It seems that Nando's is becoming the acceptable face of fast food. Not only did Observer Food Monthly run a lengthy paen of praise some time ago, but now John Lanchester has reviewed the chain for The Guardian last Saturday.
Lanchester is a fine novelist and memoirist but his restaurant columns are...well... rather anodyne. And he likes Nando's chicken burger. Well, we all have our little weaknesses; mine is the mighty Big Mac.
"It is mysteriously popular with musicians," he writes. Mysteriously? If John Taverner and Simon Rattle were regulars, I could see the point. But he's referring to Jay-Z. Nothing mysterious about that at all.
Chicken wings marinated in piri-piri can be delightful (and if you want to try some, there are decent if nuclear ones at Gourmet Burger in Ranelagh). But the first duty of a chicken wing is to be crisp. Its second duty is to be succulent within its crisp coating.
I've been to Nando's twice, first in Dundrum, latterly in Camberwell and I have to report that their wings are consistently unpleasant. The marinade is fine, which is just as well as they spend 24 hours in the stuff. But the grilling process appears to steam the wings. They are flabby, wet, unattractive things and such appeal as they have for the fans must be down to the spiciness.
The big appeal for parents, of course, is the notion that chicken is healthy. That and the "bottomless glass" of fizzy drinks that is Nando's hallmark. Diabetes on tap. On the plus side, I have to say that the service is flawless. Nando's could teach the average restaurant a thing or two about cherishing the customer.
Nando's, in case you're interested, is expanding in Ireland. This is a boom time for fast food. The latest outlet is planned for lucky old Cork.