Magic Mojo’s breakfast

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I’m by no means addicted to the terribly time-wasting Facebook, but while perusing a few recent postings over the holiday weekend, I noticed Julie Webb mentioning that Mojo’s in East Road, Avondale was open for breakfast: a fact I’d forgotten.

Eating Out with Dusty

So the very next day it was over to Mojo’s, the ONLY restaurant open in East Road at Christmas/New Year: Fishmonger, Da Eros and Great Wall were firmly locked and shuttered for up to a fortnight.

(So much for Zimbo restaurateurs allegedly battling to cover their overheads!)

Mojo’s is principally a churrascarria (Brazilian/Portuguese for steak house); churrasco is barbecue or braai but with much more sophistication than those labels hint and, as I discovered, they also serve fabulous conventional Western breakfasts at affordable prices.

It is set in an extensive classically elegant clipped garden surrounded by stately venerable indigenous and exotic trees. Centre-piece is a therapeutically restful babbling water fountain feeding a rectangular lily pond/water feature amid rolling clipped, manicured lawns. Beautiful white standard roses fill the air with a fresh fragrance.

The place is strong in birdlife, which could be even more prolific if they invested in bird feeders and a wide variety of butterflies fluttered by as I studied the compact menu at about 9:30am with intense heat building rapidly.

A vervet monkey was recently spotted in the grounds.

A pretty, probably recently turned feral, cat has had six charming playful kittens, which the owners and staff have repeatedly failed to catch. I hope they do so quickly, otherwise there will quite soon be 36 or 46 kittens and cats and no birdlife!

Incidentally, before Julie Webb and Mohammed Samy (the last general manager of Sheraton Harare before the international chain washed its hands of Zimbabwe) opened Mojo’s it was previously Bloom Manor Restaurant and prior to that Haddow House, another fine eatery.

The original, eponymous, Miss Haddow owned the Colonial-style property in the 1920s when it was described as being one of the finest formal gardens in the then Salisbury, notwithstanding the fact she owned 80 cats, which must have made life unpleasant for the poor gardeners!

On Saturday, I plumped for a good old fashioned English-style fry-up breakfast of two poached (or scrambled, or fried) fresh eggs, a stack of excellent bacon rashers, beef sausage which was somewhere half-way between a banger and boerewors, oodles of sliced and diced button mushrooms which had been sautéed with caramelised onions, toast, butter and a sharp, tart very good marmalade, which is US$10. (Many hotel breakfasts in Zim nowadays cost an outrageous and totally unjustified US$25-US$27!)

It wasn’t an easy choice as other mouthwatering sound dishes included eggs Benedict with either crispy bacon or smoked salmon on herbed potato rosti (a Swiss speciality) or crispy potato and herb cake with smoked salmon, both at US$7. For the same price is basil frittata (Italian omelette or crust-less quiche) with smoked salmon, basil and horseradish cream.

For US$5 they serve baked eggs with tomato and chorizo (spicy Iberian sausage) or Cheddar baked eggs with red peppers and spring onions. At US$8 there’s a choice or ham, cheese and tomato omelettes, burrito scrambled egg crepes with feta cheese and roasted red peppers or a healthy breakfast of crunchy muesli, Greek yoghurt and fresh fruit drizzled with honey.

At lunch or supper, a splendidly unique eating experience, similar to the Carnivore in Nairobi, begins (maybe after a pre-prandial dop at an amazingly well-stocked cocktail bar) with tapas.

Spanish for snacks, these usually comprise: smoked salmon rolled and stuffed with mozzarella cheese, savoury profiteroles stuffed with chicken livers, vegetarian spring rolls in tempura batter, chicken-spiced yoghurt, pickled stuffed olives, marinated peppers, Mojo salads and Brazilian cheese bread It all comes with pleasant dipping sauces.

The platter would easily feed two people with average appetites as there is two of each different component.

After tapas comes “starch”: par-boiled then twice fried potato wedges which are probably the nicest member of the “chip” family served in Harare, spicy saffron rice and more colourful salads.

And then a carnivore’s dream! Skewers loaded with wonderful meat: carved from a full juicy dripping beef fillet joint, seasoned with sea salt and garlic and smelling wonderful; then there’s fire-roasted spicy beef sausages or chicken ditto; mouthwatering off-bone ribs beautifully seasoned and slow roasted, tender pork fillets encrusted with parmesan and sizzling with flavour.

Mojo’s serves poultry comprising chicken pieces, thighs or drumsticks lightly basted in a special marinade; juicy chicken breast in bacon and chicken fillet.

All these are slow-cooked on skewers over charcoal to retain the natural juices, flavour and, texture.

The mains don’t all come together. There’s a beer-mat sized card on the lavishly appointed table. Green side up, it says “Yes, Please” in English and Portuguese and “gaucho” waiters/carvers will swiftly arrive and serve nyama, by carving it at the table from the huge stainless steel skewers on which it has been cooked.

Reverse it to red and “No Thank You” and they leave you alone until you feel you can perhaps sample a bite more. There’s no limit to the amount of meat you can eat, or how long you take to enjoy it. There’s a wide range of grown-up puddings.

Tapas starters with bread, salads, rice and “fries” and the eat-as-much as you like/can churrasco and pudding costs $25 at supper and US$20 for lunch.

Eat indoors, on the shady verandah or in the lovely gardens. There’s a small conference room and facilities for private receptions and similar, with up to 300 covers.

When I was there on an earlier visit a hire company was erecting a marquee for a garden wedding with about 500 pax.

Mojo’s trades Monday to Saturday breakfast (from 8am) lunch and supper. Fully licensed, well-stocked cocktail bar available for diners only.

Safe on-site parking; guarded additional parking on verges on East Road. Smoking/no smoking. Child and handicapped friendly.
Mojo’s, 10 East Rd, Avondale. Tel 705993/761639 mojos@zol.co.zw
dustym@standard.co.zw

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