By Norma Tsopo
The enchanting Musangano Lodge restaurant’s warm African art inspired interior décor is something of a con – while it gave the impression that it would limit itself to a simplistic traditional Zimbabwean cuisine it offered way more.
This little restaurant’s menu of over 50 dishes was a brave claim, I thought. I was even sure that could not deliver.
And boy, was I so wrong!
The menu has a beautiful blend of local influences it has central European roots. There was every hint that it was carefully designed.
There is everything for any dietary preference – from vegetarians, vegans, gluten free, nuts and seeds free and lactose free.
But then again, looking around there was no sign of that lofty chef who would silently claim all the credit for the delectable fine dining table d’hôtel three-course dinner with the choice of two main dishes that we were being offered.
Picking a menu and having the food was an enthralling voyage of discovery that would embarrass my initial perceptions of this hidden treasure trove of cooking art.
Well-served meals are central to Zimbabwean traditional hospitality. There are usually no compromising with visitors’ dining experiences – and they stay true to that.
Soup has always been my ultimate warm me up comfort food. With mushroom soup being my favorite gourmet soup my starter choice was obvious.
I was sold when it came full of hearty, earthy mushrooms.
There is just no reason to make your stomachs grumble in envy at my choice of main courses and dessert. I refuse to be cruel!
To start the day, they offered us their combination of English and Continental Breakfast. The buffet breakfast had cereals, fresh fruits and juices, jam, marmalade, honey, spread, cheese and cold meat. Part of the breakfast menu that includes beacon, sausage and eggs are prepared to order.
Although we didn’t stay for lunch there is a choice of snacks light lunches – salads, sandwiches, soups and quiches between mid-morning and early afternoon with their rich a’ la’ cate menu remaining presenting options for a heavier meal.
Besides the cozy comforts of the intimate and homely split-level restaurant with the capacity of taking 32 dinners at a time it has a great lush and spacious out-door garden setting under indigenous trees.
We are sure returning for their weekend barbecues and only this time on their pool-side leisure area.
The discovery voyage could not have been complete without them explaining how they are keeping up with international culinary standards.
There is an obvious but untold story about their kitchen.
The delicate blending of their central European cuisine and ingredients from Zimbabwe and the Southern African region is something that I was certain didn’t happen overnight but was developed carefully by local and central European professional hands over a long period.
Their service was clearly not something that happened by chance.
On enquiry, I learnt of their relationship with Senior Expert Services, a pool of retired experts from various disciplines in German.
Celebrated chef – Helmet Liu has been to their kitchen several times and continues to support the restaurant through periodic reviews. His professional hand has helped them get the best of central Europe and southern Africa’s culinary worlds.
Seating invitingly less than three kilometres off the Harare-Mutare highway in a serene natural environment, the countryside restaurant offers a perfect dining experience that has guests always coming back.
Like I will always do when I come anywhere near this part of the world!