Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Peri Peri Decent - Nando's, Phoenix Mall, Velachery, Chennai

Its been a peri long while. Although i have been trying and eating at peri many places, i havent found time to blog about peri one of them. Yesterday was different.

So Nando's is a fast food, i was introduced to in the US. And knowing that now it is available in Chennai, meant it was worth a visit. The food is supposed to be Portuguese - South African mix (as per the web site), but a visit to restaurant, and you would think (atleast i did when i first went to the restaurant in Gaithersburg, MD), that the food is South American, with a chilli-spicy flavor. They do have some peri peri hot sauces !

The restaurant in Chennai, is located in the "Mall of the Americas" version built for Chennai. After spending almost 15-20 mins in the roller coaster ride to find a parking spot, we were happy to find one on the 9th floor level. Luckily the parking level 9 is about equal to floor 2.5 of the Phoenix Mall. After winding our way a bit, we discovered the Nando's food place on the groundest floor. It was by happenstance. I didnt want visit an eating place on the top floors, with a dysfunctional air-conditioning inside the mall. The thought was cold air settles at the bottom, so the ground floor is the best floor.

We were greeted by two cheerful hosts at the entrance of Nando's. The restaurant was stuffy, thanks to the fact that my theory on cold/hot air was being proven wrong. Air inside any restaurant is usually stuffy, far overrides any physics of hot and cold air. All this because the air-conditioning in the mall was not working, and the restaurant doesnt have one of its own. We chose to sit outside, thankfully they had good outdoor seating.

After finding a great spot to sit, we sat down to order from the menu. Santhosh was our host, another friendly fellow. The kids wanted their sodas, and much as i would have loved to dissuade them, i ordered the coke and fanta (bottomless version) for them. They deserved this on a peri hot day. I also challenged my son to finish 3 glasses, and never ask for coke again !!
I took over the ordering, Peri-Peri Hummus and Pita bread from the Appeteaser list, and an order of Strips & Rice - Chicken (boneless) and rice to start with. Quickly realized that this was going to vanish soon, i decided to order more food immediately so, that we could down it all together. Santhosh now back with the drinks, was more than pleased to suggest, Espetada Rustica - tender boneless Chicken on skewers. And was also willing to swap out a veg side that came along with it. We got the Macho Peas, inside of the Grilled Veggies (who the hell eats broccoli). The Strips & Rice was doubled, now two instead of one, and we also got a Chicken Breast Filet Burger.

Food came to the table in quick succession. There was little doubt that food was good, as it was devoured quickly and without fuss. The accompaniment of peri-peri sauces also found good favour at our table. Altho' somehow the same sauce tasted better in America, than in India. On further reflection, i figured, that in a land of spiceless wonder, a simple chilli paste was king. But in the land of spice paradise, same thing, is just that - chilli paste. So, Nando's food was good, but nothing spectacular to write home about. It was worth a blogpost tho'. All of this eating only cost about 2K. We had originally planned for a quite dosa/idli eat-out at Palmgrove. Would have been less exciting, lot cheaper, and less stressful.

If there was a disappointment, it was the location. Good and decent food places located in large tasteless Malls - a big no no. I wouldnt visit this place again. Not because the food or the service sucks. But the location sucks. Remember the roller-coaster ride up, to find a parking spot, well we were offered a similar ride (and it was peri peri peri slow one) on the way out of the lot. It took almost 30+ minutes to get out the lot. Ten floors of parking, with a single exit !!

So Nando's is worth a try. If you are willing to factor the entry/exit circus into and out of the mall, and not to forget the mela that goes inside the mall.