Fishmonger is a restaurant that seems to me to be one that is always busy.
Whenever I drive past this venue at lunchtimes or in the evenings, there is an admirable (and enviable) number of vehicles in the car park and I know a great many other dining venues who would do anything for that kind of support.
There must, of course, be a reason for that popularity, and a visit there for a meal will confirm that the reason is in two parts: a good selection of seafood and a consistently good presentation thereof.
We dined there on a recent Thursday evening, and there was indeed a good number of diners looking for a great culinary experience, with a busy car park outside.
The restaurant is on East Road on the border of Avondale and Belgravia, a street that hosts an interesting selection of restaurants, including Mojos, St Elmo’s, Gava’s and the Great Wall, and I often think that if more come there it could be become the culinary centre of Harare.
Most of these restaurants are situated in former residential homes, including Fishmonger, which has maintained the basic look of that home and has extended to present a mix of indoor, veranda and terrace dining spaces.
Several gatherings of the restaurateurs and hoteliers group have taken place at Fishmonger in recent years and all have been well supported, with manager Zelda Baker creating a lavish and tantalising seafood barbecue for most of those lunches.
I understand that these barbecues are hosted occasionally for the public, too, mostly in the cooler months of the year and I would heartily recommend an outing to readers who hear of any coming up.
The menu is fairly extensive and there is also a board featuring specials; this is changed from time to time, not only for reasons of availability of product, but also because there is a high level of return business so people will be looking for a reasonable measure of menu choice if they are not folk who go back again and again, as I do at certain restaurants, for tried, tested and loved dishes.
On the night we dined, my guest started with asparagus spears ($7) and I had a delightful plate of grilled sardines ($8), a dish that is very much part of Portuguese culinary offerings — and I suppose for many other seafaring nations, too.
For mains, I had the recommended seafood linguine, which was outstanding and featured prawns, calamari and mussels in a tomato-based sauce over a good portion of pasta.
At $16 I felt this was good value for money, and I had the same dish only a few days later when a friend invited me to lunch, and the dish was as good second time round.
My guest had a thoroughly enjoyable sailor’s platter, which featured hake, queen prawns, calamari and chips ($21).
A table nearby had the captain’s platter, which easily fed the three of them and had enough for a fourth person, and at $45 seemed a good price for a very hearty meal; it looked – and apparently tasted — excellent.
The menu and wine list are varied and interesting and the venue itself has a warm and welcoming ambience.
We had a chance to chat to Zelda Baker and another manager, Butch Culverwell, and in discussion I was surprised to find the restaurant has now been open for 15 years.
We had super service from server Melody Chinami, who apparently is a whizz kid when it comes to the sushi dishes on the menu, also unsurprisingly popular with increasing numbers of diners there.
The cuisine at Fishmonger has a very positive reputation around town, deservedly so, and it is a venue that offers a product line-up that is popular with Zimbabwean diners, who clearly enjoy the seaside feel of the restaurant, all these hundreds of kilometres from the coast.
Highly recommended as a really good seafood restaurant, Fishmonger is at 50 East Road. Call (0242) 308164 or 302285 for reservations, which I should think are essential at weekends.
The restaurant is open from 12 noon to 9pm every day, but closes earlier, after the lunchtime session, on Sunday.
Special events are laid on and should be looked out for, and if you hear of the seafood barbecue to be hosted any time soon, my recommendation is: jump at it!
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