Few fellow lunch time diners at the latest periodic soiree of the Restaurateurs’ Association of Zimbabwe had previously eaten at our May venue: The Codfather, Chisipite.
EATING OUT WITH DUSTY MILLER
I, however, could smugly state I’d enjoyed the odd lunch there and several breakfasts/brunches eating al fresco in the rolling woodland acres that comprise this interesting fish speciality outlet.
And the acres do roll: all 8,5 of them, well-wooded and hilly; alive with birdsong, colourful butterflies flutter by, through mainly indigenous restful woodlands.
Somehow, I wasn’t surprised when I recently learned that the rambling building housing The Codfather’s little used indoor eating area (because it’s nicer to graze in the garden or on the stoep) and kitchens was the original farmstead for the agricultural property on which the neighbouring Chisipite Schools were built.
I enjoy local history (well, not Zanu PF’s take on the subject!), birds, butterflies, trees and, indeed, everything green and to soak in all that over a fishy Sunday mid-morning spread washed down with good, strong filter coffee is hedonism personified.
An all-day breakfast menu features great crispy fish cakes with a home-made tomato sauce at US$7 or breakfast omelettes, fluffy and stuffed with prawns, smoked salmon or cheese with chips, costing US$9, or haddock Mornay (the smoked fish, lying on a bed of spinach is served with a poached egg on scrumptious cheese sauce at US$12.)
Or my old favourite, kippers! The menu states grilled kippers with “an egg” of your choice and tomato on toast with marmalade. I’ve enjoyed this dish several times and so have folk at neighbouring tables and it’s always come with two eggs, almost invariably poached, costing US$8.
I’ve always asked for extra hot toast and butter in order to do justice to tangy adult-flavoured large shred marmalade, which has come at no extra cost. Similarly a second cafetiere of grand strongly brewed coffee has often been served, but no additional US$2 billed.
Kippers (because not all readers are familiar with international culinary terms) are whole herrings: a small oily fish, mainly caught in the North and Irish Seas, which are split head to tail, gutted, salted or pickled and cold-smoked.
Largely out of fashion and favour for many years, possibly because of their tendency to “repeat” (make you belch…and second hand smoky-salty fish isn’t pleasant) kippers have fairly recently made a huge comeback in Europe (especially the UK).
Although traditionally served at breakfast, they often comprise principal item in high tea.
Wherever I travel, I always look for kippers on breakfast menus, but often without luck in dear old Zim. I enjoyed them at Nesbitt Castle, Bulawayo; they’re always on the menu at The Butcher’s Kitchen, Borrowdale, sometimes at Spring Fever, Rowland Square.
Codfather’s kippers came with fresh, large, tasty eggs: cooked exactly as ordered: poached very soft, their runny buttercup yellow yolks mingled with smoky fish and was dipped into by hot buttery toast, and there wasn’t a smear left on the plate!
The Codfather, run by the Deeres (Jacquie and “Nibs”) has traded since 2011. For many years they’ve operated their major business: Sealife Seafoods, wholesaling and retailing fish, shellfish and other seafood at Rolf Valley.
Jacquie told me in a previous interview: “Opening a restaurant serving the sort of produce we import from all over the world seemed to make sense.”
Indeed it did!
And the Deeres’ professional peers from the world of Harare hospitality descended en masse on the place on Monday lunchtime.
Bunny Landon of The Cape Wine Academy conducted a seriously interesting and informative wine tasting on behalf of KWV wines, of which I thought the Brut sparkling wine, which was served to welcome us and a 2011 Chardonnay were the undoubted oenological stars.
When we finally sat down for lunch it was in the open air, but protected from the elements by buck sail-type shades and wind-protectors, perched on comfortably upholstered rustic benches at trestle-style tables, where the former farming family had their swimming pool.
At my bench/table of mainly Borrowdale-based restaurateurs, we tucked into sharing platters of brandade (an emulsion of salt cod and olive oil) with gherkins, deep-fried Kariba kapenta, calamari, butterflied prawns and prawn mousse in filo pastry as a lengthy, leisurely starter course with good breads and Melba toast, dips, sauces and a salad garnish.
Main course was really good golden fish and crispy chips (I think it was hake). How they managed to serve 30-odd of us simultaneously with cooking as good as this was a minor mystery to me.
Pudding was a Mocha Eton mess, which Jacquie developed from the traditional Eton Mess, served at Eton College, the world famous British public school, which few members of “the public” can ever attend!
The school pud involves strawberries (or any other berry or combinations thereof in season), cream and meringues; The Codfather’s presentation is without the fruit but features sophisticated Mocha coffee and a grown up dense, rich chocolate sauce.
A liquor licence application is in; but, in the meantime, BYOB: no corkage. There’s a wide range of cool drinks and non-alcoholic Malawi and club shandies available. At a recent brunch, I had a splendid cafetiere of strong filter breakfast coffee at US$2 and then, still thirsty, a chilled Sprite lemonade on the rocks at the same price.
The Codfather, 15 Dacomb Drive, Chisipite. Tel 498021/3; fax 498022; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Monday-to-Saturday lunch and supper; Sunday breakfast from 10am and lunch; fish braai available Sundays. Booking recommended weekdays, vital weekends.