Review_ nando’s, darlington (from darlington and stockton times)

IN Britain, there are nearly 300 branches of Nando’s, a restaurant chain specialising in marinated chicken with a Mozambiquean theme. Homemade chicken fingers baked Around the world, there are more than 1,000 outlets in more than 30 countries.

And now there is one in Darlington.

Ultimate chicken fingers As I may be the last person on the planet who has never had a Nando’s, I thought it was time I lost my peri-peri virginity.

Such was my excitement, I fumbled embarrassingly when trying to enter the restaurant, which is part of the new Vue cinema development at Feethams. Homemade fried chicken fingers I pushed at the main door when I should have pulled. How long to bake chicken fingers After some premature rattling, I made it into a square all-glass vestibule. How long to cook chicken fingers Determined not to repeat my mistake, I pulled on the one handle I could see only for it to close the open door I was supposed to be walking through, thus trapping me in a transparent cell with everyone inside the restaurant staring through the glass at the novice who couldn’t even get past first base.

Fortunately, an extremely helpful assistant rescued me, showed me to a table and, after ascertaining that it was my first time, talked me through the menu.

Although there’s really only chicken on the menu (there are three vegetarian dishes and a couple of steaks), it is chicken that comes in the form of breast, wings, thighs, on-bone, off-bone, spatchcock, butterfly, quarter, half, whole, burger…

Then you have to decide on the heat of the peri-peri chilli on a periometer scale of five, where one is extra mild and five is extra hot and like tackling a “ferociously fiery dragon”.

Then, if it’s a burger, you then have to decide whether you want a bun, a pitta or a wrap. Chicken fingers in oven Then, you have to decide on your sides and whether you want them “fino” or not, and then, if you opt for chips, you have to decide whether you want them plain or peri-salted…

Seeing my inexperience, the waiter very generously offered me three complimentary chicken thighs of differing heat. How long to fry chicken fingers I chose mild, medium and hot, but it wasn’t as simple as that. Homemade chicken fingers fried The mild one came as either lemon and herb or mango and line – which would I like?

While he was away, I noticed that the regular Nandologists, who included three Middlesbrough football players, were all making further choices. Homemade chicken strips batter The back wall was lined with shelves of peri-peri sauce bottles, from extra hot to Heinz tomato ketchup. Homemade chicken strips fried I collected a bottle of wild herb peri-peri and another of garlic peri-peri just in case I didn’t have enough peri-peri on my plate (peri-peri is the Swahili word for the Bird’s Eye Chilli, meaning “pepper, pepper”).

My complimentary thighs were hot and juicy. Homemade chicken plucker fingers I felt the mild had a surprising little kick to it while the “highly combustible” hot was pleasantly heating my mouth without causing any alarm.

This taste test enabled me to get my ducks in a row and I ordered my main meal of a quarter of chicken on the bone of medium heat with macho peas as a side and peri-salted chips (a two regular side combination for £7.60).

Mozambiquean music played from the speakers, and there’s African art on the walls and the menu covers – even the toilets are splendid in their colourful ethnicity, with rough sawn doors and handbasins hollowed out of logs that may have been found floating down the Zambezi.

My food came quickly. Zaxby’s chicken fingers calories The chicken is fresh (not frozen), reared in Britain and marinated for 24 hours in peri-peri before being flame-grilled with the skin on. Fried chicken fingers calories It was piping hot, very juicy, immaculately cooked and extremely tasty, although I quickly realised that tackling it with knife and fork was the wrong choice and I really needed to use fingers.

Quarter of a chicken just about sufficed although I would suspect most moderate appetites choose the half a chicken, although that obviously pushes up the price, from £4.40 to £7.15.

The macho peas were possibly the highlight. Chicken fingers nutrition facts They were described as “whole peas drenched in pea mash, parsley, mint and chilli”, but in reality they tasted extremely of peas with a nice hint of mint and they had a bit of give to them – certainly no trace of mushiness.