
But Nando’s is not just for teenage boys. Nando’s is for everyone.
Maybe Chris is right, maybe it does serve mediocre and overrated food, but now it is our mediocre and overrated food.
As with many chains, I think the reason so many people like it is because it’s comforting to know you can go in a restaurant and order something and know exactly what it will taste like.
So on its opening day on Wednesday (February 20), I took one for the team and went to try out the town’s first ever Nando’s experience.
A seasoned Nando’s customer, I had my favourite veggie combination: a perfectly tasty mushroom and halloumi wrap (medium spiciness, I’m a wimp) with peri-peri fries.
My companions went down the more traditional Nando’s route and ordered a chicken frenzy, I mean a chicken platter.
Service was excellent. I bet they were rushed off their feet all day, but the staff were chirpy and attentive. Their only sin was they ran out of cheesecake.
But let’s not forget to support our local businesses too. I have spied a Turkish coffee shop looks primed to open soon in Grove Road, at the old location of Arcade.
And there are as ever a multitude of wonderful eateries in the Little Chelsea area and Enterprise Centre we should be getting just as excited about.
On a more serious note, also in the news this week was the sad story of an unidentified man found washed up near Birling Gap. Police are appealing for information to find out who he was.
Last autumn, I went to the funeral of a woman who was found perhaps only a few hundred metres from this man.
Like him, she has still not been identified. But, despite no one seeming to know who she was, more than 100 strangers turned up at the ceremony to pay their respects for her – to make sure she was not alone when she was finally laid to rest.
I hope this man is identified, and I truly hope people have the same compassion for him.