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Nando’s Cataplana Algarve

Nando’s Cataplana Algarve is the latest Portuguese dish in their repertoire which they define as a medley of flame-grilled peri peri chicken thighs, tossed with spicy rice, grilled peppers, chickpeas and a dash of parsley served with Rosa Fresca drink.

Now we are big fans of not only Nando’s tongue-in-cheek print ads but also their exotic dishes purportedly originating from Portugal and how they go about marketing them.

This time however, they’ve taken things a bit too far. Cataplana Algarve is a Portuguese dish alright, but what Nando’s Pakistan is offering under the guise of Cataplana Algarve is something far removed from the real deal.

Cataplana is the name of both the recipe and the utensil in which you cook it, Algarve being the region in Portugal where this dish originated. While the utensil used by Nandos is the real one, nowhere in the original Portuguese recipe or even in its many variants are chickpeas and ‘bhagrey huay chawal’ used.

In fact the original Cataplana comprises mainly of seafood, since Algarve is in the Western part of Portugal near the sea coast. Even in its variants, rice is seldom used and chickpeas never. So where does the inspiration for Nando’s Cataplana Algarve come from.

We all know that advertising exaggerates the features of a product.

But it goes beyond exaggeration when there’s a world of difference between the actual product and the advertised product.

Just look at the advertised photo and the actual photo we took of it. What comes to mind?

The ad showed a ‘karhai gosht’ type dish with a few grains of rice thrown in between for good measure. The actual dish was oozing with rice beneath a handful pieces of chicken all crowded on top.

Nando’s Cataplana Algarve is the latest Portuguese dish in their repertoire which they define as a medly of…

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 18 Desember 2011

Even the glass used for the drink doesn’t match. Look closely at the glass in the ad, it’s a narrow tall glass with a slight taper. Now look at the glass in the actual picture. It’s your standard wide-mouthed glass. It’s not such a big deal but if you want to get your communication right, you better tend to each and every small thing.

Nandos Cataplana Algarve
Nandos Cataplana Algarve

Now we come to the taste test. The chickpeas were hard as a rock and the paprika which the ad claimed to be grilled tasted raw, not even stir-fried.

What’s more, the effect of peri peri sauce on the ‘bhagrey huay chawal’ was like consuming ‘achar gosht aur chawal’.

If a Portuguese was to taste it, he wouldn’t have any idea himself where this dish came from.

We can safely conclude this recipe is the brainchild of a Pakistani which is being marketed as a Portuguese dish.

Not only the actual product the weak part of the deal but the marketing itself isn’t good either. One of the most effective tools of branding is storytelling which Nando’s capitalized on beautifully in its marketing of Espetada Rustica where they told the story of Christopher Columbus having an affinity for this dish back in the 14th century Whether Mr. Columbus even tasted this dish is a different matter altogether but at least the story got you captivated. No such enticement in Cataplana Algarve.

Finally the price. It costs a whopping Rs.600 which with tax comes out to be Rs.696.

Fusion of cuisines is good, but you can take too far as witnessed here. The problem with Cataplana Algarve is not that its bad. The problem is that it tastes very much like a ‘ Chana aur Shimla Mirch ka Pulao’ with no semblance of a foreign dish. And when you’re charging this much amount of money, you better make sure that the customer has something which is either better or differentiated enough so much so that he can’t have it at home on his own.

Nando’s Gourmet Burger

Nandos has tried to cash in on the Gourmet Burger mania sweeping Pakistan especially Karachi with the arrival of Hardees by coming up with its own version of a Gourmet Burger.

Traditionally, Nandos has a very conservative approach to launching schemes compared to KFC and Pizza Hut who launch schemes at the drop of a hat. Only once in a blue moon does Nando’s come up with a new product or scheme.

Their last big product was the Espetada Rustica and that was almost two years ago. And now Nandos has come up with the Gourmet Burger.

We went in to review the new burger. Although Nando’s has been offering a couple of burgers ever since it launched in Pakistan, the new offering is obviously to jump on the gourmet burger bandwagon initiated by local restaurateurs who brought home the concept of this premium burger from abroad.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 5 Desember 2011

The burger costs Rs.475, with taxes it comes out to be Rs.551. We took one of their designer drinks as well called Citra which cost Rs.140 as opposed to the normal soft drink. All in all, the bill per person came out to be Rs.713.

Compare this with any of the other gourmet burgers available in town and this will come out to be one of the most if not the most expensive gourmet burger in both foreign and local brands. Only Gun Smoke fares worse than this on the price. At Hardee’s you can have an appetite busting meal at that amount. At GBC which is the latest local gourmet burger option in town, the total burger meal costs about Rs.550 on an average.

On its own, the burger is delectable. It comprises of a grilled chicken breast loaded with onions and smeared with sweet aubergines and hummus. The size of the burger is the first thing that catches you off-guard. It’s way too small for a gourmet burger especially at this price. Although Nando’s has done well to throw in two sidelines for good measure, fries and coleslaw, those two are pretty much the category standard at least in the local gourmet burger segment. Although these two sidelines are fixed, the staff is flexible enough to change it to any sideline on the menu. We chose the spicy wedges and the coleslaw.

The coleslaw was sumptuous. Although it didn’t conform to the industry standard of being sweet, being on the savory side, it was really something.

The designer drink Citra was a concoction of sprite, citrus and what not. Not bad really, but at Rs.140 plus tax is asking too much for a drink with no real fruit or any expensive ingredient in it.

Verdict: It’s a good enough burger and combined with the sidelines it will satiate the appetite of the average person. However at the end of the day it’s a simple burger and as such categorizing it under the gourmet segment is doing injustice to it.

Nando’s Menu Karachi

Nando’s  complete menu for Karachi, Pakistan which is revised and updated till November 2011.

Nando's menu of Pakistan updated as of November 2011.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 5 Desember 2011

Nandos menu
Nandos menu
Nandos menu
Nandos menu
Nandos menu
Nandos menu

Snack Attack lays a siege on Karachi

Snack Attack is yet another mid-range fast food joint in the city.  It’s biggest drawback is its location. Although located on Khalid Bin Waleed Road (parallel to Tariq Road) which sees a lot of traffic, it does not have any food joints located nearby. This simple fact has been a source of downfall for many restaurants before.

On the up side, Snack Attack has broken away from the trend of offering a plethora of meal deals with a kabab roll thrown in for good measure in every deal. In fact it doesn’t offer kabab roll or barbeque for that matter at all. It has done well to differentiate itself by offering stuff that has a taste apart from the rest of the bunch. In addition it is offering products which most don’t bother such as fish zinger. In fact it is shrewdly emulating Nandos by offering their core brands – Peri Peri Chicken and Espetada. While the Espetada at Nandos cost a whopping Rs.500+, Snack Attack has cleverly priced at just Rs.265.

Although Snack Attack is charging a premium pricing compared to its counterparts in the mid-tier category, it hasn’t come up with an ambiance to justify the premium. The joint is almost completely open a la Khan Snacks and therefore without air-conditioning. In fact the kitchen is open as well and although you get to see how the food is being prepared, the downside is that whenever they prepare something sizzling or spicy being prepared, the aroma stings your throat all the way in the dining hall as it did in our case. That was really annoying.
[slickr-flickr tag=”snackattack”]

They’ve got a solitary plasma screen on one of the walls showing the cricket matches which is not enough. A couple more will do.

We tried the mushroom Swiss chicken burger with cheese priced Rs.165 (add Rs.20 for cheese) and bbq club sandwich priced Rs.175. Instead of the usual fries and coleslaw, they provide garlic sauce and fries along with the snacks.

The mushroom Swiss chicken burger was supremely divine. Yes, the mushroom quantity was less than desirable, yes, the burger size wasn’t upto the mark and yes, the bun wasn’t the freshest we’ve ever tasted. In spite of these minor shortcomings, the chicken mushroom burger is worth devouring.

The bbq club sandwich could be placed at the other end of the spectrum. Its size was almost humongous, enough to satiate your appetite. The taste was pretty palatable. The filling wasn’t all that great. In line with the ordinary fast food joints, they had conveniently left the edges empty.

One good thing about them is that they give a huge quantity of fries. And the garlic sauce they serve with the meal is scrumptious.

The service is one of their weak points. When we visited in the evening, the place was almost deserted with almost 20 waiters swarming around, and yet the order was served late. If they had employed as many cooks as they have waiters, they could certainly speed up the process. But late isn’t a glitch if the end result is fresh and piping hot. While the chicken mushroom burger was just that, the club sandwich was cold.

Traditionally, club sandwiches are served in that fashion, but if you’re looking to differentiate, you might as well differentiate by serving the sandwiches hot. One big advantage of this is that the taste of any dish whether it’s great or mediocre is enhanced simply by virtue of being hot.

Another blemish in the service was serving half the dishes before and the rest after 10 minutes. It’s an unspoken rule of thumb in the food service industry to serve everyone at the same time instead of making a few people from the group having to wait while the rest consumer their meal.

Overall, Snack Attack is worth giving a shot with their uniquely prepared items. They could definitely do with a few meal deals. Right now they’re just offering two meal deals which are for the whole family and not for a single person.

Snack Attack
66/1 Jamaluddin Afghani Road

Nando’s ‘Sharing is Caring’ Deal

Nandos new ‘Sharing is Caring’ deal supposed to have the ‘best family value’ is essentially a publicity stunt to hook more people on to its flagship product – peri peri chicken. Not a bad idea in itself. Both KFC and Pizza Hut have captured a huge chunk of the Pakistani market using precisely these tactics.

Whether it’s going to hit off with the consumer is too early to say, but this much is certain- it cannot compete with the likes of Espetada Rustica. There are many reasons for that, the biggest being there’s no story wrapped around this brand like it was in Espetada Rustica. There’s no talk of Christopher Columbus having an affinity for this exotic dish while on his daring adventures, no unique presentation of the dish like the strange hook-style skewer, even the ad is pretty straight forward devoid of any humor or even the Portuguese accent like in the previous ad.

Then there’s the pricing. At Rs.1160 (Rs.999 +GST), the deal’s a bit on the expensive side. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that the creators of the deal have  indicated that the deal is four people but when you actually see the deal, it’s sufficient for only three adults. Let’s say that the family Nando’s is talking about comprising of a couple and their two children. Even then it won’t be enough for this small family. They’ll just have to order something else or go elsewhere.

What exactly does the deal comprise of? A ‘full’ chicken, four Portuguese buns, four sidelines (either fries or coleslaw only) and four drinks. The biggest misleading word is ‘full’ here. When you see the price coupled with this word ‘full’, the image that would conjure up in any consumer’s mind would be a succulently fat chicken enough to satiate the appetite of four people.

But when the ‘full’ chicken is actually placed in front of you, you wonder whether the chicken was imported from the impoverished lands of Africa. There are four pieces of grilled chicken and that must have belonged to a starving hen. The fries and coleslaw are alright both quantity and quality wise. The Portuguese buns, however, are a problem again. If you haven’t tasted them before, you would expect something along the lines of Focaccia  bread. But when you actually dig into these buns, you feel….. nothing. It’s just ordinary bread baked in a unique shape. What’s more, its completely dry and there’s no butter or dip or anything to go with the buns. Unless of course you want to dip the buns in the peri peri sauces. We tried, but the experience wasn’t good.

Taste-wise the whole deal is not bad but it’s not remarkable either. Either Nando’s should have kept the price low, the quantity high or if they didn’t want to change either of these two factors, they should have built up some hype around it like they did with Espetada Rustica.

Maybe Nando’s people have got into their head that it’s their core product that sells and not the brand. If that is their line of thinking, then they are in for some rude awakening. The truth of the matter is that their grilled chicken tastes pretty much what a grilled chicken tastes like at any upscale local restaurant. There’s no remarkable differentiation akin to KFC or even Pizza Hut’s USP. Nando’s brilliant branding and sales promotional tactics, specifically the tongue-in-cheek humor in their advertising is largely to account for the 6% share it holds in the Pakistani market. Strip away all the branding, and Nando’s wouldn’t be able to hold on to even this measly 6%. And that brilliance was sadly missing in this case.

Although Nando’s core competency the world over is its numerous sauces, in this part of the world they haven’t been able to enthrall the local populace.

So how can they go beyond the mundane and challenge the leaders? Follow what they did with Espetada Rustica. Weave a story around whatever the hell they are offering. Maybe a king used to love this mode of grilling chicken in the 10th century. How about Robin Hood’s culinary delight? Anything that catches the fancy of the target market. A unique style of presenting the deal would be extremely useful, after all packaging is an integral part of branding. And then present a clear positioning of the meal and price it according to that positioning. If the deal is just to scintillate the olfactory buds of the consumer and not satiate his appetite, this ought to be communicated.

Nando’s really has a tremendous opportunity of capturing a sizeable chunk of the Pakistani market especially since people already love having grilled chicken. What it needs to do is come up with attractive deals that offer the biggest bang for buck instead of merely teasing the consumer’s appetite.

Nandos consumerater
Nandos consumerater

Nandos Scores Big with Espetada Rustica

We have always been a fan of Nandos’ marketing endeavors, not just their tongue-in-cheek humorous print ads reflecting the prevailing conditions (headed by the creative department of Adcom), but also their in-house branding efforts. The way they have woven stories seamlessly into their ambiance, something which the other franchises have utterly failed to do in spite of having a long and rich tradition themselves, speaks volumes for the ingenuity of their marketing department.

However, I have never been a fan of their food. Nine times out of ten, I have come out a disappointed customer. I would have thought I  was the odd man out until I saw the share of the Pakistani market that Nandos has as found out by Aurora in their December issue – a meager 6%, which just goes on to show I’m not the only one not satisfied with their offering.

A case can be made in their favor that Subway as well has only a 6% share although it has far more outlets than Nandos. To set the record straight, Nandos has just three in the entire metropolis of Karachi. But then, it could have deliberately kept the outlets low because it expect demand for more.

When it comes to aggressive sales promotion and pricing, Subway wins against Nandos hands down. Although Subway doesn’t come up with new innovative dishes likes Nandos does, what it does do is put a clever spin on its lone offering at a price that is unbeatable. Put another way, the amount of stuff you can have at a particular price at Subway wouldn’t fulfill you at all at Nandos.

That brings us to their new marketing toy- the Espetada Rustica. If you strip away the hype, there’s nothing to it- just five pieces of tender grilled chicken served with baked vegetables, a bun and butter sauce. But the way it is presented in that unique vertically inclined skewer and the story to go with it that Christopher Columbus was addicted to this on his New World Adventures. Now the late discoverer of America may never even have heard or seen this dish, let alone be addicted to it, but such is the power of storytelling in branding that this delicacy has become the darling of the consumers. I can’t think of a time before when the consumers rushed to Nandos for some new offering as they have responded this time. A friend of mine celebrated his wedding anniversary at Nandos courtesy the Espetada Rustica.

Of course the print and the radio medium had a big part to play in this state of affairs since it was advertised on both these mediums. While the radio ad was good, especially the heavy accent used to portray possibly a Portuguese chef, the print ad would have made the great David Ogilvy turn in his grave.

Ogilvy was always a great fan of the white background, or at least a light one which would highlight the foreground elements. Nandos always goes against this convention. And it just doesn’t work completely. Just look at the ad, the background is red, the skewer is red and so is the drink! No contrast whatsoever. And if that wasn’t enough, the details of the entrée are written in microscopic font on a green background. Who on earth would be able to read that without a magnifying glass? And this isn’t the first time they have committed this folly. The fact that the cuisine has become well-known with the consumer doesn’t mean the print ad was a success. Maybe all the people driven towards the entrée was the sole result of the radio ad or even the billboard.

Now the crucial part- the taste. In that department, the Estrada Rustica is quite good. It comes in two flavors, the mild and the hot. We checked out the mild one, so cannot comment on the other one. The size of the portion was generous, enough to satiate the appetite of a healthy adult. The accessories could have been much better both in diversity and portion. A few boiled/backed pieces of assorted vegetables just doesn’t cut it. They should have at least thrown in the potato wedges for good measure, even if they are not part of the original 16th century recipe, that is, if there is really an ancient recipe of it. In any way, something extra must have been included, considering the price of the offering.

And now we come to the second crucial part – the pricing. Simply put, it is exorbitant. At Rs. 575 plus tax plus a drink plus the tip, you are looking at an Rs.850 meal, and there’s no appetizer or dessert. Now that’s pretty steep. When Nandos first launched  the offer, the drink called Blanko was included in the 575. Not anymore. You have to pay Rs.120 plus tax for that too. And it’s not even in the menu. Another fantastic marketing gimmicky.

Coming to the drink, it is offered in two flavors, either a sprite or a coke. Trust me, take the sprite version, for the other one is simply undrinkable. Not that the sprite one fares much better. We couldn’t discern the taste completely, but it tasted like a cross between a hair spray and a talcum powder. We tried our hardest to identify the brands of the powder and the hair spray, but the citrus taste courtesy slices of apple and orange in this ‘Portuguese’ drink created a hurdle in this endeavor.

We asked the waiter what on earth were the ingredients of the drink, and the poor soul had no idea himself. He said a strange syrup is imported the contents of which are confidential, and this syrup is used to make this drink. Swell.

But you have got to hand it to the Nandos people for sexing up the presentation of the drink as well with that ancient shaped bottle to go with the Columbus tale. And the volume was generous enough, about 300-350 ml.

Another brilliant marketing tactic they have come up is the use of cards to entice the first time customer for a repeat visit. The card is divided into six coupons, each coupon valid for a single visit. For the 2nd visit, you get chicken wings for free if you spend a certain amount, for the 3rd wedges and so on.

On our second visit, as promised we got the chicken wings, and they were simply divine. The thing to praise here is that the Nandos people didn’t try to cheat by offering less just because it was free, something that other franchises are prone to do.

Nandos ought to continue with this innovative style of coming up with strange and supposedly exotic dishes and marketing them aggressively. Yes, the price of Estrada Rustic is a bit too steep, which I reckon includes the cost of the marketing campaign. Otherwise, Nandos could easily have priced this product at Rs. 300-400 considering there’s no unique or expensive ingredient in it. But then, I’m also in favor of charging a brand premium if you can position your brand favorably in the consumer’s mind. And Nandos has succeeded at that in this case.