Despite the growing worldwide trend towards vegetarianism, Zimbabwe is definitely a meat-eater’s country, and although more and more dining venues offer meat-free dishes, Zimbabweans are most likely to choose a “carnivore’s option”.
It must be obvious, then, that a restaurant specialising in meats of all kinds should be both popular and successful. Having opened doors in 2010 and still going strong, Mojo’s restaurant in Harare’s Avondale/Belgravia area has a focus on many meats, based on a South American-style presentation of barbecued meat.
Other parts of the meal are offered, of course, but they are definitely complementary to the “featured stars” of the show.
There’s even dessert, but I wonder how many people actually get to this part after such a delectable range of meats through the main part of the meal.
My visits to Mojo’s over the years have introduced me to the churrascaria, which is the description of this type of dining venue and, as I once commented previously, this is certainly a more interesting description than, say, steak house or meaterie.
The restaurant was created by Mohammed Samy, a general manager of Harare Sheraton in its pre-Rainbow Towers days, and Julie Webb, whose hospitality management experience ranges from Holiday Inn Harare and Leopard Rock in the Bvumba to Imba Matombo in Harare’s north-eastern Glen Lorne area.
They feel they have created a venue that has an offering of special appeal to Zimbabweans, with their love of meat, as well as foreign visitors who delight in being able to sample some genuine Zimbabwean beef, among other offerings.
The restaurant has a strong reputation, too, for top-end service standards and a warm, welcoming and comfortable ambience.
When my guest and I enjoyed lunch there on Monday, in very cold conditions in Harare, I was reminded that it was only a year or two ago that Mojo’s started opening on a day traditionally regarded as “closed” in the restaurant trade.
Recent economic situations have demanded everyone think out of the box, so being open on a former day off is the necessity. It was not especially busy, but for us this was great as we could enjoy a chat with Julie Webb.
Her involvement in the hospitality business takes her back to the 1980s days of Holiday Inn Harare, just after it opened and when legendary impresario Allan Riddell was that hotel’s entertainment director who kept young Julie on her toes!
Starters come in the form of a platter for the table, which changes in content weekly.
Ours had such a pleasing variety of tasty items ranging from devilled eggs and an American biscuit (a savoury scone) to chicken liver vol-au-vents, pork sausages in batter and bruschetta-type offerings with mushrooms.
Once done with the starter, we turned over our table cards (red for “leave me alone” and green for “next course, please”) and along came the salad, rice and sauce for the main course.
Meats come on large skewers — there seem to be a variety of names that these go by — and are served one by one. You can choose to take or decline, and it’s best to know in advance just how many will be coming so you don’t overdo it before your favourite meat comes along.
Key to enjoyment here is to go to Mojos with a good appetite and to not overindulge in drinks and starters; the main course is plentiful and sometimes goes to 12 different meat offerings.
As I said, one does not need to have every meat offered, but variety there certainly is: we had choices of boerewors, pork sausage, chicken in various styles, beef and pork, although these change each day and once before we had venison,too.
Desserts — if one can manage more — come with seven offerings; my guest and I shared a lemon cheesecake, which was excellent
There’s a standard charge of $30 per person, covering the starter and mains and desserts are $7 apiece.
There is also a choice of smaller offerings at $18 and $20 for lunchtime diners in need of express service.
A children’s price is also offered but there is no children’s menu as such and I imagine many people feel this is more of a grown-ups’ venue for celebratory groups, romantic twosomes or business dining
A good wine list is on offer, and Julie sources excellent wines from such suppliers as Danai Wines and The Stable Winery.
We had great service from waiter Chamunorwa Pedzisai and meat server Onias Chidambure, and I know many people enjoy the efficiency and friendliness of the team at the restaurant.
Mojos is open for lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday, and I think it still has a breakfast menu Monday to Saturday.
Conference and banqueting facilities are on hand, and weddings in the splendid gardens can host up to 350, usually under marquee.
Car parking is easy and safe within the premises.