When Jay Rayner recently put pen to paper in defence of Nando's - 'Don't even think of knocking Nando's' - it struck a chord. The Guardian's chief restaurant critic was merely defending the British high street from sneering food snobs. When you factor in being gluten free though, the case for the defence is even stronger. Unlike 'ordinary folk', when coeliacs go out for a spot of lunch, much like everyone else, they want some decent food, but they also want to know that it's safe for them to eat. Step up the British high-street chain. It's a god send. Yes it can be predictable and yes it doesn't necessarily support 'eating local' but sometimes all you want is a decent, safe meal.
I've already written extensively about the high-street pizza chains conquering the gluten free market. Plus there's the likes of Carluccio's, new French-inspired Cote Brasserie, even Wagamama's, with it's somewhat restrictive menu, can provide a few 'safe' dishes. The high street often provides a consistency when it comes to dietary requirements that unfortunately some independent restaurants fail to consider. Not all by any means, as you'll see from my reviews there's plenty that can cater for the needs of the gluten free, but sometimes there's something comforting in consistency.
With over 250 branches nationwide, Nando's is something of a gluten free Mecca. With it's naturally gluten free, peri peri grilled chicken, fries and a number of side dishes to chose from it provides a safe-haven for coeliacs up and down the country. Nando's keep a dietary requirements bible behind the till, so I've no doubt it provides guidance on a number of other food allergies too. You can use this to check for yourself exactly what you can and can't have but tends to be the obvious things to avoid. Stay clear of pittas and wraps but feast on chicken marinated in a peri peri sauce of your choice and sides such as spicy rice, macho peas, coleslaw or corn on the cob. I always notify the person at the till that I'm gluten free and they add a note to the order to let the chefs know so they can take extra care. Equally it's always worth checking the 'bible' as recipes and ingredients can change.
Mr Rayner may be in defence of Nando's because he can't take another duck confit, for me Nando's provides a hassle free eating experience, something those with food allergies will know can be like gold dust.