Written by Husen Fulhu
Barcelos, a South African grilled chicken franchise, opened up an outlet here in Male' earlier this year.
It’s been said that the franchise is a knock-off of Nandos, another South African chicken venture, but
maybe it’s like MacDonald’s and Burger King.
When it comes to their chicken, Barcelos is hardly chicken. It’s the brunt of their business. We take a
booth upstairs and place our order: a half chicken with a mild peri sauce and Dippa wings in veri-peri
sauce accompanied by a dip of peri-mayo and a regular side of chips.
The interior is contemporary-meets-indigenous with tribal motifs appearing in the screens between
booths, in lamps. It has a decidedly cheerful ambiance, and upbeat renditions of bossanova classics and
certain Buena Vista Social Club tunes play in the background. The music isn’t overbearing, it’s ready to
be noticed if you want.
It doesn’t take long for the food to arrive, less than ten minutes since placing our orders. We dig in to
the half chicken, it’s got a generous cover of skin soaked in the peri-sauce, and is full of flavour. The
meat is soft and succulent. This is precisely how it should be. We add a bit of supa-peri to spice it up. If
you’re a real masochist, though, you could ask for your chicken to be doused in their flaming peri-sauce,
which we try a bit cautiously, putting a dab on a piece of chicken. It’s a bit overwhelming, but we’re told
by a smiling waiter that it’s a hit with locals.
Later, we munch on the Dippa wings; six pieces of chicken that are flame grilled and taste much the
same as our main. The peri-mayo sauce served with the wings is superfluous because the wings’ veri-
peri sauce pretty much neutralises any other flavour. However, at 75 MVR, Dippa is a good, value-for-
money side but you should probably give it a miss if your mains are going to be chicken.
The regular side of chips we get is on the small side, having arrived on the same plate as the chicken. So,
we ask for an extra side of chips, which arrives in a bowl; a significantly larger serving. The chips are fat,
crunchy on the outside and mushy within, no complaints there. We make generous use of the peri-mayo
dip (that we got with the Dippa wings), which adds a welcome bouquet of sweet notes.
The bill isn’t too hefty, but at 355MVR for one main, two sides and water, it’s certainly not cheap. Our
verdict: if you don’t mind shelling out a bit of money for good chicken, you can’t go wrong with Barcelos.