Have you ever gotten a “cheeky Nando’s”? Would it come as a surprise if I say that I get said “cheeky Nando’s” at least once a month – twice, even, during the summer when I had free time to spare.
Cheeky Nando’s is a meme-tastic phrase that gained popularity in late 2014, describing a visit to a Portuguese peri-peri style chicken place called Nando’s that you shouldn’t really have but somehow you’ve managed to convince yourself “why the hell not, YOLO!”
I find myself dining at a local Nando’s recently when I had a startling realization. My brother and I were sitting at our table, having ordered our food with ease and were at the point waiting for our food to be served, when a family of three was seated beside us. The server gave them their menus and they spent at least fifteen minutes poring over the options before the conversation started in earnest between them.
Now, I can’t say I have an ear for foreign languages – I barely have an ear for the English language, given the amount of variation in accents found in the UK alone – but I recognize the off French word or two. And so like Sherlock Holmes, I deduced that the family were tourists and therefore would not have been overly familiar with how Nando’s worked. Yes, it is a sit-down type of restaurant where you can enjoy a hearty meal with friends and family… however, it was run like a fast food chain, albeit a fast food chain with relatively healthy standards.
Confused? Let me explain.
How To Order Food in Nando’s in Five Easy Steps
Enter through the door and wait to be seated. There is usually a seated waiting area by the front doors – if it’s not manned by the restaurant’s front of house staff, wait patiently and someone will come over.
Once seated, the server will tell you your table number as they hand over the menus. Then, you are free to peruse to your heart’s content, since Nando’s has plenty of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options to choose from.
NANDO’S NEWBIES, BEWARE OF THIS STEP.
The French family from above made the mistake of waiting for the server to come back and take their order. The server does not come back to the table to take your order. I repeat, the server does not come back to take your order. What you need to do is detailed in Step Three.
Armed with your order, a volunteer from your group – the designated mom friend, or in the case of the French family, the Actual Mom™ – should go to the area of the restaurant where all the tills are located. They typically are situated behind a bar and laid out in a neat row, like this:
Now, during the ordering process, you have to state your table number before you list off your food choices. Do not forget your table number because if you do, you’ll have to do that walk of shame back to your table to check.
Also, choose a level of spiciness if you’re ordering the per-peri chicken. You’re always asked what level of spiciness is preferred by the chicken-devourer.
If you’re ordering a drink as well, don’t be disappointed if you’re given a glass instead of the actual drink – they’re meant to be filled by the customer over at the refill station. (It’s very American, I know.)
Step Three is when you pay for what you’ve ordered.
This is the fun part.
DO NOT GO BACK TO YOUR TABLE.
Cast your eyes around the restaurant until you find the little island containing all the sauces. This is also the drink refill station. Grab as many varieties of sauces and dips as you can carry. At this stage in the process, you are more than welcome to signal your group – either through facial gestures or hand signals, maybe even semaphore – and ask what their preferences are or for help if you wish it.
Don’t forget to grab enough cutlery for the table. Or just grab a set for yourself if you’re feeling petty, and let the rest of your group grab their own, You’ve already gotten the sauces from the island, let the others earn the right to have a cheeky Nando’s.
Is everyone settled back at the table?
Cutlery retrieved? Sauces lined up in the centre like precious treasure?
Now is time for you to begin an earnest conversation with your friends / family / date / what have you. There isn’t much of a wait for food in Nando’s unless it’s the lunch rush. When you get into a groove and somehow manage to arrive at an uncomfortable topic of conversation that really shouldn’t be happening in public, another server will come by carrying your delicious peri-peri chicken.
The bonus and cheeky final step is this: pick up your knife and fork and eat your chicken (or your chosen vegetarian substitute). And with that, what else is there to say aside from “Bom apetite!”
Over to you guys: What’s the equivalent of Nando’s in your country? In the Philippines, I would say it’s this barbecue restaurant chain called ‘Mang Inasal’. Let me know in the comments below!