Llew Hughes is one of Harare’s longest-serving restaurateurs, having started his first dining establishment restaurant back in 1979. Almost 40 years on, he is still in the game and has recently embarked on an exciting new culinary venture, called Garfunkels Grill, set in the trendy ambience of Harare’s very busy Sam Levy’s Village.
Llew is in demand not only for his food and service, but also for his experience, the latter used to full extent with a recent talk on the history of restaurants in Harare and elsewhere in the country. The History Society of Zimbabwe invited him last Sunday June 17 to talk to a well-attended gathering of members and others about the history of dining venues in the capital and other centres.
He was able to give a colourful account of places going back to what is often described as Harare’s first proper restaurant, Pocket’s Tea Room, set up a century ago, first in what is now Robert Mugabe Road and then later moving to Jason Moyo Avenue. His talk was well-received and his knowledge and experience reinforced his status as one of the “godfathers” of the food trade in this country.
Llew was founder owner and manager of Clovagalix, a restaurant with an amazing reputation and with a superb ambience in the Fife Avenue Shopping Centre. Apart from its great food and mood, it was also the restaurant that pioneered live singing most evenings. Llew later moved out to Sam Levy’s Village and opened Café Med, which in turn became Café Miller and, more recently, Lluigees.
Now, on this same prime site, he welcomes guests to Garfunkels Grill, a creation that has seen a partnership of the Garfunkels meat company.
Newly involved in the venture is another well-known and well experienced restaurateurs, Daniel Marini, known in the past decade or so for ventures such as Leonardo’s and Bojangles.
My visit to Garfunkels just before his talk was also filled with chats about restaurateurs and restaurants past and present. It’s not easy to chat, as the venue is busy and Llew is constantly chatting to guests and staff.
Garfunkels has a prized position for a Harare restaurant: right in the heart of Sam Levy’s Village, close to the main Borrowdale Road running through the various shopping centres on both sides.
It’s cosmopolitan and charming and there’s plenty of opportunity for people-watching.
Something new for Harare is having the waiter punch orders straight into an e-connected tablet, which feeds the order to kitchen and cashier, and apparently helps with stock control. The wonders of technology!
The Garfunkels company involvement means there’s a substantial pork presence on the menu, given that this company is a major producer of pork and processed pork products, rivalling the longstanding Colcom brand. But the menu has a great many other treats and many of them have come from menus of the past that Llew knows will sell well with his customers, a lot of them regulars over a long time.
My guest and I started with the antipasto platter, which could be served for two or four, and at $14 for two or $16 for four is good value for money.
On the platter were salads, olives, feta cheese and an attractive selection of Garfunkels Italian and German-style special meats like salami, Black Forest and prosciutto.
Accompanying this was a full-plate focaccia, with thin crust base, all of excellent quality and very enjoyable. For mains my guest enjoyed a huge and tasty eisbein, a giant ham-style meat originated in Germany, served on the bone, accompanied by sauerkraut and other vegetables and mashed potato. She managed a portion of it before taking home the remainder for one or two follow-up meals. I had the bream fillets and chips, which were also excellent.
These sell for $16 and $13 respectively, both value for money.
We should have said no to desserts but we didn’t: exciting pavlova for my guest and a really enjoyable granadilla cheesecake for me $5 each).
No wines for us, but there is an excellent wine list that has been styled on the needs of diners for accompaniment with the variety of meals on offer.
The menu is very varied: starters , salads, steaks, pork dishes, grill combos, two chicken dishes, fish and seafood section, pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and desserts.
Also on the menu is a children’s section for smaller meals and a breakfast line-up for the weekend morning trade (this includes a remarkable $5 breakfast featuring two eggs, bacon, sausage, grilled tomato and toast).
Prices are reasonable and the quality is good, judged by my recent experiences of eating there, over and above this specific tasting lunch.
There’s a fun competition running at the moment, up to July 1, in which diners can get a free packet of a Garfunkels meat product for $100 spent, either in one go or in accumulated receipts.
Garfunkels Grill is open between 11am and 9pm from Monday to Friday and between 8am and 9pm on Saturday and Sunday.
It’s licensed and on the menu there is a fun selection of appealing cocktails which I must try out next time I visit.
A daily special is on offer, at a standard $12 for a satisfactory portion on what is the special of the day. It’s in Sam Levy’s Village, Borrowdale, with parking available right outside. I should think reservations are a good idea on most