Nando's, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi
How good can roast chicken be? We’re speaking of the ordinary kukkad, grilled and served in a variety of formats. Serious carnivores shun it as being nearly vegetarian, vegetarians shun it as being non-vegetarian with the rest largely preferring it in makhani gravy or as the ubiquitous tandoori variety.
So, how good can roast chicken be?
To find out, one must visit the almost-spanking-new Nando’s opened in DLF Promenade Mall, Vasant Kunj. True to my hard-core carnivorous nature, I didn’t think much of a chicken chain and was guilty of making quite a few condescending remarks whenever the opportunity arose. Even after I visited Nando’s for the first time, in Chandigarh, I thought they did a great job with the product, but still felt a chicken was a chicken was a chicken. At this point, I had stopped running down the bird, but stopped short of making recommendations. Now, I’m a fan!
Again, how good can roast chicken be?
Later, I asked for a Mojito and was told it was not available. As a former restaurateur I could understand this if it were late in the evening after a full service, but at the start of the day it just indicates very poor planning. If you have a menu it is important to maintain stocks accordingly! I ordered half a chicken with a lemon and herb sauce and a side of seasonal grilled vegetables, which was cooked to perfection, although topped with a hot peri-peri sauce. As I had ordered a mild chicken it may have been good customer service to check whether I wanted a hot and spicy topping on my vegetables.
My disappointment that day was down to customer service. Once my food arrived I was asked if my food was okay twice. The tables next to me we’re being cleared very pointedly for new customers and the waiter was looking at me in a manner which suggested dépêchez-vous rather than bon appétit. I don’t know about you, but I feel uncomfortable being glared at when I am eating. My plate was taken away quickly after I finished my last mouthful, and at the speed of a taxi drivers horn at a red light the bill was placed in front of me. I felt rushed. It took 25 minutes for me to get my food and twelve minutes for me to eat it and be shuffled out to make way for more customers. The balance was wrong. I raised this with the man on the door when he kindly asked if I enjoyed my meal. I answered the food was good but the customer service was disappointing as I felt rushed to make space for more customers and of course more money.
My question is, when will staff recognise that customer service will encourage repeat business? The waiter saw me as one guy on his own taking up space, rather than an individual who wanted to enjoy a meal in a familiar surrounding on a day when he wanted to have a meal similar to one that enjoys with his loved ones at home thousands of miles away. I should have have gone to one of the brunches.
I may also now have to review my regular Sunday lunch haunt. – Simon Ruscoe-Price
Ed: Nando’s Vasant Kunj goes down to ‘Average’ until they understand customer service better.
The answer the question is, better than every other roast chicken you’ve tasted and then some. Today, if in the vicinity of Nando’s and a meal-time, you’ll undoubtedly find me tearing apart a succulent roast chicken with tender, delicious skin, bathed in extra-hot sauce, gobbling large forkfuls of creamy coleslaw and crunchy my way through a platter full of french fries or potato wedges. Thing is, the folks at Nando’s are selling simplicity and as we all find out eventually, that’s what works. The product is quite simple – grilled chicken with accompaniments, flavored with one of four sauces; one herbed and lemony, the other three in varying degrees of chili-heat – mild, hot and extra-hot. Fini.
What we as customers probably don’t see quite as clearly, is the process that goes on in the kitchen, which ensures that the chicken eventually served to us is perfectly cooked, not raw at all (even closest to the bone) or the slightest bit dry/overcooked. This, when combined with a fair selection of sides and beverages ensures we have a delicious chicken meal just the way we like it… and let’s face it. Chicken is a meat with the lowest overhead. It doesn’t have any of the health issues associated with red meat, isn’t overtly fatty, isn’t as fond of crevices between our teeth as mutton is, doesn’t sit as heavy on the tummy as red meat would and so on. While I’m in no way resigning my membership at the Red Meat Fan Club, I would be more than delighted to find a table at Nando’s any day of the week and eat my way through that delightful menu.