Nestled in this boutique centre amongst shops selling everything from handcrafted goods in aid of charity, exquisite local crafts, lovely linens, beautifully crafted bags, belts and clothes to decadent Belgian chocolates, is The Shop Café.
By Le connoisseur
This is a lovely place to sit and indulge all the senses. It is a gastronomic delight in an idyllic setting.
The setting in a garden under a canopy of grape ivy with monkeys occasionally walking past makes one forget how close to the city centre of the capital city of Zimbabwe it all actually is.
The grapes above us are just ripening and the sun shining through the gaps in the ivy leaves the tables dappled with constantly moving shadows which just adds to the whole relaxed atmosphere that surrounds this restaurant.
The clientèle is varied — a mixture of locals and treasure-seeking tourists. The multi-lingual conversations create a lovely background hum.
As it is a Saturday, there is a special à la carte menu which offers a wide range of vegetarian dishes as well as fish, beef and chicken dishes. The famous all-you-can-eat buffet is available during the week — Tuesday to Friday.
The menu is displayed on blackboards on the café walls. It is all so tempting and inviting that choosing any one thing becomes a long discussion which then veers dangerously into potential over-eating, as one is sorely tempted to have just a small taste of everything on the menu!
To cool us down on arrival we ordered ice cold beer which definitely did the trick.
A basket of three breads was brought to our table — beet root, garlic and focaccia. Of course we had to try a bit of each and we declared the beetroot bread our favourite. It is all very fresh and the taste is enhanced by the farm fresh butter on offer.
As a main course I finally settled for the pan fried Tilapia accompanied by potato wedges and a garden salad which was so beautifully presented it was a work of art to behold. A delicious mayo and spicy tomato chutney and glasses of chilled Sauvignon Blanc completed this dish. The lemon which I squeezed over my fish brought a tang to the dish which I loved.
The fish is well cooked and the components of the dish are well balanced.
The Tilapia was perfectly sea-red on the outside and the inside was moist. My partner chose a smoked salmon omelette which she declared absolutely delicious.
The soft yellow of the egg is perfectly complemented by the light pink salmon both in look and in taste. It is accompanied by a garden salad which is a riot of colors comprising green and purple lettuce, sprouts and various seeds.
As the Shop Café is famous for its salads we chose to share a Trio of Salads platter. The trio platter had garden salad, a butternut and feta salad and an aubergine and crème fraîche salad. We fought over the butternut and feta and aubergine salad as these were so fresh, tasty and refreshing on the palate.
It is great to go somewhere and not be served run of the mill lettuce, onion, tomato and cucumber salad. The Shop Café prides itself in using the freshest produce to create imaginative fare. We ate and ate and ate!
The ingredients are so fresh and so very little is done to them, that they remain in the most natural state. Whatever methods are used to prepare them merely brings out the true flavours and makes for mouth-watering food to delight the palate.
To end our meal we chose to share a slice of cheesecake. This was just greed on our part as temptation won yet again. The variety of cakes on display all look so beautiful.
It is a large slice which we unfortunately could not really do justice to as our stomachs went on strike and shut down!
We had this packed to indulge in later. It is very easy to sit in the garden of the Shop Café and eat large amounts of food and drink copious amounts of beer, wine or fresh juice on offer.
It gets busier and busier as the afternoon progresses and the turnover is great. It is just that kind of place!
Speciality Restaurant – healthy food using local ingredients in season, which caters primarily for vegetarians but has something for the carnivores too!
Expect to Spend US$10 to US$20 a head
Adjacent to The Shop, Doon Estate, Harrow Road, Msasa