Thursday, March 5, 2015

Nando's PERi-PERi Food Review II

Rib-eye Steak Sandwich with PERi Chips

My, how times have changed. When I used to own a stationery shop in Tenleytown, there weren't many (good) places to dine in. Armand's Pizzeria, Blimpie, Ruby TuesdayMcDonald's & Popeyes. Only the latter two remain; but now, the list seems endless (Cava Mezze Grill, Z-Burger and Nando's PERi-PERi... with more on the way.) Nando's is wonderful, and reigns supreme as the closest thing to a sit-down restaurant in the area.

I sang its praises back in 2013; and not much has changed since. It's still very comfortable (Tenleytown has a spacious patio at its disposal) with good service. This new Nando's isn't quite a year old yet (it opened last May) but it's almost always packed with customers. I finally found my way inside, after a haircut at nearby Camillo Damiano Barber Shop (thanks again Roberto!) The weather outside was dreary at best, and Nando's looked warm and cozy inside. I placed an order for a Rib-eye Steak Sandwich with PERi Chips (fries) for $13.75. Not exactly cheap, but neither is Rib-eye: You get what you pay for. Toss in a fountain drink (Sprite Zero with grape, $2.25 with free refills) and I was all set.

The cashier (Arianna) couldn't have been nicer, and I took a seat at the front of the restaurant, facing Wisconsin Avenue. The bar/ledge was ├╝ber-stylish, and the seats surprisingly comfortable. Keep in mind, there's an upstairs dining room in addition to the aforementioned 48-seat patio deck. Arianna brought my food over; and my first reaction was YUM, followed by a twinge of disappointment. YUM for obvious reasons: The food looks and tastes great. But disappointment for the relatively small sandwich, a 4" sammy cut in half.

Fries are fried perfectly, and well-seasoned. They were devoured in a flash. The sandwich was just as good, smothered in arugula, pickled red onions (more please) and roasted red peppers. I specifically asked for no PERi-PERi mayo (too messy) but it was on there nonetheless. Just as I thought, it was extra messy (despite the sandwich's relatively tiny footprint.) To her credit, Arianna had it right (no mayo, on the receipt) but the kitchen dropped the ball. What they got right was temperature (the meat was cooked MEDIUM, as requested) and flavor (HOT, definitely as asked for.) The bread (Portugese) is nothing short of amazing. The only other negative? One half had a thick wad of fat of otherwise delectable meat. A wee-bit chewy, but that's always the case with rib-eye. Had the sandwich been a little bigger (and void of mayo) I might still be smiling. Even with those minor hiccups, it's one heck of a sandwich!

What makes Nando's so great (BTW, it's coming to Woodley Park soon!) is the variety of its menu. Don't care for fries? No worries: Ask for Portugese Rice or Red Skin Mashed Potatoes. Not a fan of chicken (shame on you, if that's the case) order the Rib-eye sandwich or one of six tasty salads. Completely confused? Order Nando's killer Wings, and call it a day. Odds are, you're gonna be happy when all's said and done.

Nando's PERi-PERi at Tenleytown opens at 11 AM seven days a week, and closes at 10 PM (Sunday-Thursday) and 11 PM (Friday-Saturday.)