Burgers, breakfasts, banting at ‘167’

I have written in the past about the restaurant at 167 Enterprise Road, formally known as Theo’s House of Coffees, but which has much more to it than coffees. In the past couple of years this venue has become something of a buzz spot and it’s certainly one of the busiest suburban meeting places in Harare, offering up dining, coffee and tea outings, shopping, entertainment, corporate and consumer events and children’s and teens’ activities.

EPICUREAN

Lollie Nel, who runs the venue, introduced a selection of Friday burgers some time ago, and has recently expanded these somewhat … and they can be sourced on other days, too. She chose Fridays because parents with school-going students often like to give the young folk a dining treat after school on Friday, and she felt this would be a popular choice for them.

When we dined there on Friday lunchtime, my guest and I had variations on a theme that showed me burgers were among the most versatile of meal types, not simply the minced beef options that are the norm for the most part and which I have always regarded them as being.

I had a Thai Chicken Burger, which comes in a fresh hamburger roll, with a chicken pattie topped by four prawns, and served with a peanut sauce, chips and salad. At $6 this is great value, and the meal itself was both delightfully tasty and a large portion. My guest had the new Banting Burger, created to serve the needs of the growing number of adherents to this diet. It is served without the burger roll, and features a beef pattie served with brinjal, tomato, mushrooms and salad. This is also $6.

A breakfast burger was served for our tasting, and this is available every day as one of the many breakfast offerings on the menu. It features a fresh roll, a sausage pattie topped with bacon, fried eggs and French fries, and is also a very satisfying portion. This, too, is $6.

On the Friday we visited, Lollie had additionally placed on the menu $6 Barbecue Burgers and Veggie Delites, the latter to serve the needs of the vegetarians among us, featuring a potato pattie topped with creamed spinach, grilled feta, chips and salad. As with all the burgers coming on rolls, there is usually a choice of either a wholewheat or standard white roll.

Spoiling myself, I went along next morning and tried another innovation: Theo’s Benedict, a variation of the eggs Benedict, featuring two potato cakes topped with poached eggs, creamed spinach and a Hollandaise sauce. A $6 treat that really delighted the palate and which I will be having again.

Lollie is also introducing a Monday special: a two-course Golden Oldies luncheon, which changes from time to time and features such favourites as bangers and mash, cottage pie, steak and kidney pie and similar ‘comfort food’ options. She decided to do this as the hair salon on site, Shaytiques, offers over-60s a special price on Mondays, and the ‘golden oldies’ food could well be enjoyed by a number of ‘golden oldies’ of the human variety. I suspect many more people of all ages will be along for these.

Weekend specials include breakfast dishes additional to the ones already on the standard a la carte menu. A Banting breakfast – different, of course, from the Banting Burger – is now a permanent feature. Each day the menu is also offering a muffin or scone – I sampled a spinach and feta muffin a little while ago and was very pleased with it.

As the restaurant is called Theo’s House of Coffees, I checked out the beverages available (which also run to tea, rooibos, hot chocolate, hot chocolate with Tia Maria, milkshakes and minerals). Coffees include filter, espresso, latte and cappuccino. I have really come to enjoy the 167 iced coffee, which is hugely satisfying and great for our ongoing hot summer days. Also available for a treat are iced coffee with Amarula and an Amarula latte.

The restaurant is set on a hilltop in Chisipite, surrounded by a beautiful garden, swimming pool and a series of shops; among these are retailers of tiles, motorcycles, spares and accessories, home décor, fine jewellery, health and beauty products, clothing, cosmetics and art, as well as providing a plant nursery, printing and graphic design, hairdressing, inflatables for children’s parties and picture framing. While the restaurant is open daily, including Sundays, from 8am to 5pm, the shops run from 9am to 4.30pm, as well as on Saturday mornings. Some are open throughout the weekend.

Events have become something of a feature at 167, including regular quiz nights (next one this Tuesday, January 26 at 6.45pm), monthly singing and supper shows (next up Down Memory Lane with Mande Snyman and Kevin Hanssen on February 18) and supper theatre nights. Corporate events in the recent past have included an Argentinian-style barbecue for one company and a Mardi Gras night for a wine distributor. There’s a paintball venue on site and this is very popular with teens and teens at heart, while a pilates school runs there early mornings with what seems to be a very good support base.

A carols and Christmas songs evening in December proved a hit, and will be repeated this year on Africa Unity Day, while recent events have included the Eastern Highlands Expo (a travel trade show), lunches of the Advertising and Publicity Club and a children’s treasure hunt. In April, the venue will host a Shakespeare weekend as the world commemorates the 400th anniversary of The Bard’s death.

How Lollie Nel manages all this – usually with the assistance of her son, Theo – is beyond me; she never seems to take a day off! However, her personal attention to customers is something that impresses me and she really seems to enjoy her interaction with them all. Lollie has been at 167 for some time, but in the decade or so before that had been the highly successful operator of the famed Hot Springs Resort in the Save Valley, south of Mutare, but had been forced off this in the early 2000s. Sadly for her – and everyone else – Hot Springs is a very pale shadow of its former self now, by all accounts.

Theo’s House of Coffees, 167 Enterprise Road, Chisipite, Harare. Call 0772 881877 for information and reservations, or e-mail Lollie at hotsprings@zol.co.zw. Great variety and style, with a special emphasis on affordability and value for money, and on serving family groups or parties.

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