The Monomotapa Hotel is one of Harare’s most distinctive buildings, with a crescent-shaped frontage that has overlooked Harare Gardens since it was built and opened in 1974. In the past 45 years the hotel has had quite a few restaurants within its premises, and it is always fun to recall them when dining there these days.
The hotel was called the Monomatapa when it was first opened in by the then Southern Sun Corporation, an offshoot of what is now Delta Beverages. Names from the 70s and 80s include such illustrious dining and drinking venues as Prospectors, Bali Hai, The 12 000 Horsemen, The Homestead and others. In the early 2000s the hotel hosted for a time a well-known restaurant that moved in from the suburbs called Le Francais.
Over the years the company’s name has changed — from Southern Sun to Meikles Southern Sun, then to Zimbabwe Sun and, finally, to African Sun. Branding has changed too, with the hotel becoming Crowne Plaza Monomotapa in the 1990s and, more recently, becoming the Monomotapa again (but with the new, probably more accurate spelling). Management of the hotel is franchised out to Legacy Hotels of South Africa which gives it a reach into a well-supported international network.
Today the hotel’s dining venues are Monos restaurant and the Parkview Brasserie, and it was in the latter that a guest and I had lunch before the busy conference season started, with resultant large numbers having lunch there. We enjoyed this quieter ambience, and had a good, long chat with the friendly and efficient food and beverage manager, Patrick Muswere, and enjoyed a quick chat with executive sous chef Pardon Mudenge; executive chef leonard Moyo was on leave at the time.
Meals in Parkview are buffet style, and include breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. We started with mushroom soup, which was brought to the table for us. Then we helped ourselves to items from the interesting and varied selection of offerings for the main course on the colourful and attractive buffet. In the layout were salads, pork chops, pepper steaks, chicken, rice, sadza, roast vegetables and, unusually, trout. We tried a bit of everything and had a delightful meal from this imaginative and well-prepared selection. For desserts we had a small but tasty selection of cakes and pastries from an equally colourful and interesting layout. We ended with coffee.
We sat indoors, but there is an attractive and pleasant outdoors seating area overlooking the hotel’s own garden and over into the lawns and trees of Harare Gardens. The restaurant is bright and modern and we enjoyed the ambience, which was busy but not overly so. The venue can host 120 diners inside and a further 30 outdoors, so it is one of the larger restaurants in Harare.
Patrick Muswere was an interesting conversation companion, and we talked about his 29 years in the hospitality industry, at places such as Cresta Jameson, Cresta Lodge and Cresta Oasis, as well as at Pamuzinda Safari Lodge near Selous, in the days when this was opened and run by the Cresta Hotels group. He has a keen eye for detail and has a long history of interaction with all manner of visitors, including some top-level international travellers. At one point we were joined by GM Valentine Halimani, doing his lunchtime rounds, and he was able to chat about upcoming events at the hotel. Like all hoteliers he has been pleased with an upturn in business during the past 18 to 24 months and was hopeful of a sustained revival in coming months and years.
Parkview Brasserie was a charming and welcoming dining venue and prices were reasonable in an era of some eye-watering costs at various eating places around the country. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and my guest and I liked the friendly and efficient service. This restaurant offers quick, easy dining and is highly suitable not only for in-house guests but also for people coming from around the hotel in the CBD, or even from further afield; there is parking in the adjacent car park. I should think that, when conferences are on, reservations will be necessary.
Source : The Herald