Much as we passionately love Indian food, every once in a while even we need a pause from our desi staples of Tandoori Chicken, Masala Dosa, Palak Paneer and Gulab Jamun.
So, off we headed to the fast-casual Portuguese-Mozambican restaurant chain Nando’s Peri-Peri in Annapolis (MD) yesterday.
Our interest in Nando’s was piqued by SI blog reader Kreacher’s recent comment on the restaurant’s fine Peri-Peri fries.
For the curious, Peri-Peri is Swahili for the African Bird’s Eye chilli, a variety of chilli indigenous to Africa (source:Wiki).
Although belonging to the fast-food genre, Nando’s has a far superior ambiance compared to your Mac, Burger King, Hardees and Taco Bell.
There are nice booths with leather seats here not those ugly, garish-colored benches you encounter at Mac or Burger King.
Yes, there’s Beer and Wine too at Nando’s. 😉
You order and pay up at the counter and a waiter brings the food to the table.
Being as usual in a famished state, we ordered Peri-Peri Chips/Fries (with Peri Salt and Perinaise dip), Butternut Squash and Couscous Salad, Peri-Peri Nuts, Chicken Sandwich, the Naughty Natas dessert and, of course, a bottle of ice-cold Portuguese Beer Sagres.
What’s a meal without Beer, eh?
The Sagres beer was expensive ($4.95) but made for a nice combination with all those hot Peri-Peri sauces.
Butternut Squash and Couscous Salad – Delightful
Oh, what a healthy treat.
Looks yummy too.
Nothing like tasty stuff coming in good-looking packages, if you get our drift. 😉
As the Nando’s menu describes it, this salad consists of oven roasted butternut and red onion with olives, grilled corn and couscous served with dressing on a bed of leaves.
The salad was a little cold for comfort, particularly as it was a wee bit chilly yesterday.
With the olives and all, the salad was tasty enough as it is.
But if you want a kick to it, we strongly recommend you add a few drops of Nando’s extraordinary Garlic Peri Peri sauce from the tall bottle with the metal snout. With the Garlic sauce, the salad undergoes a dramatic transformation and Nirvana is guaranteed! Absolutely.
The Wild Herb Peri-Peri sauce was fine too but we were too chicken to try the Hot Peri Peri sauce.
At $7.95, the Butternut Squash and Couscous Salad is a little expensive for gluttons like yours truly habituated to gormandizing at all-you-can-eat $11.99 Indian buffets.
But, hey a welcome change. Even if you don’t like it, at least you know what some other people in the world eat.
Peri-Peri Fries – Beri Beri Nice
Now for the fries, the main purpose of our visit.
We’re happy to tell y’all that the fries with Peri-Peri salt on them (and Perinaise, a mustard-like dip on the side) were beri beri good.
Sure, they were not as crunchy as the Mac fries but they did not have McDonald’s weird pale color either.
We attribute the magic of the Nando’s fries to the reddish-brown colored Peri-Peri Salt (15 cents extra) that adds a nice spicy zing. Not the pepper kind of spice but a mild red chili powder kind of spice.
Perinaise comes in a small cup and can be best described as Mayonnaise Light. Not bad but nothing extraordinary either.
We say, forget the Perinaise. Instead, add a few drops of the Garlic Peri-Peri Sauce on top of the fries and, again, you’ve got yourself a BIG Winner!
But why does Nando’s charge 15-cents extra for the Peri-Peri salt. That was a bit off-putting. 🙁
Chicken Sandwich served on a largish Portuguese roll with green leaf lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise gave no reason for any complaint.
We opened up the top of the roll, added a few drops of that heavenly Garlic Peri-Peri sauce and it was sextasy redux.
Our solicitous waiter informed us that the meat was fresh and came from the restaurant’s custom order from a place in Baltimore.
Peri-Peri Nuts – Go for It
If you’re into booze as much as we’re, you are probably forever scrounging for some nice accompaniments.
Folks, there’s no better bar-snack than Peri-Peri Nuts ($2.95). A nice, crunchy combination of spiced almonds, cashews and macadamia, they’re just perfect with a bottle of Sagres Beer or our favorite Gin and Piña colada cocktail.
After tasting a sample, we liked the nuts so much that we placed a second order of Peri Peri nuts.
Like all the other stuff we’d tasted so far, the Peri Peri Nuts too had a fresh taste and more importantly did not have the chemical after-taste and smell common to the roasted nuts purchased at your local American grocery store or Sam’s Club.
As were finishing up our Chicken Sandwich and Butternut Squash salad, our waiter got us our dessert Naughty Natas, a Portuguese pastry.
Naughty Natas is a custard tart served on a flaky, layered crispy bread base. Though it was slightly low on sugar for our Gulab Jamun and Gajar Halwa hardened palate we enjoyed this Portuguese pastry so much that we placed another order for take-out.
We were pleased with our waiter Danny aka Dayanand, a desi bloke from Chennai.
Danny went out of his way to please us and even offered to get us a replacement salad should the Butternut Squash and Couscous not meet with our approval.
Hey, you get stainless steel spoons and forks too here.
All in all, we had a pleasant time at Nando’s in Annapolis (located in the Annapolis Mall, between Sears and Border’s book store).
We’d definitely reconsider a repeat visit to Nando’s should we happen to be in the area or drive through Annapolis.
SearchIndia.com strongly recommends Nando’s Annapolis (MD).