Meikles Hotel, like its sister Victoria Falls Hotel, is synonymous with history, excellence and elegance and invokes treasured memories of special and glittering events — spectacular New Year fireworks lighting up the whole of downtown Harare after a sumptuous dinner, silver service dinners in La Fontaine and I am even old enough to remember business lunches in the subdued elegance of the Bagatelle restaurant.
BY LE CONNOISSEUR
Walking through the door guarded by the famed lions is an occasion and one to which my guest and I had been looking forward, even though we were only planning on a light lunch.
The Lounge is a raised area in the lobby to which the piano adds an air of elegance.
The Lounge was deserted when we sat down and although the piano remained silent throughout, the Lounge quickly filled up with groups of what appeared to be mostly business people reminding me of the advertising slogan “Meet you at Meikles”!
As we perused the well-designed menu we ordered a soft drink (note that alcohol is not served in the Lounge, but the Explorer’s Bar is close by, if a tipple is what you fancy). Several afternoon tea alternatives were offered, including High Tea after 2pm, plus an all-day selection of sandwiches, baguettes and toasts, and a wide selection of light lunches, including the Specialty of the Day, fish cakes, “select your own” finger snacks (mezze platter), an elaborate sounding Caesar salad, tuna wrap — all reasonably priced at between US$8 and US$12.
I ordered the daily special which was sirloin steak, vegetables and chips and my guest the potpie, both of us requesting, as is often the wont of “ladies who lunch”, that the chips be replaced by salad.
However, both dishes were after all served with chips, and so were returned, this time to meet our original request. My sirloin steak was in fact very generous slices of roast beef, which for me was too fatty and tough.
Both our food and our dishes were barely warm. Time constraint and the fact that we had already sent our meals back once, prevented us from doing so again to be heated up, to an acceptable temperature for a hot meal.
There was a very pretty arrangement of fresh flowers on our table, plus the traditional Meikles luxurious napkins. The presentation of the food, however, received scant attention.
Dessert was ice-cream or cake and we decided to share a slice of black forest gateau which was very pleasant, though lacked any attempt at attractive presentation.
Apart from an average lunch, our overall impression was of uninspired service by waiting staff lacking enthusiasm.
On a practical note, parking in the Hotel multi-storey park is refundable if you ask your waiter to sign your parking ticket which you then present at the exit.
Expect to spend US$7 to US$20
Meikles Hotel, Harare