We had decided on a family get-together to discuss our disparate plans and synchronise diaries for the year ahead before it all got too out of hand and a break from the kitchen was the order of the womenfolk. A hotel seemed a safe option and it was decided that the buffet at the Harvest Garden was long overdue for a visit and would hopefully satisfy everyone, including the children. Unfortunately the glitz and glamour of the entrance seemed to diminish as we made our way to the restaurant which is in need of an uplift. The theme is ethnic but only vaguely so and is lacking in atmosphere. Perhaps unsurprisingly it was not well-frequented on the day we lunched there.
We were soon seated at a window-side table overlooking the pool and after placing our order for drinks, ventured forth to establish what was on offer, having merely been told to “help ourselves”. The drinks service was unacceptably slow, especially so, given that there were so few patrons. After my second request for the wine list, I was brought a glass of red wine. On insisting on the wine list, two bottles, both South African reds, were brought for me to make my selection. I then discovered that the wine by the glass was in fact Nederburg Baronne, one of the bottles on offer, so accepted the glass already poured and brought a smile back to our worried waitress’s face.
We commenced with the butternut soup which wasn’t bad and, in my case at least, was an excuse for a liberal helping of golden, crunchy croutons. Bread rolls from the hotel’s in house bakery were also on offer but rather disconcertingly were displayed on a tray covered in cling film. The salads were fresh but unoriginal — coleslaw, carrot, tomato and cucumber and spinach. There was ham, unfortunately of the processed variety, and sliced battered fish. I avoided the chicken and apple salad which was generously coated in a rather lurid yellow mayonnaise.
Rather surprisingly the hot buffet did not include any roast orcurries. There was a pedestrian mutton stew, lacking in flavour and certainly not melt-in your mouth. To accompany this there was rice, sadza, sautéed potatoes, green beans with cauliflower and cabbage. The saving grace was the stir-fry, with a choice of beef or chicken strips and a julienne of vegetables. In the end we all went for the stir-fry flavoured with ginger and/or garlic, although a few also sampled the stew.
The array of desserts included trifle, chocolate gateaux, individual custard tarts, custard slices, fruit salad and ice-cream.
However, this restaurant is entered in the Deluxe Family Restaurant Category and does not come up to standard. It is the main restaurant in a five star hotel and falls short of expectation. The food is mundane and unexciting, the décor is dull and the lack of a wine list or even an acceptable range of wines is unforgivable.
Deluxe Family Restaurant
Expect to spend between US$25 and US$35 per head
Rainbow Towers Hotel, Harare.