Not many people call the restaurant at Harare’s Wild Geese Lodge by its proper name, which is The Goose. In fact, in chatting with several people, I discovered that very few even know it has a name and just assume it is the “Wild Geese dining room”. I think it’s fair to say most people who know the lodge do so because they go there for functions in the various banqueting venues, or pop along for Sunday lunch on the lawned terrace in front of the main building, without actually going into the restaurant itself.
restaurant review with Epicurean
It’s been a long time since I dined at The Goose, but my guest and I popped out for an early evening meal with manager Taylor Cameron on a very pleasant Wednesday evening. We arrived there in time to watch the sunset while having a pre-dinner drink in the small lounge, adjacent to the restaurant area and after what had apparently been a busy day with conference business going on, it was a pleasant, quiet evening.
Wild Geese Lodge seems to always have been there, but in fact its history dates back only to the 1980s, when it was started by author Daniel Carney and his wife, Sally. The name is taken from his best-selling novel, quite famous in the 1970s and even turned into a moderately successful film. There used to be a photo display in the reception and bar area related to the book and the film, but this was destroyed in a fire that raged through the main building some years ago, so it’s a pity that this history is no longer there for newcomers to discover.
Under new ownership for quite a few years, Taylor is now manager and enjoying the experience of a venue that offers popular accommodation, banqueting and conferencing facilities, although he would like to see more casual diners coming out in the evenings to enjoy meals in the restaurant. The drive to the lodge from the city is a gentle one and very enjoyable, though obviously not the brief part when one drives past the Pomona rubbish dump, scene of the recent much-publicised disastrous fire. It’s high time this venue was closed and a new site found, and I am sure everyone in the area looks forward to reclaiming the site for growth of trees and other vegetation.
When one gets to the lodge, there’s a feeling of being a long distance from the city, though it’s only a few kilometres from Vainona suburb and for many northern suburbs folk a drive there is no greater than going to other parts of the suburban sprawl where most Harare restaurants can be found. Arriving while it’s still light is ideal, as it gives a chance to enjoy the view from the lodge across to the hills of Christon Bank and Mazowe.
We had a mix of starters: chicken livers for Taylor, grilled prawns and calamari salad for my guest and crumbed brie for me.
They all looked – and tasted – delicious. The livers were cooked in a creamed, peri-peri sauce and served on top of pastry “crescents” while my brie was accompanied by a lovely cranberry sauce. Also on the starters list were offerings such as sweet sugarcane prawns, quail, deep-fried mushrooms or soup of the day. Prices range from $6 to $8.
There’s a very good main course selection, too, and I chose deboned lamb, while my guest selected pork chops and Taylor had the kingklip fillet. The lamb was superb and presented mostly unusually with a very tasty herb crust. The kingklip was moist and flavoursome and the pork chops were excellent. Also available was a good range of dishes, but I felt the offering for vegetarians was on the small side. Taylor said this was something he was already giving thought to and would be addressed with further menu updates. Main courses’ prices range from $7 to $22.
Desserts were equally satisfying: my guest had chocolate marquise with strawberry coulis, while I went for a delightful malva pudding with custard and ice-cream. Desserts are ranged from $4 to $6. Taylor did without, watching his waistline! Cappucinos ended the meal and the result was a very enjoyable meal that made the trip out of the city limits both rewarding and worthwhile.
The Goose has a very relaxing and charming ambience and is most deserving of greater custom from the dining-out public of Harare. As I said, the drive is worth it, although the distance is not great for folks anywhere between Marlborough in the west and Chisipite in the east, and especially folks in the Borrowdale area, for whom this is something of a “local”. If I were to be asked what more to add, it would possibly be some live music – a pianist in the background or suchlike, but certainly nothing overpowering or unsuitable. The restaurant is listed in some guides as being a family venue, and indeed all ages are welcome; I would probably, however, suggest a listing as a fine dining venue.
The Goose, Wild Geese Lodge, off Teviotdale (2 Buckland Lane). Call 04-2917977 or 0772 145 103 for reservations or information. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and supper every day. A really welcoming venue that is waiting to be discovered by many more diners.