Everyone has a favourite chicken joint be it take out or dine in, fried, baked, rotisserie, BBQ, smoked….the options go on and on.
The other day we were invited to attend the pre-opening, sneak-peek of a restaurant that is not only fairly new to many in Calgary, but was opening a brand new location on the famed 17th Avenue this weekend. I had heard of Nando’s in passing and had even come across the one location in the NE end of the city recently but since I didn’t know a lot about it I passed on by.
As I now know, Nando’s is a mix of a take out and eat in, partial table service restaurant that offers a unique blend of african spices mixed with Portuguese style open flame grilling. Having originally started in South Africa in 1987 they now have over 1200 locations through out the world. Peri-Peri means African Bird’s Eye Chili which is the exact thing that gives Nando’s its special flavour. After sourcing their authentic Peri-Peri chili’s, Nando’s now has a breed of the chili that is specifically theirs (which is why they spell theirs PERi-PERi instead of the traditional way) and they continue to support its sustainable growth and harvest in South Africa. The chicken is marinated for a minimum of 24 hours then grilled to perfection over open flame with your choice of spicy heat creating a unique Afro-Portugese flavour.
As we arrived, the line up of invited guests gathering on the street and the live DJ on the small patio pumping out the tunes was inviting a lot of buzz and attention. As soon as you enter you can see that this location will be a star on the famous 17th avenue strip. From the beautiful artwork above the bar commissioned and completed by a South African artist (as is all of the art in the Nando’s locations)
to the clean lines, great lighting and open patio.
We snagged a table and were introduced to the PERi-PERi experience by one of the staff.
We explored the sauce bar (an amazing selection of sauces of varying heats that you can take to your table to add any sort of spice you like),
the futuristic looking pop machine that has a choice of over 100 drinks to choose from and the rest of the restaurant that includes an upstairs seating section and a hand washing station right in the main dining room to avoid any possible accidental spicy eye rubbing incidents!
Shortly there after, with a glass of sangria in hand (by they way they have sangria on tap, we were already off to a great start) the food started to arrive.
We had hummus with PERi-PERi drizzle and roasted red pepper dip with pita slices,
marinated mixed olives and PERi-PERi nuts,
Portugese garlic bread (that I could eat order after order of), and PERi-PERi sliders which were amazing with a sweet tasting sauce that mixed great with a bit of the spicy sauce.
All of that was followed with PERi-PERi fries (with a spicy salt and aioli), chicken skewers
and finally the amazing chicken. The chicken lived up to every thing we had expected and more. Perfectly grilled it was the juiciest and most flavourful chicken we have had anywhere.
With just a little room left we indulged in dessert, a Natas which is a Portuguese custard tart. The pastry was amazing, crunchy and chewy and the filling was thick, creamy and not too sweet. It held up beautifully to being eaten by hand and I had to give my husband the stink eye to keep him away from mine.
Overall I think that we have found a new favourite chicken joint. Not only is it a healthier grilled version instead of fried but we can’t wait to try the multitude of spices and flavours from mild to super spicy that you can add to any chicken. A quick look at the menu shows prices that will be hard to beat anywhere else and we are already planning our next trip back. If you have a Nando’s in your city and you have been avoiding it because you were not sure what it was I highly suggest you visit soon!
Exploring a new addiction to PERi-PERi, I am Your Everyday Foodie!
Just a note, although we were invited to attend this event all comments and reviews are my own and have not been solicited.