A penchant for Pistachio!

IF you read my piece in our sister paper The Standard last Sunday, you’ll recall me bleating about being unable to get a table at either the new Pistachio Coffee Shop, Borrowdale Village or its longer established competitor Deli…cious.

Opinion by Dusty Miller

Well that was on a Thursday lunch time. I returned mid-morning the following Saturday and still couldn’t get it at Deli…cious, but ever eagle-eyed I spotted a party preparing to leave Pistachio, outflanked another would-be punter, grabbing a chair and table inside.

I would have preferred to have eaten outdoors…but beggars can’t be fussy; forgive a mixed metaphor. I also suddenly realised that an old Tiger Tournament fishing pal was at the next table with his wife, so I suppose I could have joined them and freed one more table for the starving masses of Zimbabwe?

Pistachios are nuts originally grow only in The Levant and Middle East, but now cultivated across the Mediterranean and in Australia and California.

I’m sure they’d grow successfully here, but when I was editing an agricultural magazine and touring the then wonderfully productive and diverse farming operations of Zimbabwe I never met anyone producing them.

There’s evidence pistachio trees (they grow up to 10 metres tall) were planted in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and archeologists have found pistachio nuts, shells and nut-cracking devices in Israel dating back 780 000 years!

However, I didn’t spot anything on the menu or on superbly attractive display cases and shelves actually using the pistachio in preparing or finishing dishes. But the corporate colours are white reversed out on the eponymous pistachio green.

Breakfasts sound truly wonderful and are at attractive, affordable prices. (Well, what I deem affordable!)

A classic breakfast of two fried eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, baked beans, toast, jam and butter with bottomless tea or coffee is just US$10 which, I suspect, few could quibble at, especially given the freshness of the food, sparkling cleanliness of the place, quality and quantity of servings on crockery and with cutlery straight out of Home & Garden.

I’m a great breakfast fan; had already had one perhaps three-and-a-half hours earlier, but felt tempted on seeing my friend Harriet’s light French toast, topped with (loads of) crispy bacon and maple syrup (US$8). Her husband, Sean, had the same but crowned with a fried egg for a buck more.

For the health conscious (and I suspect proprietrix, Teresa Muirhead is a dedicated one with her elegant, lithe, willowy figure) there’s yoghurt, berries and granola, also US$8.

I first met Teresa when she was consultant chef at Meikles Hotel’s five-star La Fontaine Grill Room a couple of years ago. She said the family bought the business (ex-Café Allegro, ex Mimi’s etc) in mid-November; it’s been pumping ever since.

She also told me she was related by marriage to the Muirheads who ran the great, grand Grey’s Inn in Bulawayo pre- and immediately post-independence. It was one of the finest pubs in Central Africa, offering comfortable accommodation at sensible prices, a fine table, excellent cellar and wonderful company.

Gerry Muirhead (I last saw en famille on the final sailing of the RMS Windsor Castle from Durban to Southampton in August/September 1977) always insisted it was pure coincidence their bar was the only one I ever found in Africa in the UDI era serving Muirhead’s Silver Seal Speyside Whisky. But I never really believed him!

Muirhead’s (it means top or head of the moor in Gaelic) was originally tied up with the far more famous Glenmorangie Distillery.

Back to breakfast! A three-egg Gruyere cheese omelette with mushrooms, parsley, chives, cherry tomatoes and rocket is US$8 and eggs Benedict, the classic serving of two poached eggs on toast, topped with traditional sauce hollandaise on spinach a dollar dearer.

Savoury croissants include plain with butter and jam at US4 or US$6 with cheddar cheese; Italiano croissants filled with pesto, mozzarella and tomatoes are US$6 as is the butter croissant filled with scrambled or poached eggs with roasted cherry tomatoes and pesto.

The”Billionaire’s Breakfast”—I would tend to think — might cost a small fortune, but not so at Pistachio where the dish is parsley-topped scrambled eggs on fish pate and Parmesan shavings, drizzled with truffle oil at US$8.

Breakfast extras are gypsy ham, mushrooms, bacon or cheddar cheese, US$2 each, minute steak, US$3 and smoked salmon at US$4: so you can create your own truly gourmet meal.

I had the most wonderfully complex almond-and-chocolate croissant which, at the same time as being grown up and sophisticated in flavour would also appeal very much to my grand-children, with a generous sized pot of refreshing rooibos tea with lemon slices the snack cost US$5.

When tall, blonde, cat-walk trim Teresa joined me she brought with her a sort of two-tier fairy or queen cake gorgeously filled with cream and sharp lemon curd and decorated with fresh fruit which she insisted I try.

It would have been churlish, and foolish not to!

For guys who graze with gusto, mains include café beef burger deluxe with caramelised onions, lettuce and tomato on a sesame bun with chips and salads which, at US$10, is the same price as the pasta special of the day or crumbed chicken breast burger. Chicken Milanese or grilled tilapia cost US$14 and seared beef fillet medallions are US$17.

Sandwiches, wraps and Welsh rarebits are US$10/US$12 including a 150g beef fillet steak baguette or bacon, brie, cranberry and rocket.

Having eaten Teresa’s delicious, inexpensive food, beautifully and promptly served in stunningly attractive hygienic surroundings, I understood why it took two tries to secure a place in the 55-seater indoor/outdoor eatery.

Pistachio Café and Restaurant, Shop 19, Borrowdale Village. Tel 0774 280507 pistachiovillage@gmail.com

Fairly child and handicapped friendly. No smoking indoors and I didn’t see anyone lighting up on the stoep. Not licensed to serve alcohol. Opens Monday-to Saturday.

  •     dustym@zimind.co.zw

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