UNUSUALLY for me I was ravenously hungry last Sunday night.
An attempt at a braaied breakfast at the house we “borrowed” in Kariba was aborted half-way through as the only wood available was mopani which takes for ever and a day to kindle, flame, then settle to give the necessary heat to barbecue sausages, boerewors and hamburgers and pan-fry tomatoes and eggs in the great outdoors.
We moved half-raw stuff to a well-appointed kitchen, finishing it there, taking piled platters and trays back to a gazebo next to garden braai stand with lovely views through a Zen-peaceful garden to the aquamarine-blue placid lake. (Fully reviewed in this Sundayâ€™s Standard). But breakfast was
At Twin Rivers, they (as usual) had no Zesa and little to eat. Not long ago you could hardly park at the pretty Cape-gabled Karoi road-house on a Sunday lunch. Local tobacco farmers and families enjoyed the hotelâ€™s trademark roasts, there were laid-back family braais in trim, lush gardens; travellers to or from the lake, Chirundu, Zambia or further north, grabbed one of their fabulous and famous signature pies, with or without chips, burgers, hotdogs, superb steak rolls or plain or toasted sandwiches and quick drinks before again hitting the once busy road.
Having called there 10 times in the last nine months, the tariff has consistently been disappointing to say the least. On Sunday we could have egg and bacon or chicken mayo rolls, chete. I asked for the latter, but minus mayonnaise, and youâ€™d have thought Iâ€™d ordered lobster thermidor, after smoked wild Scottish blue mussels on toasted wholemeal bread and before mains of steak-kidney-and-oyster pie with swede-and-turnip mash, Brussels sprouts and caramelised carrots. We were eventually served, after hearing the huku was still “on fire”, a phrase gaining something in translation from the Shona and alarming fellow travellers from overseas.
The food was neither good nor filling, but rather dear. It took ages to be served and much longer for us to pay a bill of $7,68 billion, mainly in $50 million bearer cheques, for five rolls, six beers, a coke and a mineral water. In the 82 minutes we halted there, from just after 1pm, not another solitary diner arrived.
Safely back in Harare (no water; Zesa outage 23 minutes later) and a couple of convivial ales under my belt, I mused over which restaurants opened Sunday nights. The answerâ€™s “not many”. Began to fear retiring uncomfortably hungry, when a guard at Coimbra lifted his arms in the St Andrewâ€™s cross position, indicating theyâ€™d already shut at exactly 8:30pm.
On to Belgravia, where Adrienneâ€™s stood welcoming, almost like an old friend. Itâ€™s nearâ€™s always open (lunch and supper daily); last orders 10pm (later if thereâ€™s a show at Reps or the National Ballet, or by arrangement.)
It was very cold outside, three days into the official highveld winter: much warmer in the plant and flower-festooned greenhouse-style restaurant.
Part-owner Nick Mandeya was
on duty (he usually takes off the Sabbath evening session) and had a big, warm grin and handshake, despite the place being sparsely supported.
Bad news was they didnâ€™t have my favourite steaming hot, thick, nourishing minestrone soup, as originally created by business partner Atilio Vigoreti, adapting his motherâ€™s secret recipe.
The really excellent home-made herby tomato soup was a perfectly acceptable alternate choice; a bowl brimful of tasty goodness, topped with crispy garlic croutons and lots of gooey, melting Parmesan cheese, served with brown Melba toast and real, satisfactorily salty, rich, creamy butter. It was $250 million.
Nick tried to talk me into having the baked Nyanga trout, chips and vegetables he knows Iâ€™m very partial to, at $2 billion, or rump or T-bone steak, $2,6 billion. But the rich Parmesan had me salivating for Italian cuisine and a splendid spaghetti Bolognaise: pasta perfectly al dente, sauce, meaty-tomato-ey and herby (and plenty of it), also $2 billion, went down a treat (plastered with more Parmesan), with a great Greek salad ($900 million.)
Having first declined pudding, I changed my mind when a pretty blue-eyed Afrikaans-speaking blonde HIS teacher, at a nearby table, was served an equally attractive fruit parfait in tall fluted knickerbocker glory glass, as waiters enthusiastically sang Happy Birthday to either her or her mum.
Sadly, that was the last portion, but mention of still-warm, fruit-filled home-baked individual apple tartlet with vanilla ice-cream was too temptingâ€¦and I needed a sugar fix!
All puddings are $380 million: except if you go for possibly currently the best food bargain in town: Adrienneâ€™s Sunday lunch special when soup of the day, roast of the day with all the trimmings and pudding of your choice comes in at a pleasing $1,75 billion table dâ€™hote package deal.
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