Overseas, restaurant reviewers often visit an eatery a couple of times before drafting their critiques: 500 to 1 200 words which could easily make or break a restaurateurs’ career, reputation, bank balance and even sanity.
Column by Dusty Miller
[Fay Maschler, the much revered, but equally feared doyenne reviewer of the London Evening Standard often hints she’s been three times to eat at the subject of her latest column, before putting pen to paper, booting up her laptop and possibly putting in the boot!]
Newspapers here don’t have the time or budgets for such routine repeat recces. As a reviewer (at least two columns a week), I wouldn’t have the appetite, digestion or patience for double and triple visits and I doubt whether the waistband of the safari shorts I almost invariably wear would have the necessary elasticity!
But this week I did just that. Two visits to Deli…cious, the stunningly successful deli/cafe inside Borrowdale Village.
On Sunday morning I bought medication at a nearby pharmacy which must be taken with food. So although a substantial breakfast [notwithstanding yet another Zesa outage/outrage] wasn’t too far behind, and I was sure we’d be eating lunch somewhere after a Reps Spot-the-Tune music quiz, I found a table indoors and ordered “blotting paper” for the muti.
A very large, fresh, blueberry muffin with two fiddly packets of excellent airline-style salted butter and magnificent fruit-filled strawberry jam, with a gratifyingly large cup of strong-ish cappuccino coffee, which came with home-made biscotti was…and I couldn’t believe it…only US$3. [It turns out the staff took one look at my greying locks and automatically charged the pensioners’ rate for the hot drink.] Would that I could retire! Thanks to Dr Gono, I’ll be turning [note, not “churning”] out these pieces until I drop. The snack should have been US$4, which would still have been grand value.
Incidentally, the last time I ate a sweet muffin was eight days earlier in the rather swish Emirates Business Class Lounge, Dubai, after a smoked salmon bagel, washed down with chilled apple juice and strong filter coffee, between flying in from Adelaide, Australia and out to here. It was a product of the ubiquitous Californian-based baking firm of Otis Spunkmeyer! And if you can get your muffins and cookies served on almost every airline in the world, despite the handicap of a name like that, you must be doing something right!
The breakfasts, brunches and early light lunches being eagerly grazed all around my table looked so wonderful that I resolved to return to Deli…cious as soon as I had a “window”, realising that it was six or seven years since I last wrote about the place. [Deli…cious is an annoying name, but not as bad as At.mosphere, the mile-high restaurant in the world’s tallest building in Dubai.]
That window opened the very next day, which was — as usual — grey and drizzly, but hot and humid at the same time.
I was torn between all-day breakfast (particularly eggs Benedict royale with a mountain of smoked salmon at US$12), a wide range of quesadillas (savoury stuffed Mexican tortillas) US$10-US$12 or beer-battered pan-fried fish and chips at US$11. The salads also sounded scrumptious.
Joanne [Jo] de Beer enthusiastically recommended one of the outlet’s gourmet burgers. Her husband and partner in the restaurant, Graeme, used to be production manager at Danmeats in Ruwa and makes all the outfit’s sausages, salamis, hams, smoked bacon, smoked chicken, chorizos, etc. [Smoking makes a huge difference to meats, salmon, trout, etc. Jamie Oliver says if bacon’s not smoked, you may as well throw it out.]
Well, Graeme had also made the splendid 250g beef patty, which was the principal focus of my entirely satisfactory blue-cheese burger. Our Jewish friends are not allowed, by the Talmud, to mix meat and dairy produce at one sitting… a religious dietary regulation with which I’m sure any cardiologist would concur wholeheartedly (pardon the pun).
But the great, herby, grilled medium minced beefsteak burger, anointed with a creamy, rich blue cheese sauce, in a splendid warm bun, surrounded by a mountain of glorious, golden chips and accompanied by a great crunchy salad which was better dressed than me, was a wonderful plateful of complementary tastes, textures and hues and it cost a very reasonable US$12.
[I usually say I’m not a great fan of hamburgers and rarely order them, but in recent days I’ve had magnificent examples at Deli…cious, Deano’s Diner, Avondale — see this column last week — at City Bowling Club, off the quotidian menu and one made by private caterer, Janice, at a boozy journalists’ party in the cricket section at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.]
I assumed The Borrowdale Village eatery wasn’t licensed [to sell grog]; it doesn’t look like the sort of place in Ha-ha-ha-rare [Africa’s fun capital] which would be and so ordered a tantalisingly tangy home-made lemonade at US$1 as I arrived.
That was before I saw, on the crammed menu reflecting a cornucopia of good things to eat and drink, that indeed they are (very recently) licensed, so I had two wonderfully chilled Golden Pilseners (US$2 each) with the burger. I ate and drank outside on a raised timber deck great for people-watching on Monday [last table] and indoors the day before.
Service on each occasion (Sunday I was in a hurry) was exemplary: swift and smiling.
Bottom line: burger, chips and salads, cool drink and two lagers: US$17, of which the damned government snaffled US$2,22 in VAT!
Deli…cious, Shop 97A, Borrowdale Village. Trading hours: 7am-5pm weekdays; 7am-1pm weekends. (Evening events by arrangement) Dining in or out. (Smoking outdoors only) Child, handicapped and pets (outdoors) friendly. Sports on TV, wide range of books, mags and newspapers available. Telephone 0772 329 355