The old saying tells us a picture’s worth a thousand words! (It’s not, really, in my experience in half a century of print journalism, a picture’s usually worth about 333 words!)
Mojo’s is 17 months old; housed in a venerable old Colonial building which — as a restaurant — was Bloom Manor (which, for my sins, I never visited) and, before that, Haddow House, a chintzy little eatery of which I was very fond, especially when run by the feisty Lindsay Guild, a lady who (then) still farmed at Burma Valley and had been brought up on a Mtoko tobacco farm on the front line during the Bush War.
Built in 1905 for a formidable spinster — the original Miss Haddow — Mojo’s is farmhouse-like, with many agricultural style outbuildings. Rolling sculptured, manicured gardens grace the rear, with centre-piece ornamental pond and tinkling fountain. Miss Haddow was an archetypical “unclaimed blessing” who kept as many as 80 cats at any time.
Since Julie Webb and Mohammed Samy opened Mojo’s in May 2010, “chintzy” is the last word to describe the place. It is slick, swish, smooth and elegant with the finest crockery, cutlery, crystal, table linen and decor. Dining is indoors, out, on a shady verandah or in the rear garden.
A bit of an oddity is that fixtures and fittings wouldn’t be out of place in a ritzy West End establishment; the beautifully designed and mouth-wateringly stocked cocktail bar, could be in Manhattan, yet Mojo’s is essentially a barbecue joint.
Well, they call it a churrascara, which is Brazilian-Portuguese for steak house (churrasca being their word for braai or barbecue). It reminds me unerringly of an up-market version of the world-famous Carnivore in Nairobi or The Boma at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. And it is for carnivores. Not much point in vegetarians using Mojo’s!
Well not unless they stick to the US$10 tapas platter and eat pickilly. On Tuesday, this comprised hot, spicy chorizo sausage and butterbean bake, olives — lovely small green marinated jobs, bream goujons, cherry tomato tartlets, Thai chicken pizza bites and shrimp rarebit which came with a grand Greek salad, chock full of more delicious olives and a lovely salty feta cheese.
Have starters and a main course and the cost is US$25. Save some salad to cut the richness of meat which just comes and comes: until you firmly say “NO MORE!”
There were good hand-cut English chips on the table; Portuguese-style fragrant and aromatic saffron rice and various sauces in attractive mini gravy boats.
Then waiters brought skewer after skewer of piping hot fire-roasted tender beef fillet, beef sirloin, boerewors pork fillet-and-pineapple, braised belly pork, marinated then braaied; chicken breasts wrapped in bacon; chicken drumsticks and thighs and chunks of sweet tender, herb-rich lamb to die for! You eat as much as you like/can.
Tuesday lunch time isn’t a high spot for eating out in Zimbabwe, but Mojo’s was about a quarter full of gourmets and gourmands with grease running down happy chops and sticky fingers!
I ate with Mohammed, who was the last general manager of the then Harare Sheraton (now Rainbow Towers) and has a wealth of experience in the hospitality sector, mainly in Africa and the Middle East; we swopped notes on places I’ve visited on working holidays and he’s worked…chete!
Julie’s the daughter of Centenary farmers. A trained chef, she has a British degree in hospitality and was a GM at Leopard Rock and later ran Imba Matomba, Gecko Gardens and Arnaldo’s, before the first two were sold to the Chinese; the second to a local chicken farmer.
Try to save space for pudding (not cheap at US$7, but worth every cent). I had quite superb pannacotta with warm brandied peaches and whipped cream. There’s also: caramelised lemon tart with berry coulis; chocolate-and-orange cheesecake with crème Chantilly; trio of mousses: spiced coffee, passion fruit and chocolate-and-chili; chocolate spring rolls with vanilla ice-cream and caramelised pecan nuts and ice-cream sundae.
There’s also a huge range of coffees, specialist coffees and teas to choose from.
Mojo’s opens Monday to Saturday. 10, East Road, Avondale. Tel 705993; 761639; email@example.com
-BY DUSTY MILLER