Given the choice, I would not choose buffet dining, relying as it does on pre-cooked and kept-warm dishes, but it is a very popular format, especially for big eaters with limited budgets.
Having said that, Parkview is not cheap at US$25 per person, to which must be added the cost of drinks, which, if you like wine with your meal, can add considerably to the final bill (see below).
However this is a hotel restaurant and by virtue of the fact that it has to open 365 days a year for long hours and serve a very wide variety of diners, it is not unreasonable for it to be more expensive than an independent restaurant.
Friday is actually “Traditional Day” at the Parkview, an initiative for which the restaurant should be commended.
There was an mbira group playing, rather too loudly for my taste, in the restaurant.
The buffet was vast; in addition to such traditional dishes as fried mopane worms and tripe there were other meats in casserole form.
Other traditional dishes offered included spinach with peanut butter, wild greens, rice with peanut butter and of course, sadza. For the less adventurous, roast potatoes, carrots and butternut were offered.
We started our meal with butternut soup which was barely tepid, watery, tasteless and unseasoned. Returning to the buffet I opted for bream which was over-cooked, dried out and tasteless.
My companion declared the oxtail very pleasant, but her beef casserole, as I could see as she struggled to cut it, was very tough.
The vegetables and starches were a great improvement on the meats except for the roast potatoes which had lost any semblance of crispness.
Finally we chose from the attractively displayed sweets. My fresh fruit salad was definitely the highlight of the meal and my pumpkin and baobab mousse an imaginative deference to the traditional theme.
We ended our meal with very good and hot filter coffee which our waiter fetched from the adjacent Coffee Lounge.
And so, to the wines, the restricted list featuring, as it did, mainly Nederburg wines, and a selection of local wines, but which had no prices on it, and in places was so faded as to be unreadable. Our waitress after some consultation informed us that the Nederburg wines were US$30 and the house wine (Ravenswood) US$5 a glass.
In what I hope was not a harsh manner I told her that I had no intention of paying such exorbitant prices which resulted in her return a few minutes later with the good news that the bottles had been reduced to US$20, but no reduction on the house wine by the glass.
Based on a 5-litre Ravenswood box, the charge of US$5 even for even a generous glass is equivalent to US$150 for a box of wine which costs under US$20 in the supermarket.
I need say no more except that I ordered a bottle of Zonnebloem 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, one of my favourite tipples, at the special price of US$20.
This took a very long time to materialise and arrived nicely chilled just as were finishing our main course.
Parkview is a Brasserie
Parkview is a relaxed venue with delightful staff and a pleasant view of the Park through the security fence.
Secure parking is provided in the basement with direct access to the lobby and there is also a secure ground level parking area just a few steps along the city’s pot-holed pavement from the front door.
When we arrived at peak lunch time, the restaurant was empty and during our long lunch only three other tables were occupied.
Using the title “Brasserie” implies something a bit more special than the usual hotel dining room fare but unfortunately, even allowing for the fact that we were there on Traditional Day, this did not prove to be the case.
Family Restaurant, 2 Plates
To spend US$25 to US$40 per head
Crowne Plaza Monomotapa
54 Park Lane, Harare CBD.