When it comes to feeding the collective habit of chicken lovers worldwide, Nando’s has something of a stranglehold on the market. The Portuguese themed High Street stalwart attracts devotion and ridicule in equal measure, dropping on to the foodie radar recently after receiving an impassioned defence from the frustratingly readable Jay Rayner.
Of course, London is currently experiencing an explosion in poultry peddlers and there are a number of great options – the reason I’m bothering to discuss the ubiquitous eatery is because unfortunately there isn’t a Clockjack Oven or StickyWings on every corner.
Nando’s presents an interesting conundrum for the modern gastro-snob. On the one hand, it’s the ultimate personification of the chain restaurant, a phenomenon that most of us agree is pretty damn awful. At the same time, the fact remains: the food isn’t actually that bad and it’s quite convenient. If you’re questing for a bite to eat in an uninspiring part of the world, there are far more offensive things to be caught whispering than, “Well, there’s always Nando’s…”
Related: What the hell is Wingin’ It?
So what of the wings, you ask? Between work lunches and the odd post-pub craving, I probably eat my weight in Nando’s chicken every year. As with the rest of the menu, the wings aren’t anything to write home about, but nor are they totally dire. The first real point to note is that – as with most chain eateries – the quality can vary incredibly.
At their best, they’re on the right side of acceptable. The meat isn’t super tender but nor is it dry and there’s usually a decent amount of flesh to chew on. It’s definitely worth ordering them extra crispy, though, as liberal (but usually uneven) applications of sauce can render them a bit soggy. Come at a busy time and such requests will most likely be ignored – you are, after all, chicken pieces 269-274 out of 1,000 in the grand scheme – but if you catch a quieter spell you may be pleasantly surprised.
Speaking of sauces: the Nando’s range isn’t exactly artisan stuff, but it’s quaffable enough and packs a good punch at the higher end of the spectrum. My top tip for chilli fiends is to have no fear ordering ‘Extra Hot’ – it’s a definite tingler, but nothing too extreme – and then utilise the ‘Black Label’ for extra impact.
At £3.25 for three wings, £5.25 for five, £8.40 for a meal deal, or £16.80 for a sharing platter, Nando’s wings are a bit on the pricey side without being eye-watering. The whole affair may reek a little bit of predictability, but that’s not always a bad thing – especially when you just need a spicy chicken fix.