A long time ago, before dollarisation, power cuts and all the things we now take for granted, my favourite treat was to go to Kaya Nyama in the old Park Lane Hotel.
By le connoisseur
From an array of raw meat you selected your steak or whatever else was on offer and it was braaied in front of you. Not a unique concept — bottle stores have long offered customers “flesh and fire” to go with their liquor! Today, the concept of choosing your meat or fish before it is cooked is now being continued, most enjoyably, by The Butcher’s Kitchen — a delightfully “chaotic” and “different” experience for us!
What should be a straightforward procedure is complicated by the fact that TBK is a butchery, delicatessen and bottle store, as well as a restaurant, and these individual functions all operate in the same space.
The simple scenario is you choose your meat/fish (henceforth I’ll just refer to “meat”) from the dedicated cool cabinet behind which the chefs wait to cook and plate it. the meat in cabinets display the butchery price and so must be weighed and the “cooked” price calculated.
Once the meat is cooked to order, it is plated with a choice of starch and a side salad. At extra cost, vegetables (US$2) and a sauce (US$3), in my case garlic, can be added. I enquired if I could have vegetables in place of the starch, but was told this was not possible, “vegetables are extra”!
Seating is a haphazard selection of tables inside the shop, both bench seating and individual chairs, with a full view of the giant noisy TV screen on one wall, and tables on the pavement, past and between which, shoppers walk.
This style of pavement café is not for me; it leaves me feeling very uneasy and “conspicuously consumptive”!
So we selected the only available inside table (it was hectic!) and after a considerable wait, ordered pre-lunch drinks while perusing the menu, which includes a substantial selection of breakfasts, main meals, including “build your own” burgers, “make your own wraps” and instructions on how to order your meat dishes!
In addition we were given a list of daily specials from which we chose to share an order of fried halloumi and mushrooms (US$6) for starters. As anticipated, this was more than enough for two, three large pieces of cheese and three giant mushrooms deep fried and served with a sweet chilli sauce.
We chose our bottle from a notably well-selected and fairly priced range — a Terre Del Capo Pinot Grigio (US$16,45) seemed right for what was proving to be a very different kind of outing. Returning to our table clutching our nicely chilled bottle, you can imagine our dismay when we found it had been cleared, glasses and ice removed, and someone new ensconced there! All was politely resolved by our claiming back our table and asking our waitress to bring more glasses and ice!
The choice of desserts was surprisingly limited — ice-cream and chocolate sauce [3 large scoops, (US$5) or bread-and-butter pudding — and the filter coffee excellent. The breakfasts look “awesome”, and as with everything else, very fairly priced. I am told that breakfast or more accurately brunch eaters fill the tables until well into lunch time at weekends, so it is wise for lunch customers to arrive later, as tables cannot be booked.
Expect to spend US$15 to US$45 a head
Shop 112 Sam Levy’s Village, Borrowdale, Harare.