By Le Connoisseur
A rare occurrence! A totally free evening, with no commitments, and the children safely tucked away for the night, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal out and in racking our brains for a complete change of scenery, chanced upon The Goose at Wild Geese Lodge in Teviotdale.
The drive there on a cold and dark winter’s night seemed further than it really is but added to the feeling that we were on a mini-holiday and heightened our expectations for the evening.
We had not visited Wild Geese since the main building was destroyed by fire and rebuilts so were interested to see what changes had been effected. What a transformation — the main lodge is now all space and light with huge glass frontages giving views, at least in daylight, onto the well-tended grounds and the Mazowe hills. The bar is now to the left of the entrance with the dining area to the right and dry-stone-wall pillars and half walls demarcate these areas and from the reception in the centre. The high cathedral-like ceilings add to the sense of space in this contemporary setting.
Finding the bar patrons engrossed in watching a rugby game on the television, we went straight to our table and ordered a drink. A flaw with the double volume design soon became apparent as from the other side of the reception we could clearly hear the enthusiastic rugby supporters and also shouts of “Order” from the kitchen, adjacent to where we were seated, summoning the waiters for service. Luckily we found it amusing on this occasion (although it could equally easily have spoilt the evening) and started guessing how long it would take for the waiters to respond to their calls.
The menu offers a small but balanced selection of four starters, five main courses and four desserts. The wine list is fairly comprehensive, representing a number of estates and a limited number of wines are available by the glass, which is so much better than the glasses of the ubiquitous boxed wines available in most establishments. My glass of Man Vintners Shiraz proved a good companion to my meal.
Our starters of crumbed brie and chicken livers were attractively presented and passed muster. The livers could certainly have had more zing and had me questioning my decision to forgo the peri-peri chicken as a main course on the basis that the waiter advised that it only came in one version — very hot — and that the chef was unable to vary this.
However, my choice of a peppered fillet served medium rare was cooked to perfection, melt-in-the-mouth tender and the pepper sauce was delicious. The other main course of hake and chips was a generous, if unexciting, portion. Main courses are served with freshly prepared vegetables, still pleasantly crunchy, and a choice of starch including spicy rice.
Having sampled the rice I can attest that it was indeed spicy and that my concerns regarding the “very hot” chicken may have been well founded!
We were comfortably replete after our meal but, after the rugby game had ended, it was noticeably quieter and more peaceful in the restaurant and we were also pleasantly warmed by the gas heater which had been moved closer to our table on request. So, in order to delay braving the cold outside we ordered dessert — a chocolate roulade and a parfait with fruit and honey — and tea and coffee to round off the evening. The desserts were perfectly adequate but in both we discovered traces of cling-film — evidence of prior preparation. There is nothing wrong with this but failure to remove the evidence does show an unfortunate lack of care.
Our evening out was enjoyable — a change of scenery, a very pleasant meal and a break from our normal routine. However in considering The Goose as a stand-alone restaurant I do have some reservations. As a guest in the lodge, dining there for a night or two, I would be very satisfied.
As a casual visitor, however, there is insufficient to differentiate this restaurant and what it offers — in terms of ambience, service and the food on offer — from others which are more conveniently situated. Unfortunately in the “modernising” of the lodge, it has lost some of the charm and individuality which it had as one of our first safari-in-the-city establishments. As a choice of venue for a function in its enormous gazebo or a leisurely Sunday buffet lunch in the garden with its marvellous panorama it is highly recommended, but as a deluxe family restaurant it has some catching-up to do.
Deluxe Family Restaurant
Expect to spend $30 to $40 per head
Wild Geese Lodge
2 Bucklands Lane, off Alpes Road, Harare