WARNING!!! THIS MAY CONTAIN CONTENT OF A DRAMATIC NATURE
I’m not much of a food critic, I may be fussy when it comes to the minute details such as how much sauce is in a dish or how much oil lurks in a plate of chips or indeed how MANY chips are on a plate but I’m pretty laid back, little did I know a quiet evening out with old friends at Nandos would descend into utter chaos reminiscent of scenes of anarchy at the recent protests at the G20 summit in London.
I kid you not.
If I had a pound coin for every profane word which was yelled across between customer’s and staff alike, you’d think I was illustrating a scene from a south park episode entitled “Madness in Nandos – Kenny’s final death”
Before we embarked on what would be an embarrassingly eventful meal at the Portuguese joint. We walked into the cinema and had a quick browse of showing times for any movie, it was apparent that the hundreds of school kids were among us and seemingly had no interest in either eating out, watching a movie or playing pool or even playing any arcade games. They were just there.
And with the benefit of hindsight, I realized perhaps they did have a purpose, it was to ruin as much peoples evening they could, and this is my account of my “Good Friday”…
I am self-confessed sauce addict and cannot tolerate lack of lettuce and salad in a burger or a meal, so when I recently went to Nandos with a few secondary school buddies in Park Royal, my jaw dropped when I received my plate.
It took me five seconds to count how many chips I’d been served and as a slowly lifted the lid of my burger (the suspense was immense) to my horror I was given two anorexic strings and strips of lettuce, a huge tomato which I specifically ordered against, an onion the size of my burger and no sign of peri peri. I was irritated as this was not the first time I’ve encountered stingy service at Nandos, I paid £7.90 for a meal which I could have compiled from the bins from the back.
Now I’m a reasonable person, I realize times are hard and that the economic crisis is affecting our lifestyles and I wasn’t too bothered when this “reunion” turned into a evening at Nandos, a couple games of pool in an arcade swarming with teenage hoodies and chavs who set out on intimidating anyone over the age of 21.
What irritates me is depriving customers of an extra handful of chips isn’t going to cut costs majorly nor is it going to break the bank. What it is going to do is put off customers or in my case force the customer to complain and request a bigger portion, which is going to affect costs as chefs often feel they have to over-compensate by super-sizing you. I do sincerely suspect that the chefs are under strict instructions to go “easy” on side orders in order to skimp and save, particularly the ones that hail from the potato family.
I looked at the waitress and she came over without me having to signal, she looked embarrassed, I felt for her as she had not prepared the meal, I politely explained my fury at the mediocre quality and quantity of my food. While the waitress whisked away my plate, I saw an emerging gang of youths enter the restaurant, the place was busy enough and looked low on staff. The teenagers didn’t appear to be searching for trouble but when they were refused entry, the atmosphere quickly turned nasty.
Soon there were shuffles, swearing and shoving between the youths who can’t have been too shocked at the snub by managers and staff, I could hear verbal threats being made galore. Then out of nowhere, the manager locked the door which left the four thugs in the restaurant refusing to leave and attempting to force the door open so there friends could join them for dinner. How thoughtful!
At this point, customers were restless and according to the manager and staff the police were on their way….
Fast forward 30 minutes later shall we.
Not only have I not received my plate of food back, but my mate’s orders were wrong, not to mention the fact people weren’t being allowed to leave the restaurant until the “authorities” arrived. It was tense, customers were fuming, and our table in particular was badly treated by staff whom ignored our requests over and over.
To the climax….
About 10 minutes of madness ensued when a middle aged man with a group of friends shouted at the boys who were wreaking havoc by eating olives, messing around with the ice-cream machine and helping themselves to drinks, staff intervened and things got physical between the youths and the staff who seemed to abandon every other customer in the restaurant.
One particular staff member challenged one of the boys to the ground as he headed for the toilets and he was then attacked by the boys, who then waved a knife in the air and threatened to use it if his friends weren’t allowed to leave the restaurant
Meanwhile a crowd was growing outside as friends of the hoodies who witnessed the scuffle banged on the door and screamed coarse language at the staff, some of it racist as words like “paki” and “terrorist” were exchanged.
The manager obliged, unlocked the door and received a punch in the face for his troubles, as the teens fled the scene, the manager then locked the door again which caused rage amongst customers who wanted to leave. Some staff claimed desserts weren’t paid for but they didn’t seem to be able to account for which table owed money. That same middle aged man was shouting again, this time he was menacing as the youths who’d started the whole drama. “Were late for our fucking movie mate, open the fucking door!”
The police then arrived. (Typical) even though almost 45 minutes late, they assessed the area, couldn’t find the hoodies and took descriptions of the offenders, took statements etc.
ALL the while, I’m starving my ass off, I find myself demanding a refund as does the rest of my table, luckily for the waiter, he complied and apologised for the hassle.
God forbid if I was refused a refund, might have found myself kipping in the slammer because that had to be the worst customer service I’ve ever encountered.
Hungry, impatient, tired and pissed off, our meal out was ruined, in the end we settled for some pizza from Pizza Hut where no hoodies where to be seen.
It was an unpredictable scenario, quite a scary evening at times and luckily no-one was hurt but I would definitely avoid leisure park complexes like those on a school holiday, which unfortunately attracts a youthful and troublesome crowd, I suppose it depends on your area.
Back to Nandos…I am a huge fan, love the food but I do feel more often than not their portions are a tad miniature especially with side dishes and its something that ruins the Nandos experience.
To my fellow Nando-lovers…Bon Preveito!