Legendary is the word that comes to mind when Tony’s is mentioned – for the quality and richness of his cakes, the number of different teas (not far off a hundred on a quick count) and coffees, and prices that reflect the sheer luxury that is offered here.
Report by Le Connoisseur
I’m reminded of when I lived in London and one of my wished for and finally achieved treats was afternoon tea at The Ritz Hotel. So it is with Tony’s, for anyone visiting the Vumba, a treat where cost takes second place to the experience.
The 28km drive from Mutare towards Leopard Rock Hotel is itself mind-boggling, a steep windy climb with magnificent views down to hot and dusty Mutare some 600m below and magnificent mountains in the distance.
As we pulled into the parking area, the sound of boiling water greeted us, alas it was not from the kettle in Tony’s kitchen but from my vehicle’s radiator!
The presence of several rugged South African vehicles in the car park gave me hope that someone would be able to do the necessary roadside repairs, and so we did not allow this small problem to spoil our much-anticipated visit.
The menu, and there appeared to be only the one, is hand-written; listing on one side, the vast selection of teas (US$6) and on the other, the selection of coffees , hot chocolates , cold drinks, alcohol shots (US$4-US$10) and cakes (US$9-US$12).
As is my habit, I ordered the daily special, Austrian Coffee Cake. It arrived smothered in fresh cream and meringue and beautifully decorated with a Nasturtium flower.
My companion had no difficulty in choosing the Chocolate Whiskey Cake, for which Tony’s is renowned, and which was equally beautifully presented.
In Tony’s own words, as he was charmingly on hand to guide our choices, my cake could be eaten by “those with no teeth”, but the Chocolate Cake was dense and needed a knife to cut it as well as teeth to eat it!
There were other mouth-watering cakes on offer, including; Brandied Fruit, White Chocolate Cheesecake and Orange.
Unfortunately, the only outside table was occupied by the large South African party, so we ate inside. It was good to see two of the other tables occupied, and I noticed one couple sensibly sharing what was a very generous single slice of cake. Tony’s Coffee Shop fully deserves its reputation for excellence as well as uniqueness.
The deliciousness of the cakes and the creativity of the menu is unforgettable.
Although the restaurant is small, the even smaller car parking space can be a problem. When we wanted to leave, we had to disturb our fellow guests who had no alternative but to park behind us and box us in.
I hasten to add that I would much rather settle for this minor inconvenience than contemplate cutting down a single one of the magnificent old trees which provide natural shade!
Lest you wonder how we fared with our overheated engine — alas! Though charmingly helpful, the South African party could not fix what turned out to be a major problem.
A radiator full of water enabled us to limp to our overnight destination a few kilometres away from where we were rescued some 48 hours later by a mechanic from Mutare.
I can think of no more idyllic place in which to be marooned; we resisted the temptation to walk to Tony’s for a repeat visit and settled happily for total relaxation in our bird lover’s paradise under a perfect blue sky.
Expect to spend US$15-US$20 per head
28km peg, Vumba Road, Vumba