I was house-sitting a Milton Park home which mid-way through my tenure — only temporarily thank goodness — had neither Zesa nor water.
Eating out with Dusty Miller
It was chilly for mid-March. I was hungry after a long deadline day; the lights of Arnaldo’s Portuguese-style restaurant twinkled invitingly and I accepted the unspoken invitation.
That was at the Kensington Shopping Centre branch of Arnaldo’s, where Taverna Athena operated before the iconic Greek restaurant sadly went bust.
The Arnaldo’s franchise (they’re also at Graniteside) is run by the Taylor family of dispossessed Mutepatepa tobacco farmers. After the lunatic land invasions, they downsized into poultry at Harare South, operating FatSon (that’s father and son!) Chickens.
Running the restaurant side is daughter/sister Keitha Taylor, who wasn’t on duty that night. Holding the fort was the rather chatty Leon van Vuuren.
I heard his life story between courses. Salient points were: The night manager had been on board two-and-a-half months, after a long career in food manufacturing. Rusape-born, he gushed that he just loved the hospitality industry.
I really fancied prawn soup cooked with onions and carrots at US$6, but that was “off” (or “N/A”) as was Portuguese vegetable soup (presumably caldo verde?), butternut and chicken soup. But a daily special of home-made mushroom soup (a winner at the old Taverna Athena…did they pinch the menu or poach the chef?) proved dense and intensely flavoured at US$4.
At US$7, the prawn cocktail tried on a previous visit was a worthwhile retro circa-1960s dining experience. They actually used prawns: plump, pink large queens or small kings, I’d say, whereas most of the opposition tends to serve tiny shrimps. I can’t recall whether there were four or five crustaceans, but they were delicious, atop shredded iceberg lettuce, the whole lot slathered in marie-rose (1 000 Islands) sauce.
On this latest occasion I skipped the cocktail, but had a seafood fix of splendid crustacean-filled prawn curry and fluffy white basmati rice with “Durban salad” of chopped and diced raw tomato and onion.
Despite a lack of other sambals, naan chapattis or poppadums, this was grand value at US$17. I’m thinking of inventing a competition for the best prawn curry in Ha-ha-ha-rare (Africa’s fun capital). On the list up to now would be The Pointe, Chang Thai, Fishmonger, Tandoor and The Bistro, Borrowdale. Prices vary between US$14 and US$24.
I assume the best of FatSon’s poultry goes to their restaurants and the half piri-piri chicken eaten at a previous lunch was exemplary: soft, white, tender, plump, juicy, flesh nicely marinaded to “medium” piri-piri heat strength. Skin was crisped professionally.
Arnaldo’s has a full range of poultry products, but also a wide choice of grilled well-hung steaks, chops and ribs for guys who graze and salads for the lovely ladies who lunch lightly and languidly.
A basket of still warm soft-crumbed bread and butter came with the starters and mains.
Choice of pudding was “temporarily” restricted to the pleasant ice-cream and chocolate sauce I chose, ice-cream without chocolate sauce! or chocolate mousse, US$3,50 or US$4 respectively.
At Graniteside — where manufacturing is a shadow of its former self — the outlet opens only on weekday lunchtimes, whereas the new operation will trade 8am-9:30pm Monday to Saturday, specialising in breakfasts and coffee and cake; they recently began opening for Sunday lunches.
Arnaldo’s, Kensington SC. Family restaurant, sensibly priced. Child and handicapped friendly. Smoking/no smoking tables. Fully licensed. Comprehensive wine-list. Eating in an airy indoors restaurant with overhead fans or outdoors.
Telephone 0772 238 306/
0772 729 306. Opens Monday-to-Saturday 8am-9:30pm and Sunday lunch.