Saturday, May 21, 2016

Nando's PERi-PERi Media House Preview Recap

The Thigh & Mighty Sandwich

Nando's PERi-PERi is already one of our favorite fast casual restaurants; so I was extra excited to sample their new menu at their newest location at 411 H Street, NE, along the H Street Corridor. Nando's familiar stars (Nandocas' Choice, Portugese Rice, PERi-PERi Nuts) are still available; but Wednesday's visit was all about the new kids on the block, led by the Thigh & Mighty Sandwich, which lives up to its name (and then some.)

Please don't take my words lightly. The Thigh & Mighty might be the best chicken sandwich I've ever had. Two thick, juicy boneless thighs tucked inside a Portugese roll (toasted, of course) and topped with fresh arugula, PERinaise, pickled red onions (the pickling makes a huge difference) and a chunky wedge of tomato. Perhaps you're thinking: Chicken... How good could it be? Nando's chicken isn't like other chicken: It's packed with spices that transcend Mom's Sunday bird into a succulent recreation, that you can't wait to have again (and again.) Highlighting dark meat only enhances its already stellar flavor; and it's a steal of a deal for $11.95 with a regular side, or $13.95 for two.

Chicken Thigh Skewers (with PERi Chips)

Just in case you're trying to avoid bread (and shame on you, if you are) Nando's also offers Chicken Thigh Skewers with red onions and peppers (and a side for two quarters less, $11.45.) The chicken's just as delicious; but the pickled red onions and sweet tomatoes in the sandwich, up the ante... so much so, you can justify a few extra carbs from the roll. On the plus side, the skewers total a mere 310 calories (minus the side, versus a still healthy 523 in the T&M.)

Quinoa Salad

Then again, salads might be your thing. I normally go for the Mediterranean Salad (with chicken) but rarely do I walk away impressed from something new and green. Such was the case with Nando's Quinoa Salad ($9.45.) Be warned, it's high in calories (almost 1,000) but it's packed with flavor, courtesy of creamy avocado, cherry tomatoes and squash, atop a bed of black quinoa and zesty greens. Best of all (yes, there's more) there's a generous sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese that makes it even creamier. Yum.

Braised Brussel Sprouts

Also new to the menu, Braised Brussel Sprouts, which I must admit aren't my favorite green; but Nando's is smart enough to braise them in sweet butter with a kick of chili at the end. Even with the butter, a side weighs in at a svelte 111 calories. Score! You know me: I'd much rather opt for Cole Slaw or the underrated Butternut Squash and Grilled Corn... but I finished a rather large bowl of 'em, so who knows? Perhaps I'm a convert. One more reason to try something new: You never know what's gonna become a new favorite.

Blood Orange & Mango Lemonade

No new desserts (cue tears) but Nando's does provide two tasty new libations... perfect for the upcoming hot weather. Blood Orange & Mango Lemonade and Pineapple Lemonade (both $3.25 a glass.) The former's twice as tasty (blood orange rules) but if you like pineapple (me, not so much) you're in for a treat, as it's batch-made and very pineapplely.

Service at the new H Street location was (as at most Nando's) terrific, especially our hostess/server (whose name sadly escapes me.) The new digs feature original works of art, a striking 25-foot high chandelier and exposed walls that pays homage to the H Street of old. There's also a large communal table on the first floor; although I prefer sitting upstairs (more cozy and quiet.) The space measures in at a tidy 4,550 square feet, and seats 138 customers over two levels. Check out the new menu additions below, and click here to see the full menu. Coming soon: A new location at Woodley Park (this summer) less than a mile from home. Cue applause (and frequent visits.)

Click above to enlarge