Monday, 22 December 2008

NANDO's ~ Ottawa ON

On my explorations of Eastern Ontario, I have found chains and restaurants I did not in Toronto or Southwestern Ontario, and its always good to see regional differences. One of the places I've come across is Nando's, a Portuguese inspired flame grilled chicken restaurant.

It sounded interesting, so I decided to look into it further. It turns out they are in the Greater Toronto Area itself, but not Toronto proper. And that's not all - its a global chain of restaurants from South Africa. Wikipedia says they exist in "Australia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Kuwait, Botswana, Canada, Cyprus, Fiji, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Israel, Lebanon, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Swaziland, the UAE, Uganda, the UK, Ireland, the USA (Washington, DC) and Zimbabwe." Its nice to see some reverse globalization for once! (ok maybe not 'reverse', but it seems North America is the only cultural imperialist out there).

Nando's heavily emphasizes its family friendly, healthy, and spicy. The chicken is grilled, not fried or even baked, and the tout the health benefits of the peri-peri sauce they use. Peri-Peri sound familiar? That's because President's Choice went Piri-Piri (same thing, different spelling) crazy this past summer with their version of the sauce.

I was running errands when my curiosity finally got the better of me. I went in and saw the take out area to the left, and the dinning room to the right. I knew I was trying the wings, so it didn't take long to order my wings (extra hot peri peri of course). I went with a 'platter' with a side included, and I decided to go with the spicy peri-fries (although the coleslaw sound pretty good).

I was confused about the procedure at the establishment for ordering and dining until another guy came in, and had problems himself, confused whether he sat down first and ordered or ordered at the counter. While the place looks like a stylish sit down place, everything is counter service in terms of ordering and paying (done first), and they will bring the meal to your table, but that's about it. I liked the dining room, but I was on my home.

When I got home, I was surprised by the plump bag. Inside were tons of napkins, cutlery, Nando's brand ketchup and hot sauce. And of course, the food.

My Peri-fries were a little cold by the time I got home, but they were still pretty crispy.

There was a light dusting of spice on them, but nothing that really knocked the senses out. Frozen fries, but good fries. They would have been way better hot at the dining room.

I reached deeper into the paper bag and found yet another bag, with the wings in them. I thought this was strange, the wings being in a sack instead of a Styrofoam or cardboard container, but I don't think they hurt the wings at all.

2008 THE SCORE 3.0: Nando’s ~ Ottawa




$2.89 for 4 wings

$7.99 for 12 wings

$9.99 for 12 wings w/reg side

$12.99 for 12 wings w/2 reg sides


(flavours grilled on)

§ lemon & herb

§ medium peri-peri

§ hot peri-peri

§ extra hot peri-peri

plus hot sauce on the side



extra hot on its own was not hot, but the side sauce has a kick – burn tingles on the lips and tongue


medium to large size wing



without the extra sauce, these are a dry style wing



crispy/chewy texture, but would have been better if it hadn’t been for take-out



ok, but with extra hot sauce, bumps it up to good



choices with platter:

Peri fries, classic fries, spiced rice, baked potato, hearty coleslaw









there is seating at the restaurant


not bad – I would prefer to eat in when its right off the grill


I pulled out a wing, only to find out a bunch more came out. Wings on a skewer - awesome. Actually putting them on a skewer doesn't help the eating process, but they do probably help the grilling process. Oh and they just look cool. I love food on a stick!

The wings were medium to large in size. They looked great with their deep grill marks and spiced coating. The skin was crispy enough, and the chicken was meaty and juicy. My first taste though was a slightly disappointing. The "extra hot" heat was not there at all. And the flame grilled taste was not woodsy from wood fire, but a gas flame instead.

I had several packages of their hot sauce, so I decided to try it over the wings. Bam-o. Big difference. First of, the packet hot sauce has a good kick to it. The sauce is very runny, like a Carribean hot sauce. There were even little chili's inside. With the sauce on, I mowed down these wings pretty quickly.

I think its pretty clear that dine in is always better than take-out. Sure, the eating in the comfort of one's home is great, but lets be honest, straight from the kitchen is always better. These grilled skewed wings looked really cool, and there was definitely a unique flavour to them. I'm very tempted to go back and enjoy a sit in meal. 8.5/16.

1461 Merivale Road, Ottawa (and other locations around the globe)

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