TWO Friday lunches running found me in Belgravia, much tarted up by the efforts of the property owners’ and tenants’ association, although car-park pot-holes are definitely off-putting, tyre-threatening as they are.
At always welcoming Adrienne’s greenhouse style restaurant, I found that since a last visit several months ago, they, too, had sensibly introduced a daily special packaged deal menu, which seemed to work as the eatery was fuller on a lunchtime than I have seen it in yonks.
Soup of the day, a main course of chicken schnitzel and ice-cream cost $10 and I was pleased to see that on SOME days (Tuesdays and Thursdays?) soup and a substantial toasted sandwich were available at $5, something that should appeal to ladies who lunch and the more skint members of the community!
I thoroughly enjoyed a piping hot, steamy nourishing home-made vegetable soup, packed with goodness, with toast and butter at just $2, followed by three meaty, flavour-filled lamb chops with piquant mint sauce, a good-sized jacket floury baked potato and slightly al dente steamed courgettes, green beans and carrots.
The nyama was cooked exactly as ordered: meat pink, juicy, just slightly underdone, yet the fringe of fat crispy, crunchy, succulent and, of course, terribly bad for you! One of the dearer a la carte mains, it cost $12.
Glowing with pride when I praised the quality of lamb: hung the requisite period following curtailed gambolling in lush, green pastures of Chivhu (neÃ© die Republiek van Enkeldoorn!) partner Nick Mandeya revealed it was sourced from a farmer there named Theron. Well done Meneer T, excellent produce! I look forward to sampling Nick’s renowned lamb shank on the next cold day in Harare.
Puddings are $2. My eyes rarely wander farther down the menu than the dinky home-produced individual apple pies; this visit was no exception. Steamy, with just a hint of the tartness coming from proper cooking (versus dessert) apples, anointed with a splodge of vanilla ice-cream, it was first rate.
Adrienne’s (Tel 335602) opens lunch/supper Monday to Saturday, but Nick told me he foresees a business opportunity which may have them re-opening Sundays, a move I endorse as sensible and potentially profitable. There are now few outlets in the vicinity opening on the Sabbath.
Also packed the following Friday was Great Wall, East Road, opposite what was Postals Sports Club.
It is always a good sign when Indians support an Indian restaurant, Italians a pizzeria, French folk a Parisian-style fine-dining establishment; Great Wall was certainly popular with members of the Chinese community.
There were two big round tables of them, with tiny bowls of food held just under noses, the goodies being rapidly scooped a few centimeters from vessel to mouth.
They drank gallons of green tea from stainless steel pots a and smoked incessantly between, and even during, courses, as if back in 1966!
I grabbed one of the last tables free before the Orientals finally finished and left the building. Other punters were disappointed, going elsewhere or waiting impatiently for the last mouthful of tea to be gulped the final gasper to be extinguished.
Like many Chinese restaurants around the dorp operating from former Colonial-style sprawling dwellings, Great Wall has several private rooms, I’ve often noticed occupied by Zanu-PF “chefs” and (presumably) their nieces; I assume casual late arrivals don’t have the entree?
Ordering for one in a “Chinky” is fraught with difficulty as —— especially at Great Wall —— portions can be gargantuan. One meal will easily feed two, two meals three diners, three meals five people, etc, etc.
The chicken and sweetcorn soup serving was, however, just sufficient. I resisted ordering spring rolls, feeling they would be too filling.
A stroppy, bossy woman at the next table bellowed several times that her wonton soup was nothing like she was used to having it in Beijing or Shanghai, noisily demanding its removal. (I didn’t like her attitude but had to concur the Yorkshire puds served in Harare aren’t a patch on those produced in Harrogate, Halifax, Huddersfield, Hull, Holbeck or Hunslet!)
Pasta is one of my favourite foods; I thoroughly enjoyed plain fried noodles, but why they were cut into approximately 5cm lengths beats me. They accompanied sweet and sour pork, the classically prosaic Cantonese dish unusually, in my experience, featuring canned litchis and (I suspect) tinned tomatoes to give the “sweet” aspect to the dish.
I was totally outfaced by a pile of food, wonderfully tasty until, candidly, I grew bored with it and disparate elements began to grow cold, almost gelid.
Few Zimbabwean Chinese restaurants offer the candle-heated plate-warmers automatically appearing almost anywhere else in the world; Great Wall was no exception.
I probably left enough food to satisfy a couple of street kids and it would have been kinder to have asked for a doggy bag and given it to a brace of urchins, rather than simply leave it.
For soup, noodles, main course and a Pilsener lager, the initial bill was US$13. When I pointed out the math was wrong, it should be US$12, 50, I was reluctantly handed a R5 coin, at least insuring the waiter got a tip. Clean out of US$1 notes, there was absolutely no way he would get $5, $10, $20 or $50 bonsella!
Great Wall (Tel 334149) opens lunchtime Monday to Friday; supper Monday to Saturday.
BY DUSTY MILLER