THREE-and-a-half years after DV8 fairly suddenly closed at Groombridge — one of several properties knocked down to make way for Bridge Spar — it finally reopened at Kamfinsa Park almost a year ago.
I was at the final lunch at Groombridge. Coincidentally it was a Sunday and the English-style roast with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings, after soup and before nursery school-style puddings was always a winner there.
DV8 is a family-run restaurant and partner James Davies insisted I should be at Kamfinsa for its first day of operations on December 1 last year, just before I left for South Australia and The Gulf. At supper, there were major problems, but that’s water under the bridge. (Where? Which bridge? Says my typesetter, who hasn’t had potable water through her taps for weeks!)
It was due for a re-visit anytime soon and I went there last Saturday lunch because I’d heard one or two moans from former loyal punters about real or imagined shortcomings and as I’d been accused (falsely) the previous day by an avid reader of “never” ordering, eating or writing about beefsteak, probably Zimbabwe’s favourite dish and “always” going for prawns or other dear seafood dishes.
I actually ate good fillet steak on two days running recently, but didn’t order either and up to now hadn’t previously written about them. Once was at the Italian Club when fillet was served as a no-option main course in a lovely set lunch for Greendale Good Food & Wine Appreciation Society on Friday September 27. The next day for our first supper cooked and served at our fisherman’s chalet at Charara in advance of the Kariba Invitation Tiger Fish Tournament, fillet steak, egg and chips were plonked down before us, no argument. I thoroughly enjoyed both dishes.
DV8’s slogan is “Steaks You Leave Home For”. Actually I left home for a few hours because we had yet another power cut, hence no fans to cool frazzling indoor heat and it wasn’t much cooler under breezeless dappled shade of a jacaranda tree on my stoep.
I sat on the verandah at DV8 relishing intermittent breeze from two directions and almost total shade. A delightfully chilled Golden Pilsener Lager also helped cool me as I perused the menu.
A crisp, crunchy, colourfully comprehensive Greek salad, better dressed than I was and rich in different types of unctuous olives and delightfully salty feta cheese with luscious tomatoes followed home-baked super fresh loose crumbed cottage loaf, for which the restaurant is renowned to my table. The chingwa came with salted or garlic butter and proved very more-ish. Greek salad came with different types of lettuce leaf in its composition, which, authentically, shouldn’t be there, but I’m not pedantic.
I ate some of it as the intended starter course but most
accompanying my mains, a 260g medium-rare fillet steak, enormous Idaho-style jacket baked potato with sour cream and seasonal veg.
Salad was scrumptious. I’m not totally convinced it was US$8 scrumptious, but this seems to be the going rate at most Harare eateries. To be fair it would probably feed two as an appetiser.
Other starters include garlic bread, mushroom soup, chicken livers or devilled kidneys at US$5 a pop, chicken giblets, super spuds or fried haloumi at US$6 and the prawn-scampi speciality I forced myself to avoid at US$9!
Name DV8 explained
DV8 (Groombridge was so far out of town you had to Dee-Vee-Ate to get there…geddit?)and the same applies at Kamfinsa, where you must deviate even farther, especially bearing in mid the parlous state of Harare Municipality roads and taking into consideration the horrendous driving that has become much worse in past four-and-a-half years.
Fillet steak: 260g flash dipped in a special basting sauce and char-grilled cost between US$18 and US$22 depending upon which, if any, sauce you want it topping with. My feeling is fillet is easily the most tender and readily digestible of any beefsteak cut but lacks the flavour of rump, entrecote, sirloin or T-bone. Hence my rather wonderful mushroom sauce and the US$20 bill.
All beef is selected from export quality herds, hung for 21 days and cooked by, or under the watchful eye of, head chef Claudius Mupawana, who held that post at Groombridge, but was traced to and head-hunted back from Hermanus in the Cape to DV8’s state-of-the-art and then brand new kitchens.
In the past I’ve had Claudius’s wonderful Kariba bream: two lovely pearlescent fillets, grilled and served with chips, baked potato or rice and sauce tartare.
South African white wines cost from US$10 (Pearly Bay Sweet White) to US$18 (Graham Beck’s Cab-Sauv or Game Reserve Chardonnay.) Cape Reds are US$12 (Van Loveren Estate River Red) to US$22 (Cloof Very Sexy Shiraz). Rosés are US$9 and US$10. By the glass, whites and reds are US$2,50 and rosé US$2; local beer US$2 each. Corkage seems to be a moveable feast! Nothing for biggish parties; US$2 if they don’t stock the wine you take; US$5 if they do!
The purpose-built 160-seater restaurant is an odd combination of stark minimalism (bare concrete-screed floor and IBR roof sheets) with luxury touches like acres of etched glass and repro French Empire chandeliers.
I was too stuffed for puddings, which are US$4 to US$7. From the top end, previously, I have tremendously enjoyed an ebony and ivory: white and dark chocolate mousses layered under vanilla ice-cream, topped with a plump strawberry.
On Saturday, I ended with a Caturra (Brazilian) cappuccino which—I think — DV8 sells exclusively in Zim; they also make great milk shakes.
Bottom line: Greek salad: steak mains, two lagers, cappuccino US$32,50 rounded DOWN (Hallelujah!. That’s a first!) to US$32.
DV8, George Square, Kamfinsa (underneath Pick ‘n’Pay). Open for breakfast 8am to supper 11pm on Saturdays; to 4pm Sundays; weekdays lunch to super, straight through. Fully licensed, well stocked bar (diners only). Smoking on stoep, bar and lounge; no smoking main dining room; child’s play room and non-patronising kiddies’ menu; handicap friendly; live music Wednesday and Saturday evenings; safe parking.