As our children grow up and prepare to leave the nest, we try to take every opportunity we can to “make memories”. Meal times are shared whenever possible, and any excuse to dine out is seized upon with alacrity.
Report by Le Connoisseur
I suppose all families have their favourite restaurant; the place where you go to celebrate special occasions, spend time together and, most importantly, have a really good meal.
Ours, by unanimous vote, is Leonardo’s Restaurant at Sam Levy’s Village in Borrowdale. Not only has the quality of the food stood the test of time, but the service at Leonardo’s is second to none.
We hadn’t been there in a while, and I was interested to see if the restaurant had been affected by the burgeoning of food outlets in Borrowdale Village.
Certainly, and somewhat irritatingly, parking right outside Leonardo’s is a thing of the past, especially on a Saturday night.
Parking over-spills into the main shopping car-park which is well-guarded. An evening constitutional before and after a meal is not a bad thing as well, and there are plenty of interesting people to look at along the way!
The minute you arrive at Leonardo’s, you feel as though the whole restaurant has been prepared especially for you.
From the first welcome at the top of the stairs to the efficient ushering to your table and prompt delivery of the menus, you know that this is a classy restaurant.
This level of sophistication is sadly lacking in many of Harare’s restaurants and we have decided that it is a direct result of owner/manager, Daniel Marini’s charisma and training of his staff.
It makes you feel like they are delighted to entertain you at their restaurant and glad that you have chosen to dine there. I am relieved and happy to report that nothing has changed in terms of service and delivery at Leonardo’s.
The layout of the menu had, however, changed, since our last visit, and we found the new edition concise and easy to follow. Leonardo’s has a wide variety of choice, taking culinary inspiration from several continental countries. The comprehensive selection is a great educational tool. Did I just say “educational tool”? Well, yes, and here’s the justification.
As fully committed parents, my husband and I believe that children should experience different gastronomic delights. They also need to be taught how to behave in public and what to expect from a good restaurant.
Do I need any more justification for taking my children out to dine? I don’t need to mention that parents need to have a few incentives as well…..
The years of toil and training have paid off. The unwritten law is that each diner needs to order a different dish, and then must be prepared to let the others sample their choice.
Over the years we have watched the children’s individual taste preferences refine and develop. Haloumi cheese with a delicate chilli sauce was the first choice for my daughter.
The cheese was cooked to perfection, succulent and pleasantly salty.
Champignon français, fat, juicy crumbed mushrooms delighted my son especially since they were not oily but the batter was delectably crisp.
My husband chose the peri-peri chicken livers — his all-time favourite. These are the best chicken livers we have had in a long time; beautiful texture and a mild but tasty sauce to accompany them.
Our appetites fully whetted, we moved onto the main course. I branched out and chose the Scottish salmon, grilled and served with silky mashed potato and creamy spinach.
This was a meal to remember. The salmon was tender, delicately flavoured with a buttery sauce, and pure ambrosia to eat. I did have to honour the unwritten law, but only shared very small morsels with the rest of the family.
Rupert set aside his knife and fork and devoured his spare ribs caveman-style.
They were saucy and very succulent and, once again, reluctantly shared.
Leonardo’s pizzas are no ordinary meal and my daughter made short work of her St-Alla Tonio pizza, smothered in mozzarella cheese, olives and pepperoni.
But the most spectacular dish was my son’s beef Souvlaki, a magnificently presented kebab, suspended from its skewer and begging to be eaten.
It was delicious and, as he kept reminding me, was not a dish we could reproduce at home. The choice of wines at Leonardo’s is interesting.
The Arabella and Graham Beck wineries were well-represented and we chose the Arabella Cabernet Sauvignon which complemented our meal to perfection.
We rounded off our meal with a selection of desserts. The Lemon Meringue Pie was tangy with a cloud of meringue balanced on top.
The Chocolate Pecan Pie was an interesting variation, rich and packed with pecans. My own personal selection, the Crème Brûlée, was creamy and tantalising, the ideal culmination to my dinner.
Coffee signalled the end of a lovely evening.
Expect to spend US$30 – US$40 per head
Sam Levy’s Village, Borrowdale.