Food and Travel: A right ‘Royal’ lunch!

I CAN think of far worse places to spend a lunch break on a sweltering, shimmering November Harare Monday than the airy verandah of Royal Harare Golf Club, in good company, enjoying a newly launched great value table d’hôte meal and a brace of chilled articles of a moderately intoxicating nature.

The restaurant operates on the elegant club’s first floor, offering a hugely impressive lush green vista of manicured greens, exceedingly fair fairways with indigenous and exotic trees of venerable vintage providing welcome patches of dappled shade.
You needn’t be a member of the ultra-swish, more than a century old, “Royal” to partake in a mid-day meal which ticks all the right boxes and satisfies many senses. But you must dress as if you were one of that august well-heeled body. Collared shirts only (no tee-shirts); long trousers are absolutely de rigueur.
I hardly ever wear tee-shirts, other than on Lake Kariba or other stretches of water, driving or being a passenger in a speedboat.
The powerful wind vortex created as you skim over the waves, causes shirt collars to painfully beat the bejasus out of the bits of flesh (like ears, nose and cheeks) they can reach.
I do, however, routinely wear tailored shorts to work, other than maybe two or three of the coldest weeks of June and July. Recalling a golf club assignation at the 11th hour (well, 08:27 to be precise!) prompted me to don chinos to avoid embarrassment. (To avoid being denied entry …or chucked out!)
“Royal’s” security guard on the gate boom wasn’t exactly a living picture of the warmest welcome I’d ever had, sneering down his nose at my old, but hugely reliable, clunker, but he grew more polite when he heard I was having lunch with Mauro Sportiello who, despite sounding like a supporting player in Godfather III, is managing director of Introwise Commercial Catering, which took over the golf club’s kitchens about five months ago from Servcor.
Rob Dobson is general manager of the company and in charge of the Royal scenario. He met me in the reception; we walked up the impressive open plan staircase to a suite of beautifully proportioned rooms which are available to the public for AGMs, board meetings, receptions, cocktail parties, conferences and the like. Introwise does the food, tea and coffees, Royal Harare Golf Club’s bar the booze. It’s a marriage which seems to work well. I’m not –– currently — planning a conference for up to 200 pax, cocktail party or banquet for 150, but have done so countless times in several countries over the years. 
But certainly there could be few better venues in Ha-ha-ha-rare, with a constant light refreshing breeze whispering through the trees to counter soporific speeches, almost unlimited free safe parking, five minutes’ drive from the CBD, 10 minutes’ from my office.
I was, however anticipating lunch, washed down by two –– or should we settle for three? –– ice-cold Pilsener Lagers to break up the day.
Monday to Saturday there are two delicious courses served swiftly and civilly for US$10. I had scrumptious deep-fried crumbed mushrooms with tartare sauce and good salad garnish to begin with, but also sampled golden haloumi cheese with rosella jelly and had a single calamari ring from a sample platter. Starters also include marinated chicken salad.
Rob had chicken cordon bleu, a dish I love but find rather digestion-challengingly rich as it’s huku breast stuffed with ham and melted cheese.
Mauro and I both plumped for juicy fillets of hake with lemon butter and tartare sauce which came with a generous kopje of great crisp golden chips and al dente young steamed vegetables.
The dish was competently and sensitively cooked, attractively presented, and served on professionally hot plates.
Other mains on the US$10 special deal were honey-glazed pork chops, grilled rump steak with pepper, garlic or mushroom sauce or chicken “sandaman” (new one on me!): chicken breast pan-fried, topped with mushrooms.
Puddings were unlisted on the menu card, but I recall the ubiquitous ice-cream and chocolate sauce, cheesecake and the very comprehensively compiled, extremely fresh fruit salad and vanilla ice-cream I ended with.
Any two courses are US$10, three for US$13. I hear a table-groaning, waist-band bursting Sunday lunch buffet/carvery is spectacular at US$15. Meals are half-price for children under 12. (Foolish: ankle-biters often eat twice the amount of adults and 10 times more than pensioners!)
If you are a Royal member, the Monday to Saturday lunch tariff offers a 20% discount and 10% is lopped off Sunday’s bill.
The club restaurant is open to the public (I assume paid up members, rightly, have priority). Booking is vital: 702920 or 077405 7953; royalcatering@zol.co.zw

Queries, comments, suggestions: dustym@zimind.co.zw

 

Dusty Miller