ONE OF Harare’s best-kept culinary secrets is a bracing outdoors brunch based on fishy things which are good to eat at The Codfather in green, leafy Chisipite in Harare’s plush northern suburbs.
Column by Dusty Miller
They don’t serve before 10am. I arrived there 40 minutes after that time to find staff still busy sweeping, wiping and generally tidying up after a major Hooley the previous night.
They soon cleared a table and had everything shipshape for me, but generally it’s more professional if a restaurant is gleaming and ready to hit the ground running five minutes before shutters go up, not nearly an hour later!
Anyway, the air was crisp and brisk with the promise of much heat if the rains stayed away. The vista is of a hundred shades of green, the restaurant being in yet another former colonial era home set amid a vast tract of rolling bush-like countryside 15 minutes from the CBD.
Background music is joyous birdsong; butterflies flutter by.
An all-day breakfast menu features great crispy fish cakes with a home-made tomato sauce at US$7 or breakfast omelettes, fluffy and stuffed with prawns, smoked salmon or cheese with chips, costing US$9, or haddock Mornay (the smoked fish, lying on a bed of spinach is served with a poached egg on scrumptious cheese sauce at US$12.)
Or my old favourite kippers!
The menu states grilled kippers with “an egg” of your choice and tomato on toast with marmalade. I’ve enjoyed this dish several times and so have folk at neighbouring tables and it’s always come with two eggs, usually poached as is traditional, costing US$8.
I’ve always asked for extra hot toast and butter in order to do justice to the tangy adult-flavoured large shred marmalade, which has come at no extra cost. Similarly a second cafetiere of grand strongly brewed coffee has always been served but there’s no additional US$2 on the bill.
Cold-smoked Kippers (because not all readers are familiar with international culinary terms) are whole herrings: a small oily fish, mainly caught in the North and Irish Seas, which are split from head to tail, gutted, salted or pickled and cold-smoked.
Out of favour for many years, possibly because of their tendency to “repeat” (make you belch…and second hand smoky-salty fish is not something you want to be downwind of!) kippers have made a huge comeback in Europe (especially the UK).
Although traditionally served at breakfast, they often comprise the principal ingredient in high tea.
Wherever I travel, I always look for kippers on breakfast menus, but often without luck in dear old Zim. I enjoy them at Nesbitt Castle in Bulawayo and they’re always on the menu at Butcher’s Kitchen, Borrowdale, sometimes at Spring Fever, Rowland Square.
Kippers came with fresh, large, tasty eggs: cooked exactly as ordered: poached and very soft, their runny buttercup yellow yolks mingled with smoky fish and was dipped into by hot buttery toast, and there wasn’t a smear left on the plate!
The Codfather, run by the Deeres (Jacquie and “Nibs”) has traded since 2011. For many years they’ve operated their major business: Sealife Seafoods, wholesaling and retailing fish, shellfish and other seafood at Rolf Valley.
Jacquie told me: “Opening a restaurant serving the sort of produce we import from all over the world seemed to make sense.”
Indeed it did!
Brunch is served Sunday only; otherwise it’s lunch and supper Monday to Saturday; brunch and lunch Sundays.
Classical seafood soup of the day is excellent value at US$4; starter platter of four fishy appetisers (enough for a couple) costs US$18, one of the starters sold separately is US$6. When avocados are in season, avo Ritz with five medium or three large prawns costs US$12 and l’escargot (snails) are US$6.
Green or Greek salads cost US$6 and US$9 respectively and a very substantial prawn or smoked salmon salad is US$15.
Combos featuring on the main course list include half a portion of prawns and fish fillet at US$24 (US$14 if you have calamari rings instead of prawns); half calamari-half prawns are also US$24. Calamari and chips will set you back US$10, or it’s US$7 for a half portion, which would be enough for most appetites.
A mountain of prawns and chips is US$30, or US$17 a half portion; mussels Provençale in a creamy garlic sauce with great crusty hot bread costs US$15; prawn curry is US$20, Thai green fish curry US$15 and vegetarian pasta US$8. There’s a children’s menu (and supervised playground.)
For mains last time I lunched there, I chose “posh fish and chips of the day”, which is still US$15. It was totally delicious: whole Namibian sole, the subtly rich flesh of which lifted cleanly off the skeleton in two swift movements per side.
The fish, overlapping an oval platter both ends, was cooked faultlessly; smallish chips were piping hot, floury within, crisp, golden exteriors and were exemplary.
A liquor licence application is in; but, in the meantime, BYOB: no corkage. There’s a wide range of cool drinks and non-alcoholic Malawi and club shandies available. I had a splendid cafetiere of strong filter breakfast coffee at US$2 and then, still thirsty, a chilled Sprite lemonade at the same price.
The Codfather, 15 Dacomb Drive, Chisipite. Tel 498021/3; fax 498022; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com . Open Monday-to-Saturday lunch and supper; Sunday breakfast and lunch; fish braai available Sundays. Booking recommended weekdays, vital weekends.