I’VE SAID it before, and I’ll probably say it again, if you were to eat out but once a year, it’s impossible to better the spoil-you-
for-choice gargantuan breakfast buffet at Meikles Hotel’s Pavilion restaurant.
Hunger is definitely the best sauce and I was hungry with a capital H, having gone to bed supper-less in stygian darkness on yet another Zesa-less Saturday night. Sometime in the wee hours power was obviously restored, because the short-wave radio, routinely tuned to BBC’s World Service, crackled into nerve-jolting, life: the station miraculously metamorphosing to something sounding like the Christian Broadcasting Network of Southfork, North Carolina, from which a strident US southern accent accused me, through pre-dawn ether, of being a sinner!
At 5:45 am precisely, the juice went off again, to be restored for about 20 seconds at exactly 8am; we then got a tiny eructation of electricity at 9 (all of which does wonders for one’s ultra-expensive electrical appliances). At 9:10,dying for a brew and bacon butty, I’d had enough and left home in the general direction of eggs and bacon, tea and toast, before attending an 11am meeting at which it isn’t exactly unknown for copious amounts of ale to be supped. I couldn’t attend on an empty stomach!
Trying to recall which restaurants open on Sunday mornings, I mentally discarded one venue after another driving roughly towards town, then thought: what the hell? Meikles is always open and if the food’s not the cheapest, it’s among Zimbabwe’s very best.
Steaming thick oatmeal porridge with hot milk and lots of sugar for Sassenachs, salt for Scotsmen, is one of the original comfort foods, which I really relished as a change from perhaps eight or 10 local and imported cereals, washed down with the first of countless cups of tea.
The Standard was brought to the table, along with the Sunday Mail and previous day’s Herald. It is very civilised to be offered papers with breakfast. All three scanned (The Herald food crit enjoyed fillets of “brim” somewhere the previous week!) before returning to the groaning buffet and choosing Spanish omelette (“with lots of mushrooms, please”).
Bacon is folded into the largely vegetarian crepe filling in this always delightful, any time of night or day dish; with it went a couple of pork chipolatas, grilled tomato, tiny soupcon of baked beans, mere hint of devilled kidney, flapjack and potato cake.
There were perhaps three or four other types of sausage and boerewors available, liver, steak, fish goujons sautéed potatoes and sautéed onions and every sort of egg presentation imaginable. Apart from omelettes with any filling one could fancy, they offer ready-made scrambled eggs; fried: sunyside-up or easy over, poached or boiled to order.
Fresh hot toast, white or brown, was delivered, along with new cup and saucer for yet more welcome tea. There is butter, good tart, tangy, thickly-shredded marmalade or apricot jam at the table; more sweet preserves, honey and beef or vegetable extract spreads are at the buffet. There are also three different fresh fruit juices and still or sparkling mineral water.
After the main breakfast course, had fruit (usually the other way round, but getting fed up of ploughing through several incidental dishes to find I’m too replete to enjoy egg-and-bacon staples.)
There was fresh fruit: mangos, guavas, pineapple, apple, orange, banana, naatjies, conventional and blood-red grapefruit, grapes, mixed fruit salad; canned fruits; energy-rich dried fruits: currants, raisins, sultanas and the like, nuts and muesli and plain and flavoured yoghurts.
In addition to the full, grossly mis-named, English breakfast detailed above (when did English folk eat like that, since King Edward VII?) or instead of, if preferred —there was Continental breakfast of pastries, cold ham, beef, tongue, salami, polony and at least five types of cheese with a fruit confit.
Finished the final drop of the umpteenth cup of tea, wiped marmalade-smeared brown whole-meal toast crumbs from mouth, filled-in the last answer in the Standard’s crossword puzzle, then realised, with a start, I’d seven minutes to drive four clicks to the meeting.
This cornucopia of goodness, enjoyed in stunning surroundings, overlooking the hotel’s verdant, bird, bee and standard rose-filled, roof garden, with pleasant music playing at an agreeable level, currently costs $2,9 million and is served daily.
Highly recommended, but don’t plan Sunday lunch!
* The Pavilion, Meikles Hotel, CBD, open for breakfast/brunch and lunch daily. Tel 795655.