Not many, mind. And they’re usually few and far between. So when we received an emailed invitation to attend the Nandos Oshawa launch night from the PR company organizing the event, we were excited to attend. An evening spent sampling the Portuguese chicken chain that has built a reputation in the UK as being a cheeky, guilty pleasure? We’ll be there with our stretchy pants on.
But after arriving to a packed restaurant, and relaying our name to the overwhelmed staffer manning the door, we discovered we weren’t on the list. But we were offered space to wait in between the main entrance and the fire door until one of the invited guests vacated a table.
Fortunately for Nandos, it looked like one hell of a launch night inside their restaurant, and, after waiting for ten minutes or so, it became clear that the invited guests were having too good a time to make their way to the exit any time soon. So we grabbed a bottle of free PERi-PERi hot sauce, a handful of coupons, and took off.
But we really wanted to give Nandos Oshawa another try. Rather than go into the restaurant, we used the call and collect service, which is Nandos‘ fancier, more European way of saying “pick-up.” And, after perusing the menu online, we decided to go for a traditional meal for one: A medium heat 1/4 PERi-PERi chicken (breast and wing for $ 8.35), and added on two sides of PERi-PERi french fries and garlic mashed potatoes, which brought the total to $13.35.
Now, we’ve eaten Nandos outside of Canada before, and we weren’t particularly blown away by the chicken, which, according to the Nandos website, is marinated for 24 hours in a secret sauce until the flavour goes right through to the bone.
But Nandos Oshawa chicken redeemed itself slightly from its Continental cousin: The skin was flavourful, the medium heat we requested was warm, but fleeting on the tastebuds, and the meat was moist. The portion wasn’t huge, but the breast meat was filling enough for one. Did the flavour of the secret marinade go right through to the bone, as Nandos claims? Can’t say we’d agree with Nandos on that one, as all the flavour seemed to be in the skin.
The PERi-PERi french fries were slightly elevated fast food fries that tasted like swiping right for a Wednesday night Tinder date probably feels: Because they look passable and are in the vicinity; unremarkable, but they’ll do. Served in the ubiquitous cardboard sleeve, no doubt these fries came straight from a McCains bag into the deep fryer. However, they had been liberally sprinkled with PERi-PERi spice, which was their sole selling point.
The garlic mashed potatoes, on the other hand, were delicious: Creamy and moist, perfectly seasoned, punctuated with fresh herbs and red pieces of potato jacket, these mashed potatoes beat the spuds we’ve eaten in up-market restaurants. Next time we’d skip the fries, and head straight to the mashed.
Would we try Nandos Oshawa again? Yes, but we’d steer away from the 1/4 chicken and fries, and head for the more exotic items on the menu, like grilled chicken livers, halloumi cheese, chicken skewers, or hummus with PERi-PERi drizzle.
After all, we still have a lot of coupons to use.
Nandos Oshawa is located at 855 Taunton Road East. Cost of the meal, including tax, was $15.