FOOD MONSTER: Nando's, Brayford Wharf North, Lincoln
Walking along the Brayford, it's easy to forget it hasn't always been bustling with restaurants and bars.
From the homely Royal William IV on one end to the Horse and Groom at the other, there's something to suit most tastes.
Costa Coffee, the Square Sail, Zizzi, Wagamama, the Handmade Burger Company, Chimichanga, the Barge and the Hilton's excellent restaurant all do well.
But this week I ventured into Nando's the one place that always seems to be busy when the others might be experiencing a quiet night.
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I wasn't surprised that it was packed on Monday evening, despite it being a bitterly cold night on which you could easily be excused for cancelling your evening out in favour of a homemade meal in the warmth.
Although it was busy, we were quickly welcomed and shown to our booth, our waitress explaining the Nando's way of ordering.
The menu is varied. It's not all chicken, chicken, chicken.
You can share a platter, opt for the burgers, pittas or wraps, plump for the salads or go for a special.
In true Food Monster style, I had to go for the main offering. I ordered half a chicken, with coleslaw and chips. After all, this is apparently the home of the legendary, Portuguese flame-grilled Peri-Peri chicken…
Being a bit fussy with spices and hot food – OK, a complete coward who thinks vinegar is daring – I was a little worried that the Peri-Peri chicken might be too hot for me. The menu explains you can have your chicken as hot as you like, from plain…ish (which I obviously went for) right up to extra hot (madness, why would you?)
The chicken was lovely and fresh with tasty chips and crunchy coleslaw.
I also ordered a helping of halloumi on the side – which for just £1.05 was great value.
My dining partner was a bit more daring, choosing the medium hot chicken with garlic bread and rice, both of which he devoured.
You get a lot of tasty chicken for your money, which represents great value. As for drinks, the good news for families who eat there is you can get unlimited refills of soft-drinks from a self-serve counter – which is certainly going to help if you order a chicken a little spicier than you can handle. While for the adults, there's a small selection of imported beers and a couple of standard restaurant-priced wines.
We didn't have room for dessert, as the mains were so filling. But if you are the type who leaves room for a pudding pocket, there's plenty of choice.
One reason Nando's is always bustling is because of the number of families who visit. The Nandinos menu is varied and gives plenty of options for any fussy young diners.
The Mother's Day board – where kids could write about what makes mum so special – was also a nice touch.
Overall it was a great evening out, with friendly and efficient service in a restaurant that's cosy and welcoming.
There's no frills, to speak of, but there doesn't need to be. Because, without any kind of pretence, the chain is built on three simple pillars of good food, decently-sized portions and all an affordable price. Now I can see why it's always so busy in there…