Girls day out


A group of women friends recently made the very wise decision to have monthly lunches out. We started modestly at Café Nush with sandwiches, juices and coffee, progressed to The Mill last month for tapas and wine, and last week graduated to Amanzi for a full blown decadent meal. hot pepper soupMid week lunch out with wine and good friends is a great way to blow away the blues and gives a whole different perspective to the afternoon.
Amanzi is one of Harare’s perennial favourites and their fusion menu attracts a diverse clientele. We noted African and Western diplomats, a table of Asians and a group of local businessmen. Plus of course — our table — aspiring to become cheerful ladies who lunch.

A gloomy, overcast day made it too cold to sit on the verandah so we sat inside where the addition of a gas heater made it snug and warm enough to shed several layers. Recently redecorated the décor is soothing and stylish. Draped white table linen, un-matching chairs in different woods and a moss green wall make for a serene space. Assorted art works — wooden sculptures, decorated bowls — as well as a collection of mirrors mounted on one wall as an interesting feature — give the interior a luxurious feel added to by the lovely tropical garden. With a welcoming bar area spilling out onto a comfortable verandah lounging space, the restaurant is very inviting.
The menu makes sharing an easy option — and we sampled a selection of starters between the four of us. Scallops are a shellfish I have never tried before though they feature on numerous cooking programmes. Similar in texture to perlemoen now protected in South Africa (familiar from those huge mother of pearl shells, once used as ashtrays in student households) these were served on discs of black pudding on top of a bright green pea puree (US$13). The different textures and flavours made it a delicious combination. Too squeamish for black pudding (a Scottish treat made from pig’s blood) two friends were more than ready for the sushi platter (US$10). But an unexpected run on sushi meant only one platter left but it was a nice selection including prawns and salmon.

Highlight for me was the Nigerian inspired chicken pepper soup (US$8), which I have been wanting to try for some time but always seem to end up at Amanzi on a warm day. The chilly weather made it a good choice and it was delicious. Made with real chicken stock and hot pepper it was a beautiful, shimmering, russet colour and tasted divine, with just the right hot hit of flavour — needing no extra seasoning.

Baby calamari (US$15) were served piping hot in a lovely garlicky sauce. Only disappointment was the haddock — cooked perfectly but not very exciting looking. Mains are all interesting combinations. We only tried the seared duck breast (US$25) served with baked spicy apple and carrot crisps, but other choices include five spice oxtail – tempting for a winter’s evening — as well as a variety of fish and fowl — salmon, hake, quail.
None of us had desserts – making do with rather expensive espresso (US$3) and, disappointingly, only peppermints with the bill. Lunching there the day before with her daughter, one of our party was treated to ferro rocher chocolates so we were looking forward to those. However, along with the sushi they had run out of those on this day. Maybe next time. Variety in the menu along with welcoming and professional staff makes repeat visits a must. Thumbs up too for an up-to-date website colour coded green like the new look restaurant.

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