Over the years, Harare’s five-star Meikles Hotel has had a number of dining venues within its walls, and its reputation for culinary excellence has long been a fact.
Meikles Hotel opened its doors on November 15, 1915, and since that time has carried through this plan by laying on creative and welcoming dining opportunities.One of the reported aims of the hotel’s famous founder, Tom Meikle, was to create good restaurants to serve the people of Harare and the many hotel guests from around the world.
Although I personally had no experience of the original hotel, situated on the corner of Sam Nujoma Street and Jason Moyo Avenue, many people remember its large and glamorous dining room, along with such places as the veranda looking out to Africa Unity Square and the long-running Causerie of the 1920s and 1930s – a name revived in the south wing building when it was opened in the 1970s.
As many readers will know, the hotel’s flagship is La Fontaine Grillroom, which was opened on December 8 1958 in what was then the brand new east wing on the corner of Jason Moyo Avenue and Third Street.
A big 60th anniversary celebration is being arranged for later this year for that well-known dining venue.
Other names that have come and gone have included Palm Court, Mirabelle, Bagatelle, the Tanganda Lounge and The Pavilion; the latter two are still operational today.
It’s on The Pavilion that the focus falls this week, as this popular venue is now one of the busiest eateries in Harare, in no small measure because it is the breakfast venue for the hotel’s guests and is also lunch venue for people attending conferences there.
It was created during the major refurbishment programme across Meikles Hotel in 1992-1993 and its purpose was to be a buffet restaurant for conferencing and banqueting guests, as well as a place for casual diners to enjoy a meal at the pace they themselves dictate.
It enjoyed a short but thorough refurbishment a couple of years ago, bringing it an attractive and bright new look.
Diners can eat either inside the restaurant or on the terrace outside, which overlooks the roof garden to trees and lawns of Africa Unity Square, and this is without doubt an al fresco experience that is pleasing in summer and on winter days.
The buffet is stylish and attractive, with stations for soups, salads, meats, main course accompaniments, dessert and a cheeseboard.
Drinks are provided by waiter service from the bar installed in the venue.
New executive chef Bosco Govera has been tasked with restyling the buffet, along with menu revamps throughout the hotel, and it is these occasional changes that help keep it fresh and appealing.
Food from a buffet is often thought to be standard and relatively unappealing, but fortunately this is not the case in The Pavilion, where the layout is visually attractive and the content enjoyable and tasty.
When we dined most recently, my guest and I started with an excellent mushroom soup, with a wide selection of breads and bread rolls on offer to accompany it, and followed with a great and main course selection of salads.
Our main course included beef, chicken and fish, along with a good selection of vegetables and rice.
The choice was extensive and I should think all diners, vegetarians included, will enjoy the fare. We enjoyed a superb selection of desserts, too, including panacotta and cake, then ended with coffee.
It was a good, hearty meal and of a very high standard.
The Pavilion also promotes itself for Sunday breakfast, not only for guests but for casual diners and when there are special events in the hotel, such as Christmas and new year, as well as Valentine’s day, this venue makes its unique offering, always based on the buffet facility, of course.
One of my favourite themes is encouraging Harare people to lose their “CBD-phobia” and to get into the city centre to experience what is on offer – especially at an upmarket venue such as Meikles Hotel and particularly at times when here are no worries about busy traffic.
Evenings and Sunday mornings work in this regard.
Don’t miss out on a superlative dining experience, as found in The Pavilion, because of this fear.
The Pavilion Bistro is highly recommended and is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is situated on the first floor of Meikles Hotel, corner Third Street and Jason Moyo Avenue, Harare. Bookings through (024) 2707721 firstname.lastname@example.org.