HomeWining & DiningUtano restaurant lacking in Olé

Utano restaurant lacking in Olé

We were mildly disappointed (and slightly relieved) to find it a little more tranquil and a bit sleepy. The waiter who greeted us seemed as if he’d just woken up and was a bit reluctant to show us to a table as if we were ruining his siesta. We chose an outside table on the huge, cool veranda overlooking a pretty, landscaped garden and ordered a couple of cool drinks while waiting for the menus.

For starters there’s a choice of a chilli bowl (ground beef, beans and rice), a Mexican pizza (baked tortillas with toppings) or spicy potato wedges. All the above were supposed to be served with guacamole, but the guacamole was not available! Very disappointing!

Anyway, we settled on a mixed platter which came with strips of beef, chicken pieces, a couple of mini burritos (pancakes with beef filling) and some samoosas. I always thought samoosas were from India rather than Mexico, but it was all very tasty and advertised on the menu as being served with a side salad – unfortunately it wasn’t.

The menu for main courses for lunch consists largely of tortillas in various guises — fried, baked or toasted — with a choice of beef, chicken, fish or vegetable fillings.  My partner ordered the “chimichangas”, two fried (you guessed it — tortillas) with a beef filling. The tortillas were flavourful and were served with rice, spicy beans and a rather depressing salad, but sadly again not exactly what was on the menu. There was no guacamole, no sour cream and the “salad” consisted of about half a grated carrot. Mexican food usually uses a whole wealth of herbs and spices and the carrots could certainly have done with a drizzle of lime juice and honey, some cilantro (coriander) or oregano, or even a little chopped chilli and onion.

I ordered from the dinner menu which was a little more imaginative. The chicken breasts with almond and garlic sounded interesting, as well as the sizzling fajitas (strips of beef, chicken or fish) and the steaks. I decided to try the fish fried with coriander and lemon juice. The fish was well-cooked and flavoursome, but again the accompaniments were disappointing. Cheese is a big part of Mexican cuisine, but sadly nowhere on the menu. I’m not exactly a connoisseur of Mexican food but I do know that chocolate is widely used in both sweet and savoury dishes, the most famous being chicken mole. I’ve never tried it but wish it was on the menu at Utano! Mexican food also uses a lot of fresh fruit, like guava, papaya and pineapple, all of which are easily available in Zim but sadly absent from the menu.

The choice of desserts was disappointing, vanilla cake only. Never mind, we were quite full of rice and beans already, so asked for an espresso and a tequila to round off the meal. The espresso tasted like instant coffee — inexcusable for a Mexican joint — and the bar was out of tequila!!  Ah well, maybe next time!


What is guacamole?

Guacamole is a sort of sauce made from mashed up avocado, sometimes with added tomatoes, onions, garlic, chillies, lime juice and/or yoghurt. It really is a staple of Mexican food and as it is easy to prepare and avos are freely available right now, there’s no excuse not to have any, especially as it’s offered with just about every dish on the menu!

Speciality Restaurant – Mexican
2 Plates
30 Bath Road, Avondale,
Harare

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