When asked which are the busiest restaurants in Harare, I almost always place on top of the list the popular Queen of Hearts, a multi-purpose venue that never fails to amaze with its constant flow of customers.
Situated in Highlands, just off the busy Enterprise Road, it has in only a few short years transformed itself into a very buzzy café-restaurant-bar, surrounded by a series of retail outlets.
In the past year or so I have been on weekdays and over weekends, as well as in the evening, and the flow of customers seems constant. It started out as a café, but has grown into a venue that provides a large measure of variety.
During the daytime the focus is on social interaction and light dining, while evenings and weekend have a clear focus on a specialised sushi content. On Friday evenings there are pizza and curry specials, with entertainment, and there are frequent events, such as the recent annual wine festival that has become exceptionally popular.
It’s also a venue that has not stood still in terms of infrastructure.
I remember its original offering was a small indoors section and a short terrace, with a modest garden area.
Today, it has been transformed into a huge complex, with the retail outlets surrounding the central dining and bar venues.
There is an attractive indoors section, which leads out to a large terrace entirely covered by a marquee, and further out is a second al fresco seating area under the trees.
A pizza kitchen stands close to the bar area and a barista’s caravan. My guest and I had lunch recently on a very hot day, with thunder rolling overhead and ending with an afternoon storm.
We chose to sit indoors, looking out across the terrace, and liked the attractiveness of the finish of the venue, with imitation pressed metal ceilings and Venetian-style black and white tiled floor. I saw there was a new bar area created indoors, although not open when we were there; this was something new to me. Despite the obvious problems of this past few weeks, the menu looked both varied and appetising and the prices lower than many around town at the present time.
For her meal, my guest had a Danish feta and roasted butternut salad ($12), while I went for Cajun-style grilled chicken strips with chips and salad ($12,50). Both were very tasty and portion sizes were good; in fact, we took home a fair percentage of both dishes.
We followed with a slice of lemon cheesecake each, and we had excellent kitchen-made lemonade through the meal, with a total bill of $45. In contrast to some of the outrageous prices I have seen and heard of, this was reasonable by any standard.
It’s not easy running a dining venue at the moment, with a mix of short supply and overpriced inputs to contend with, so well done to the Queen of Hearts team for the appearance of normality which is what one wants to find when going out.
The menu features not only light meals but also daytime fare such as pastries and cakes, and it is popular as a place to have breakfast, lunch or dinner, as well as coffees or teas throughout the day. I think it’s a popular meeting place for less formal business meetings, and this is a good sign. As a family venue, there is a children’s choice section that offers fish fingers and chips and other items
The last time I looked around the retail outlets, there was a huge variety of operations, featuring yoga, flowers and home décor, a wine cellar, a spa, learning centre, clothing shops, gym, hair salon, children’s items’ shop and other outlets; I did not check this time to see if all were still there but the place was busy.
Queen of Hearts is something of a Harare suburban “must-do” restaurant-café, and it now has a reputation as a great social venue.
My only word of advice would be to ensure that staff don’t “forget” their tables, as second orders and calling for the bill should always be as swiftly responded to as initial welcome and ordering.
This has happened to me several times and it disappoints one.
Queen of Hearts is at 1 Hurworth Road, corner Enterprise Road, in Highlands, and can be found on FaceBook. Call 0771 929914 for enquiries and reservations. E-mail email@example.com.