Wednesday was slated for a trip to one of Harare’s leafy northern suburbs to try an as yet unidentified new or newly re-opened up-market eatery.
But I had to go “downtown”, as Petula Clark would warble, to collect a rather expensive camera back from in-warranty repairs at Canon, South Africa. (Repairs were carried out under guarantee, free-of-charge, but DHL-ing it to Jo’burg and back and customs clearance was US$100…a fraction of the value of the item, but almost anywhere else in the world you can buy an adequate digital for US$100.)
Most annoying thing was it had packed up soon into an open-topped bus guided tour of Dubai and, stupidly, a spare point-and-shoot Canon was back in my stateroom on an about -to-cast-off Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship, I missed many possibly irreplaceable photo opportunities as the jaw-dropping UAE skyline changes almost by the hour.
I’ve been through Dubai six times in nine months, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be there again (with time to take a bus ride) anytime soon! Usually you change planes at 2am with 20 minutes to spare! (So much for the globe’s Best Duty Free; there’s no time to even stare at mouthwatering displays of luxury consumer goods, never mind choose and pay for them!)
So I was in the CBD of Ha-ha-ha-rare (Africa’s fun capital) with time for swift lunch, but short of ideas on where to eat it. There must be fewer restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs, coffee shops or any sort of food outlets in Harare than any other capital city in the world? Bulawayo’s got more going for it…possibly even Mutare!
Mokador was an old favourite and OLD is the right word. It was beloved by international correspondents during the Bush War, pumping possibly 16-18 hours a day.
Hercules (“Erk”) Laubscher worked there from 1974/75 when it was at its peak, to 2003 by which time it was most definitely past sell-by date. Coincidentally he had been back as manager less than a week when I called. He’s been at Flat Dog Diner, Msasa until recently, where his brother was a partner.
That last bastion of red-necked Rhody-ism has been sold to indigenous investors whom, I hear, are spending a fortune refurbishing the place.
Back to Mokador. The steps were always suspect. They used to be badly cracked, broken-neck- threatening tile; now worryingly creaking, not-too-well carpentered, timber. Just after a notice announcing pints of beer at US1 and “quotes” of the stuff at US$2!
(Something wrong there; two so-called pints of Pilsener cost US$3!)
The place seemed, looked and felt empty although there were several punters present. Service was a tad slow for a CBD operation, but mushroom soup at an unbelievably reasonable US$1 was definitely worth waiting for: redolent of the requisite earthy fungi flavour, with chunks of tasty button mushroom. It was piping hot, smooth, silky, velvety, herby…and quite delicious.
With a roll which would have been nicer taken from the fridge 10 minutes earlier and one of the less unpleasant margarines, candidly it really did it for me.
Appetite now jaded, I picked at spaghetti bolognaise which could have done with a wee bit more mincey-tomatoey sauce and substantially less pasta at US$5. I ordered moussaka and salads at the same price, but that was off.
Not a great spagbol, but nothing basically wrong with it, if I hadn’t pigged out on soup and been intensely involved in checking the camera actually worked properly after five months away. (Four months, really, but it arrived in Harare as I left for UK and North Africa.)
One of those amiable waiters who’ve worked at Mokador for ever asked if I wanted pudding. I thought I was doing him a favour by ordering something (US$1-2), but to my amazement heard that all three listed sweets were also “off”.
He said he meant tea or coffee!
Music was always good at Mokador, but on Wednesday seemed to consist of two plasma screens showing hip-hop-rap-crap seriously out of sync with what we were hearing. Well that is, of course, unless a very large, very black, bald, heavily bearded dude really does sing contralto!
“Erk” tells me the restaurant/pub again opens daily, from 8am until 10:30pm; on Wednesday night there was live music.
Soup, pasta, two beers: US$9.
Mokador Grill House and Bar, Mezzanine Floor, Michael House. (Takeaway at street level).