The other day we found ourselves in Harare CBD and decided that for lunch we should check out a place we had heard of; Bannie’s. It is situated quite conveniently just outside the CBD proper, at the end (or beginning, if you will) of Julius Nyerere Way — just between the Harare Park and Sam Mujoma (Second) Street.
Report by le Connoisseur
Walking into the building that houses Bannie’s, we soon saw that it was a popular place for lunch. It appeared that there were many people having their midday repast, presumably having strolled over from their various offices. In fact, there were so many happy eaters that there was no free table on the “outside” verandah (this verandah is still inside the sort of banking mall, but outside the restaurant itself), and we were guided to a table inside.
This was a little stuffy as the air-conditioning seemed not quite to cope with the heat generated by the kitchen and the numerous patrons of Bannie’s. We were given a menu and saw that there are also many breakfast choices, as well as opportunities for tea, coffee and cakes. But we focused on the luncheon menu. This offered all the usual dishes, from toasted sandwiches, to salads, a soup of the day, some chicken livers, as well as fish, chicken, beef or pork. The meat, so I had seen when entering, was being grilled on the gas-grill plate on the outside verandah; smelling and looking very appetising. On the menu, there also was a good wholesome choice of sadza nenyama, or chicken and gravy.
What struck my wife most was that the prices for the various dishes on the menu were all quite reasonable, surely a cause of the popularity of the place. Indeed, they also offer take-aways, and there was a good stream of people coming to buy and take their lunches, perhaps to eat in the Park.
We asked for drinks, but found the new waitress unable to explain to us what was what. After a few attempts of walking back on forth “to ask my colleagues”, she was replaced by a more experienced waitress who guided us expertly through the menu choices and the particulars of the various dishes. Sipping our fruit juice we decided to order the chicken livers, and a tomato soup as starters, and then to go for the whole trout and the T-bone (the requested sirloin was not available).
While working away at our food, it was interesting to observe the clientèle at Bannie’s. What is nicer than to observe one’s fellow human beings? The various lunchtime guests seemed to consist of efficient and well-groomed personal assitants and secretaries as well as nascent businessmen, all having left their busy offices temporarily to enjoy some nice food and company. Indeed, people appeared to have a great time and enjoy the food that was served: reasonably priced and served well.
Bannie’s clearly has a formula that works well and it boasts a group of patrons that support their business with enthusiasm and evident enjoyment.
I asked for some coffee at the end of the meal, and settled for the double espresso that was offered. When it came, it was somewhat strangely reminiscent of a cheaper brand of instant coffee. How that was managed in an espresso machine was a marvel, but in the end it simply was not quite my cup of coffee!
It was now already well past lunch-time proper, and after paying the very reasonable bill we left, with well-filled stomachs, strolling past some small groups of ladies and gentlemen who were still sitting and laughing at some of the verandah tables, unable to tear themselves away from their popular lunch-time spot. I wondered whether their bosses, if they had any, might be getting cross at their late return!
Expect to spend US$10 to US$15
NSSA Building, ground floor, Julius Nyerere Way
A few glitches at Bannie’s
The livers and soup were brought after some time, and they seemed to be OK; the soup perhaps showing evidence of a packet rather than being freshly made, and the livers having been cooked a little too enthusiastically and now being just that bit dry. The T-bone steak that came after our starters appeared to be two!
But it also explained why the waitress had not asked me whether I wanted it rare, medium or well-done: they were so thin that they could not be rare or medium, even if one tried. The trout was nice, but lacked a wedge of lemon which my wife would have found a welcome addition.