I WAS hungrier than would normally be the case at Adrienne’s Restaurant in Belgravia last Friday lunch (sampling a new menu), because we waited ages for two “foodies” who didn’t pitch up.
No shows (people who book a table, so the proprietor turns away other hopeful diners, but then, rudely and expensively, don’t make an appearance or phone an apology,) are annoying for any restaurater.
I have been long enough in this journalism racket (too long, some might say!) to get seriously miffed when neither the Herald of Total Honesty’s newly emerged Lifestyle editor and food critic, Monica Cheru-Mbapawashe, nor Joseph Bunga, of Eating Out (an on-line publication, not my column in The Standard) don’t bother to turn up or send apologies, having assured the organiser they would be there.
Particularly when the rest of us wait 45 minutes before ordering… out of misplaced politeness.
Mind you, a couple of weeks ago, Monica’s Saturday morning article in The Herald of Absolute Candour, spent much of its 500 or 600 words rambling on about how a restaurant called “Rafik’s” (a Moslem surname) could specialise in pork products. Can pork be halaal, she rhetorically (or naively?) asked readers?
Well, of course it can’t (although I once played at a Jewish golf club where bacon and eggs served at breakfast or brunch were mendaciously, described on the menu as “Kosher white beef and eggs!”)
The problem is, dear Monica, that the “Rafik’s” in your headline and body copy, is actually called (in real life and massive signage) Rafiki’s! Rafiki, means “friend” in Swahili and is also the name of a tree-swinging simian cartoon character with a blue bum in Walt Disney’s Lion King film.
Rafiki’s also belongs to Colcom, who have been specialising in pork products probably since before your parents were born! So, perhaps, she went to Alexander’s, Alo Alo, Amanzi, Arnaldo’s or The Ambassador instead?
There…. who says (most ungrammatically) “ dog don’t eat dog?” Anyway, Adrienne’s new menu, introduced and outlined by amiable chef/proprietor Nick Mandeya, was definitely worth waiting for, and a refreshingly chilled article of a mildly intoxicating nature (or three) helped while away the time fruitlessly waiting for the errant hacks, or the common courtesy of a phone call or SMS.
I almost never say no to any smoked fish dish. Our own local smoked trout, trout kippers and trout paté from the glorious Nyanga area seem to have disappeared. (Don’t tell me… the so-called war vets “liberated” the trout farm to grow mealies on the banks and poisoned the water with fertiliser? )
Sadly, something like that WILL be the answer!
Adrienne’s smoked salmon is organically produced by Loch Duart in Scotland and flown into Zim each Friday, along with fresh salmon, tuna, mussels and live oysters (see my write-up on Leonardo’s in last Sunday’s Standard.) With fresh, nutty, brown bread and butter, freshly ground black pepper, horseradish sauce and a squeeze of lemon for the required acidity, it was a totally splendid taste of the North Sea, at US$6.
My companion thoroughly enjoyed a US$4 African butternut and peanut-butter pancake. Definitely not a load of old crepe, was the judgment.
My Mr Glutton persona had taken over from the “I’ll never eat all that”! incarnation and calypso fish cakes (also US$4), were beautifully presented and also tasted wonderful. I had planned to have two starters and no main course and certainly these generously portioned fish cakes: almost solid fish: kingklip, hake and bream combined, crumbed, deep fried and served with a Rosemarie type sauce, ticked all the right boxes. So often, fish cakes are mainly flavoured mashed potato, hardly any fish and the rest bread crumbs or soggy batter.
My companion identified a mutual friend who had twice eaten fish cakes there as a main course; I would have no problem with that concept, with a few chips or other starch.
Nick has introduced a London-style beer-battered fish and chips dish at US$10 on the new menu, but having already eaten salmon and fish cakes, I fought the temptation of this traditional Friday feast. At his suggestion, I tried spicy garlic pork, stir-fried with lovely al dente vegetables and lots of moreish button mushrooms, also US$10.
I have to say it was a wee bit over-spicy and sinus-draining for my more pedestrian palate, but if they cut down the chili content by about half, I’d certainly order it again. The nyama element was wonderfully delicious, fat free, pork fillet and presentation: with a big, steaming, floury baked jacket potato, stupendous.
My companion also went for dead pig: grilled pork chops a la Portuguese with long grain rice, vegetables and a tomato-rich sauce, which is not “new” and costs US$12. More conservative readers will be pleased to learn that many of Adrienne’s long-standing favourite dishes are still on the new menu, including salads, pastas, braised oxtail samanyika, curries and lamb shank.
The grilled steaks are now thicker, juicier and longer hung, supplied by one of Harare’s top suburban butchers. Rumps, sirloins and T-bones are 500g at US$15; fillet weighs-in at 350g, costing US$17, sauces are both complementary and complimentary!
Puddings are US$2-US$4. Meringue Madam Butterfly and cheesecake are new, but I had the fresh fruit salad and ice-cream and “ MC” apple crumble and ice-cream from the old favourites’ tariff at US$3 each.
Adrienne’s (often known as The Greenhouse Restaurant) Belgravia Shopping Centre, off 2nd Street Extension, Harare (Tel: 335602) opens for lunch and supper daily. Booking (by non no-show punters!) is recommended for supper when there’s a show running at Reps Theatre, almost next door.