AS dining out grows ever dearer, the more we receive comments like: “We simply can’t afford to go out anymore. The only way we know how unbelieva
bly costly things are is through columns like yours.”
So, many people eat out only vicariously: through restaurant reviews!
Meikles was the scene of the annual orgy of self-congratulation by the advertising industry: the Ngoma Advertising Awards dinner.
One day I’ll ignore the ticket’s instruction on dress: the gala night is described as “strictly black tie/evening wear”.
Perhaps 5% of men complied: one wore a black leather jacket and matching polo neck, another a torn brown open-necked shirt, and a prize-winner — who should have known better — wore a shapeless, disreputable pork-pie hat throughout the night, even on collecting two coveted prizes, one from myself. I didn’t know whether to shake his mitt, or doff a pretend piece of headgear.
However, females present — whether wearing strictly formal “evening wear” or not — were mainly exquisitely dressed and fragranced!
Meikles laid on a great cabaret, much of which I was again to see the next night at the Reps/Afdis Awards of Excellence — you can’t get too much of a good thing.
Table d’hote supper was splendid homemade rich mushroom soup. Coming as it did after wearing wordy waffle, presentations and re-running of the prizewinning ads, I murdered it with warm bread rolls and lovely butter.
Then there was trio of lamb — popular at “banquets” where religious or dietary considerations may preclude beef or pork: leg of lamb, shoulder of lamb and a tasty lamb pasty with mint jelly, lovely gravy, seasonal vegetables and croquette potatoes were served.
Individual “demitos” (demitasse?) “of breathtaking lemon posset” proved pleasant Portuguese pudding that some thought over-sweet, but one I relished. Tea and coffee should have ended the repast; don’t recall it arriving. The evening cost attendees (or their employers) $2,1million each.
Pre-show snacks at Reps, next night, were courtesy of The Cheeseman — a wonderful showcase for its savoury lines. Cheese went particularly well with Afdis wines, served in the new M-Web-sponsored wine bar. Post-show snacks were served on stage to an invited few by the irrepressible Jorika Mhende, caterer at Sables Motor Club.
Back at Meikles, Monday, for high tea, a meal I don’t think I’ve taken other than the almost obligatory ones on mail ships since an aunt socked me one at Harrogate’s Majestic Hotel “celebrating” non-spectacular results of O levels; it cost half a guinea (52½ p). Meikles conventional high tea (for two) is $1,2 million, but over recent holidays — when possibly the country’s best, most spicy hot cross buns featured — that was temporarily raised to $1,8 million.
I stress the price is for two covers for this oh-so civilised meal. If any dainty sandwiches, cakes, scones, jams, butter and jam, hot x buns etc are uneaten, customers are welcome to a doggy bag.
“Tea” is either local, or the imported Twinings range, or coffee. At this function, hosted by Meikles and its publicity gurus, I discreetly asked how much the hotel now charged for lager, as an advertising colleague and I sank several the previous Friday. I was shocked to hear $350 000 each.
An open invitation to foodies for Meikles breakfast over the holiday resulted in me arriving Easter Saturday, mainly because Zesa sabotaged planned boiled egg, tea and toast soldiers and I couldn’t read or write (on the computer), listen to news or watch a movie.
If you eat but once a week, make that meal breakfast at Meikles or the Sheraton (now Rainbow Towers). Local and imported cereals, hot oatmeal porridge, fresh, canned and dried fruits, eggs and bacon, with steak, liver, kidneys, sausages, boerewors, tomatoes, beans, sauté potatoes flapjacks, griddle cakes; toast, croissants, scones, butter, jam, marmalade, honey, savoury spreads etc could be followed (or preceded) by hams, rare roast beef, salami, polony, several cheeses; with lashings of tea, coffee, milky drinks, fruit juices and mineral waters all beautifully displayed and — where appropriate — professionally served.
It was less than a month since I stayed at the Sheraton — just before it changed hands – and breakfast there, then, was $1,7 million. The city’s two five-star hotels almost invariably charge identically but Meikles’ magic morning meal is now $2,8 million, effectively beyond financial reach of most Zimbabwean families.