THEY say you always remember your first time.

That awkward moment when she asks if you know what you’re doing.

The glares when you gasp for a drink after realising you’ve punched way out of your league.

And the sweat dripping down your forehead when it’s all over.

I’m talking about my first Nando’s, of course. Get your mind out of the gutter, folks.

I’ll admit, I was pretty late to the Peri game, but once I was in, I was hooked. I moved into my own flat almost a year ago and I’m too ashamed to count the times I’ve had one delivered.

When lockdown began and Nando’s revealed they’d be shutting up shop for the meantime, I was heartbroken.

So, when it came to picking my restaurant of choice for my food review, it was simple: find a lockdown replacement to my wonderful Nando’s.

And guys… I’ve found it.

My strategy was simple. Stick to as close an order as I normally would get – spice level and everything.

I opted for five peri-peri chicken wings to start, then a peri-peri butterfly chicken with peri chips for main – both flavoured ‘mild’.

Yes, mild. Fight me about it. At least I’m not one of those lemon and herb people. You know the ones.

I also got an Irn-Bru which came in a glass bottle – nice!

The meal arrived in around 35 minutes. Unpackaging the starter I was hit with an immediate good sign…the bag was dripping of sauce.

To my delight, my five wings starter actually contained seven pieces. What a bargain!

The flavour of the wings, coated in sauce, was unreal. Personally, I’d argue they were a bit spicy for a ‘mild’ ranking, but I heavily enjoyed it nonetheless.

The main meal let me a down a little bit. After the bountiful layering of sauce on the wings, I expected the same on my butterfly chicken.

Alas, it was dry. I even tried to scrape some sauce off my empty wings plate onto it.

The chips were good. Skinnier than Nando’s, but the peri-peri salt tasted almost identical – fair play to Porto Peri Peri!

If anything, I’m left a bit disappointed writing this – but for the right reasons. I was hoping this challenge would lead me to try different peri joints in my search to fill that Nando’s shaped hole in my heart.

But I’ve already found it.

Where: Porto Peri Peri

Location: Shawlands

Type: Peri Peri

Cost: £15.75

Rating: 4/5 stars