Coimbra has been a very popular meeting and eating place for many years.
By Le Connoisseur
The restaurant has a successful formula that has kept it going through Harare’s more turbulent times and which still works well today. Basically, Coimbra offers good, uncomplicated, no-frills food that’s well-cooked and satisfying. Sitting in the back section of the restaurant was a first for me and my fellow diners.
The front semi-enclosed veranda area and inside the old original house remain comfortably familiar and unchanged. The only drawback I found to sitting in the back section was that it seems to be a bit cut off from the rest of the restaurant and far away from the front of house/manager’s desk.
Consequently the service was not so good and the waiters seemed to be a bit disorganised and unfocused. There were at least five waiters floating around in our area but it was difficult to grab anyone’s attention — and we were served by so many different waiters that no one seemed to be responsible or dedicated to looking after us.
We didn’t get off to a very good start. Although we’d phoned in advance to book our table, when we arrived the only table available for us was in front of the huge glass window, so two of us sat with our backs in the full sun which got unpleasantly hot very quickly — the other person in our party (me) spent the meal staring into the full sun. We were squashed onto a small table right next to the serving entrance, but just across from us was a perfect spot — out of the sun and away from the activity of the serving door — but for some inexplicable reason this prime space was taken up by a collection of seven huge hippo sculptures. Were they VIP guests, or more importantly, were they paying patrons?
We sat down at our table and were fairly quickly brought our drinks and some fresh bread. I love to nibble on my bread with a splash of oil and vinegar and a light sprinkling of salt. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any condiments on our table and after trying unsuccessfully to get the attention of a waiter, I got up and grabbed the condiment stand off another table and some paper serviettes from the waiters’ serving stand. I ordered the caldo verde (green soup) to start and kingklip for my main meal.
The kingklip and the line fish were unavailable so I decided on sole instead. The caldo verde arrived — after a long wait — ice cold. Trying to get the waiter’s attention to ask him to warm up the soup was yet another fiasco as several waiters ran past carefully ignoring me! Eventually, after a very long wait, the soup was taken away to be re-warmed and returned to the table at exactly the same moment that my main course arrived, delivered by another waiter. So I sent the soup away and asked to speak to the manager.
In the meantime I tucked into my sole, which was absolutely grand — fresh, simply cooked and served with lashings of crispy potato chips. My partner ordered a Portuguese steak, well-done. He was most impressed that it was cooked according to his instructions and it was still very tender and tasty. Our guest asked for the famous peri-peri chicken — extra hot – and hot it certainly was! Just the way he likes it. The main courses were good, very simply served — just the fish or meat or chicken and chips with no fancy garnish or dressing.
For dessert I had the chocolate mousse and we all had some excellent filter coffee.
Family Restaurant – Portuguese Flavour
Expect to spend US$15 – US$25 per head
69 Selous Avenue, Harare.