I felt very sorry for the likeable partners in Adrienne’s Restaurant (the one which looks like a greenhouse) at Belgravia, Harare recently.
Eating Out with Dusty Miller
For the international fast-food chain KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken, originally Colonel Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken) finally re-opened a branch in Harare — there was one in the CBD years ago which failed miserably—and chose, inexplicably, to operate from the nearby already extremely busy fuel station in Belgravia.
For the first three weeks, until the initial novelty began to wear a bit thin, you couldn’t have safely parked a go-kart in the Belgravia car-park, usually full to the gills anyway; much more so when there’s a winning show at Reps Theatre or the National Ballet. Hardly anyone could get to Adrienne’s.
Punters are still pouring in to KFC for much needed deep-fat fryer fixes, as if there’s no liquidity crisis, but the initial intense pressure seems to be off.
A friend of mine who lives and trades in the area is convinced Zuva fuel station could blow sky-high soon, as customers replete with chicken, chips and cola take a post-prandial cigarette break above brimming tanks of petrol and diesel; motorists stupidly flick burning fag-ends out of car windows!
I grabbed the last car-park on Thursday lunch time, roughly midway between Adrienne’s and the Stanbic Bank, which was my next port-of-call.
Adrienne’s was fairly busy.
Since they opened to tremendous acclaim in 2000 (having moved from the award-winning L’Escargot at the Courteney Hotel) I’ve seen this restaurant with folk queuing outside for a table but on a few occasions there’s been me and my guest, or even just moi!
Nodding to acquaintances, I grabbed a pleasant table. A large plasma screen TV at high level is new.
As it was showing some mindless American soapy and no one else watched I asked to switch to Sky (confessions of a news junky!) but ”someone” buggered up the remote control the night before.
Adrienne’s menu is much more compact than was the case. As soup of the day (US$3) was butternut (my least favourite) I went for a pleasant tasty starter dish of sautéed mushrooms with herbs on a fringe of salad garnish with buttered toast to mop up the sauce (US$5).
Other appetisers are creamy chicken livers at US$4 and a duet of beef samoosas and vegetarian spring rolls (US$5.)
They make very fine salads: chicken and Greek at US$5 for a “small” one and US$6 for normal or French at US$2 and US$3 respectively, but I gave rabbit food a miss this time.
Light meals include hamburger and chips (US$5), vegetarian patties topped with garlic and tomato sauce at US$6 and crispy chicken goujons or spaghetti Bolognaise (a recipe from sleeping partner Atilio Vigoriti’s grand-mamma!) at US$7 apiece.
As usual, I eschewed red meat but fillets steaks are US$14; T-bones or rump US$15 including free sauce (mushroom, creamy garlic or pepper.) Not long ago I had a T-bone with lovely baked potato and fresh veg. I loved it… it didn’t like me! This time it was deep-fried calamari: a very generous portion, beautifully cooked.
(If they aren’t they can be almost inedible) with veg and half savoury rice and half chips. That was US$12, as were fish and chips (hake) and Kariba bream fillets and chips; Mozambique prawns (they’re usually superb) cost US$18.
Half chicken, plain or piri-piri or chicken schnitzels are US$10; pork chops US$13 (they get the Miller seal of approval) as does Madras lamb curry with all the bits and pieces at US$14 and oxtail semanyika with sadza or other starch, US$15. They used to do a superb prawn curry.
It’s no longer on the menu, but I have a nice picture of it, so may use it, space permitting!
I chatted to hands-on partner Nick Mandeya at my table when his cellphone rang and his face became wreathed in a smile as he took the first booking for Christmas Day lunch for two, from a loyal customer who’s eaten there every Christmas Day since the turn of the millennium.
Puddings are US$3-US$4; at the lower end of the scale I opted for a fruit-filled home-made apple tartlet and ice-cream. Adrienne’s is fully licensed with a well-stocked cocktail bar, now in the main dining area, which I think an improvement.