I was quite excited to be allocated Willowbean, as I had not been there in a very long while and had heard good things.
by le connoisseur
Life being what it is, we seldom manage to squeeze the time for eating out — unless, we’re “on duty” and as there are lots of other reviewers in Zoap, that is not all that often in the course of year. So it’s always a special treat for us.
We opted to have lunch there on a weekday. Willowbean is situated at Willowmead Junction — a good position to pick up trade from those doing their fruit and veg and sundry other grocery shopping at this popular outlet, and also, with its proximity to St John’s School and Rolf Valley Gym, it is clearly a popular place. I gather it’s hectic at weekends too.
We formed a very favourable impression right from the outset, because the whole restaurant is just so attractively done out, with a bleached wood and poles effect, and with other fixtures and features hued to match. I’m never quite sure if that is the correct term, might it be “lime-washed”?
Whatever it’s called, it assuredly works, at Willowbean, creating a light and airy ambience with lots of natural tones — mostly, pale straw, but with good contrasts such as chocolate brown, and lots of interestingly shaped mirrors with ornately decorated frames that nonetheless manage still to reflect a similar “bleached” effect — as does the reception counter.
This was one of the best themed establishments we’d been in, in a long time, resulting in a friendly, relaxed rustic setting, with colours that work perfectly together, and plenty of light, which I always prefer when eating out. So many restaurants are dark and dingy and that’s all very well for a romantic evening meal by candlelight, but during the day it can feel quite oppressive.
The environment at Willowbean immediately put us a good mood, as there was lots to look at and take in, and the whole effect was most pleasing on the eye.
The excellent décor, we soon found, carried over into excellent service, too. We were well looked after for the duration both by our friendly, helpful waitress and by the managerial staff who checked up on us regularly but without being at all obtrusive. We felt very welcome and were treated like royalty. It was a memorable occasion for this and so many other reasons.
We spent a long time studying the menu, as this, too, had much to take in, both in terms of the delectable sounding dishes, snacks and meals offered, and in terms of the humour and wit with which its contents have been injected, adding another layer of enjoyment to the whole process. We giggled appreciatively as we read, and eventually, settled on our meals. If it’s on the menu, I’ll always opt for it — Homemade Lemonade. Why is it, I can never replicate the refreshing versions that places like Willowmead can offer, at home? It met up to expectation fully. So too did the hot chocolate, fruit juice, milk- shake and mocchaccino we also tried out during our visit, which was much longer than intended, purely because we were enjoying ourselves so much!
There is a wonderful selection on offer at Willowbean from light snacks and meals, to full meals, to cakes and puddings, and as we were quite famished, we went for full meals, though it took quite some agonising, as everything sounded so good.
The pork chops with mustard sauce, which came with the most delicious gooey herbed mashed potatoes I’ve ever eaten, and lovely veg, too, was scrumptious all round.
My friend, who was seriously hungry, having skipped breakfast due to work pressure and an urgent meeting, pronounced her soup, followed by chicken and mushroom carbonara, equally wonderful.
Willowbean for us ticked all the boxes — great décor, great ambience, great food and drinks, great, very friendly service, and the desire to come back — again and again.
Deluxe Coffee Shop
Expect to spend US$15 to US$25 per head for a full meal with drinks
Willowmead Junction, corner Willowmead Lane and Rolf Avenue, Rolf Valley, Harare