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Chicken with chirpy service; S.

Byline: Nando

THE ladies-who-lunch came to meet me at work.

I'd promised to take them on a 'Dining Out' mission, otherwise known as a 'free lunch.' For our outing I chose Nando's, the chicken peri peri restaurant, because it was still on my list of places not yet visited.

Although Nando's has an extensive chain of restaurants it doesn't think of itself as a fast food emporium.

The menu stresses the freshness and 'just cooked' aspect of everything.

The Man-in-Charge, funnily enough, had recently been to the Nando's in Leeds and said he was pleasantly surprised. The Boy is also a fan. I had reservations.

But first impressions were good. We were greeted by a particularly chirpy and helpful young waitress.

She explained the menu, which is essentially copious quantities of chicken, cooked with different degrees of spicy heat and served with the usual suspects.

Diners can choose food packages comprising chicken in one of its many manifestations with one side dish or two - it works out a little cheaper that way.

As first timers we struggled a bit with the complexities of this mix and match menu and its many permutations.

An added complication was the fact that one of our number recently 'turned' vegetarian. Surprisingly for a peri peri chicken restaurant there were a number of vegetarian options, including a beanie burger (pounds 5.25 on its own or pounds 8.05 with a side dish), which she selected.

I decided I had to try some peri peri chicken, while the third member of our party chose a 'Nandoise' salad of green leaves, edamame beans and chicken (pounds 8.20).

The waitress recommended the creamed butternut squash, so we ordered some of that, along with ratatouille, a dish of olives, chips and a red pepper dip with pitta.

The food arrived swiftly: the olives were herby; the pitta bread fresh and warm; the dip sweet and succulent. Our sweet potato side dish was, as promised, creamy and moreish; the ratatouille perfectly edible, and Friend One said that her beanie burger in pitta was tasty.

Friend Two was impressed with her salad, which was substantial, fresh and satisfying. We fell upon the chips with relish.

But the peri peri chicken (pounds 3.30 for a quarter, pounds 6.05 for breast fillet), the signature dish, was a disappointment. I'd ordered a quarter chicken, for a light lunch.

When it arrived it was a somewhat scrawny leg. The small quantity of meat might not have mattered too much if the leg had looked more appetising. "The skin looks a bit slimy,'' said Friend Two, as she munched on her succulent strips of marinated breast meat. In fact the skin bore the marks of a griddle pan and tasted of peri peri but it was pale, with not even a hint of crispiness.

Back at the office I regaled my younger colleagues with my Nando's experience and there seemed to be a split of opinion. For every person who thought it was a fine destination there was someone else who thought it overpriced and limited.

Overall, we quite enjoyed our little venture into Portuguese peri peri territory and, as my friends pointed out, I was the only one who was disappointed. Which seems just a little unfair, as I had to do all the writing up afterwards.

. Diners concerned about animal welfare should know that Nando's chickens are indoor reared and fed non-GM feed free from antibiotic growth promoters. The Huddersfield restaurant serves only Halal chicken in response to what it says are the 'needs of its customers.'

Do you agree with our reviewers' verdicts? Tell us about your eating out experiences. Write to Feedback, Features department, Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Queen Street South, Huddersfield, HD1 3DU or email letters@examiner.co.uk and head your message Feedback Tell us your viewHILARIE STELFOX As first timers we struggled a bit with the complexities of this mix and match menu and its many permutations. An added complication was the fact that one of our number recently 'turned' vegetarian

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IMPOSING: Nando's restaurant, John William Street, Huddersfield SIGNATURE DISH: Nando's offers a relaxed dining style and on its menu, you'll find classic Portuguese peri peri seasoning with just about everything JH070509Enandos-02.jpg
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:May 8, 2009
Words:709
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