Much improvement at Parkview, (one of ’em!)

Dusty Miller



MUST give credit where it’s due.


After an extended period when the once popular place plummeted perilously to the pit

s, Parkview Restaurant (one of them!) was back definitely on the right track last week, despite shortages.


Maybe I’m getting more tolerant now the last vestiges of humour have gone out of the pathetically parlous paucity of purchasable proteins, but I only smiled, good naturedly, when veteran head waiter Copper Tembo said there was — sadly — no bread, toast, rolls or Parmesan cheese to accompany an otherwise splendid minestrone soup, at an attractively-priced $100 000.


And merely shrugged when Copper — at the chintzy, cottagey Harare Gardens restaurant (nee Sherrol’s in the Park) 21 years; before that with the eponymous Sherrol at La Pizza, of fond memory, since Pontius was a pilot — broke the sad news the pub had no beer… it had been “out” for a fortnight.


After all, fresh mango juice was undoubtedly better for me, eating outdoors in hot sun, than a couple of pints of icily-chilled wallop in a working day lunch. They had wine: with good South African labels, but no coke or Sprite, only overly-sweet gassy Fanta in unlikely primary colours; no “ordinary” tea, just rooibos.


Bad news was balanced by good.


They had steak: T-bone, fillet or rump, with chips and salads at $1,5 million. That was the same price as my tilapia fillets: two wonderfully meaty, flaky, very white handsome pieces of Kariba bream in an agreeable batter with plenty of good, big, square, golden, crispy chips. A delightfully fresh, young salad featured finely sliced plump black olives and, in addition to tangy dressing, Spanish extra virgin olive oil came in a half-full 750ml bottle.


I chomped away in my staid, slow yeoman-like fashion, to aid digestion, reading a Siegfried Sassoon autobiographical novel of the Great War and watching, warily, to see if a human form, lying recumbent half-in the shade of a bush, moved. The previous night I happened to be enjoying a noggin, or three, in convivial company at the bowls club next door, when word came that a brutal murder had just occurred in that same park.


The victim was reportedly garroted by a gang of muggers, who were probably no better off after the grisly deed. You needn’t be a rocket scientist to work out that anyone walking through the dark, spooky, park, after dusk, on a cloudy night, almost certainly wouldn’t have the price of a cab fare on him.


Murder in this country, where life is cheap, has always been fairly commonplace. I recall a keen young reporter arriving fresh from Scotland, doing the police “calls” at Western Commonage and learning about a fatal stabbing. After hours of painstaking research, face-to-face and phone interviews and getting pictures of the scene-of-crime, he filed a 1 500-word masterpiece of an in-depth story, lavishly illustrated, as, no doubt he’d done often when hellish homicides happened in Hoy, Holyrood, the Hebrides or Holy Loch..


He was much put out to find that his was just one of a couple of dozen slayings that weekend in the Bulawayo townships in the mid-1970s; the lot of them meriting no more than a two-par “filler” on a local news page.


Certainly no one in the bowls club showed deep interest in the dastardly deed and judging by lack of sirens and flashing lights, ZRP (“a force to be reckoned without”) weren’t exactly investigating with the bulldog tenacity and forensic cunning of Detective Inspector Morse!


Parkview Restaurant, now run by Evelyn Dudzai who wasn’t there, clearly hasn’t fully recovered from the days when it was in deep doldrums. A while ago, when Sherrol and her late husband, the charming, urbane Italian Lamberto d’Elia, were almost always there to ensure the minestrone was as absolutely authentic as his mamma made, it was all wall-to-wall diplomats from the US Embassy opposite, NGO staff and sundry Third World Groupies grazing and guzzling as if it were their last meal.


Last week five people ate in the garden, four in the pretty, cool indoor dining room. One drove a brand new Mercedes-Benz almost as long as a Zupco bus. Copper showed his training, tact, diplomacy and discretion. When I whistled at the gleaming car and asked: “Who the hell drives that, shamwari?” he replied laconically: “A good customer, Mr Miller.”


Lamberto would have approved. And he would have had no real objection to the soup; other than the missing ancillary items: all down to Zanu PF misrule.


My kids said Sherrol’s were the best waffles in town. They were the only puddings on offer that day, but are too sweet for me. I drank a perfectly acceptable cup of strongish instant coffee (sorry, Lamberto!) while turning the last pages of the hauntingly cynical understated humour of Memoirs of an Infantry Officer.


The “body” moved. There was no case for Homicide to even half-heartedly investigate.


Parkview Restaurant (not Parkview Brasserie at Crowne Plaza Monomatapa, perhaps 200 metres dead south!) opens for breakfast ($950 000), lunch and supper seven days a week, with late last orders. Tel 725535.


Comments, queries, tips dustym@zimind.co.zw