Friendly welcome in charming suburban setting

The Epicurean
It has often been said that Harare has an almost perfect climate, and it’s therefore not just natural but imperative that many of the city’s dining venues provide an outdoor experience, whether exclusively or as part of an overall offering.

One of the great many eateries offering this outdoor experience is a venue wholly new to me when I dined there earlier this week: Hope Floats.

It is a charming, suburban café in the heart of a small but busy retail complex, overlooking a green and pleasant garden with a canopy of tree shade overhead. It offers great value and a lovely, uncomplicated menu, with really super service.

As I said, Harare’s climate really and truly is excellent and, in real terms, the city with its high elevation and distance from coast and desert never gets hot and never gets cold.

That does not stop the whinging, of course, and I have to admit that one of my greatest flaws is feeling murderous when Harare folk complain of the cold and the heat; these grumblers spend the cooler months whining about the cold and the minute it warms up they are on about the heat. And when it rains, there’s too much rain, and when it does not rain, then we ‘live in a desert!’ Come on, people, just enjoy the reality . . . and the good luck we Harare folk have!

We had lunch on Tuesday, a superb warm day with blue sky overhead and a light breeze blowing through the veranda area on which we sat.

Three exciting dishes

Hope Floats is in The Hub, on Hindhead Avenue in Chisipite, literally across the road from the main shopping centre and close to schools like Oriel Boys’ High and Chisipite Senior and Junior.

Surrounded by more than a handful of other retail outlets, the café has seating on the veranda and in the garden, and it is a peaceful and delightful setting for coffee and a cake, or a milkshake with the children, or a lovely light lunchtime meal.

My guest and I were both total newcomers, so we were pleased to be welcomed by owner Roleen Searing, who opened it a year-and-a-half ago as her first venture into the hospitality business.

She has been pleased with business, though obviously happy to take on loads more. Her aim is a friendly, easy-going café with reasonably-priced fare that appeals to all market segments. And it looks to me like she has achieved all that.

I had the ploughman’s platter for my main course, a lovely creation of biscuits, toasted bread, Italian-style ham, salami, gerkhins, cheeses and sauces.

I really enjoy ploughman’s platter and am surprised that no-one in town else serves it so, well done to Roleen for adding it to her menu.

It was filling, satisfying and very enjoyable, and at $7.50 a good price. My guest had an onion and feta quiche with salad, which she found very enjoyable and also very much filling.

One of our neighbouring tables ordered the open sandwich with chicken filling, apparently the most popular dish on the menu, so we chose to include that in our photograph of the main courses.

The beef filling is equally interesting, one of the other diners, a regular, told me.

There’s a wide range of all-day treats, as well as lunchtime options, and a good selection of teas, coffees and cold beverages.

Roleen has not licensed the venue but people can bring along their own wine and there is no corkage for that, of course.

We also had desserts, and as one of the day’s specials was lemon meringue pie, we both decided to go for this. What a treat that was: cheerfully tasty and designed with a high-top flourish that was fun. After that, coffees before heading home.

The quiches go for $3,50, while the desserts were $2,50 each.

We asked Roleen where the name came from and it was a simple answer: “from my favourite movie, Hope Floats, which starred Sandra Bullock.” It’s open each weekday from 9am to 4pm (though coffees, cakes and biscuits are available from 8.30am) and on Saturday from 9am to 12.30pm, times which fit in with their other retail outlets in The Hub.

Booking is probably a good idea as there are sometimes busy periods that happen unannounced and it would be a pity to lose out on a spot in this lovely café.

Lemon meringue with a fun twist

Quite a few folk call for takeaways, including coffees, and these are easily ordered over the ‘phone.

Special events take place there from time to time, most recently a picnic for 70 schoolgirls, placed out on the lawns in front of the veranda seating area.

The team also enjoy hosting high teas for groups such as birthday parties and will open on Saturday afternoon for events such as these.

Hope Floats is a wonderful, relatively new venue that is fair on pockets and fair on palates. We enjoyed the service of our service provider, Lollie, and the charming welcome from Roleen and her son, Darion, who was mostly busy in the kitchen while were there.

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