Borrowdale Bistro booms!

LAST Friday, I was a dining guest of Emirates, the Dubai-based airline with whom I’ve flown several times, twice in the same day!

Eating Out with Dusty Miller

Lunch was at the newish but hugely (and deservedly so) popular eatery The Bistro at Borrowdale, for a lovely meal on the shady stoep on a blistering hot day; supper was a fairly swish buffet at Meikles as Emirates handed out awards to Harare travel agencies which had supported them in the past year.

The events were hosted by Emirate’s country manager for Zimbabwe, an amiable Ethiopian Paulos Legesse and the airline’s publicist for Central Africa, the ultra-efficient Gillian Langmead, who operates out of Lusaka.

There were a few more journalists present, but I got the distinct impression there were a few “no-shows”. Tut-tut, what are young hacks coming to these days?

No one wanted starters, which were limited to gazpacho (cold) soup with baked kefalotiri bruschettas, horseradish and crème fraiche pesto at a fairly eye-watering US$10 or substantial sounding salads, which need to be substantial at US$13 a pop.

So it seemed odd that man-sized, muscular main courses such as pan-fried pork schnitzel with mushroom sauce and a mountain of golden chips and that ultimate comfort food of two big pork bangers with mash and all the trimmings were US$13 and US12 each, respectively.

Lunch is served from 11:30am-2:30pm and sirloin steak roll with caramelised onions, pancetta and a salad garnish was very popular at US$14.

Another oddity was that pan-fried “talapia” (sic: tilapia) which comes from Kariba and looked a modest portion was US$16, whereas an enormous helping of two hake fillets from the ocean and in tempura batter was US$3 cheaper!

I had one of the nicest piquantly flavoured prawn-tail curries with fluffy basmati rice, you’ll be served in Zimbabwe: loads of pink, plump, tasty crustaceans cooked with precision and expertise and a light fruity curry sauce which didn’t mask the delicate taste of the prawns. The dish cost US$18; I judged it superb.

Gillian, on my right, tucked into kefalotiri-baked chicken thighs with pancetta (Italian bacon) rashers and balsamic scented home-made tomato sauce, which she had with handsome looking chips.

With my prawn main course (I didn’t notice a tempting sounding prawn tail-and-calamari combo on the menu at US$17) I had two glasses of dry white wine. Whether this was the house white at US$3 (almost certainly bag-in-box “chateau cardboard” or the U$4 a glass 2013 Darling Cellars Bushvine Sauvignon-Blanc (Platter’s 3,5 stars) I know not, but it was very gluggable.

Special red wine by the glass is Fairview (where the cheese also comes from: I was there recently) La Capra Merlot 2014, also 3,5 in Platter, it also costs US$4.

Several of the restaurant’s dearer wines had sold out; still available were labels from US$12 to US$28 a bottle. If you BYOB, corkage is US$4.

Puddings are US$7 and US$8 apiece and at the former price the few of us who wanted dessert chose delicious warm apple-and-pear crumble with vanilla bean ice-cream and crème Anglaise. I hear good things about Bistro breakfasts and certainly this would be a delightful spot to have such an early meal enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, impeccable service and solid, punchy cooking.

Red-faces all round when Gillian proffered an international credit card to pay for seven meals and drinks and The Bistro (like the vast majority of Zimbabwean restaurants) doesn’t accept “plastic”.

As she had almost no cash on her, we had a classic stand-off until she drove to Borrowdale Village and drew loot from an ATM.

I can’t think why local restaurateurs are hugely averse to joining the rest of the world in the Third Millennium and take cards.

I heard this was a major problem during the recent Jehovah’s Witnesses’ convention when thousands of overseas visitors, who’d probably not handled hard cash in decades, had to “make a plan” or go hungry and return home minus souvenirs and presents.

The Bistro, 2, Kingsmead Road, Borrowdale. Tel 881231. Proprietors Wayne and Trish Napier.

Open breakfast and lunch Tuesday to Sunday; supper Tuesday to Saturday.

A la carte menu. Booking strongly recommended. Fully licensed, well-stocked bar at reasonable prices. Compact wine list. Eating mainly outdoors in weather-proofed conditions near a sparkling pool.

Smoking/non-smoking. Child and fairly handicapped friendly. Safe parking in the garden, guarded outside. dustymiller46@gmail.com, www.dailymiller.co …note .co, NOT .com!)