Changes In Our Capital
- 26/ 3/ 2005 <--Prev : Next-->
CHANGES IN OUR CAPITAL !!
SENT IN BY AN HARARE LOVER !! (EDITED !!)
Time, ladies and gentlemen ... please: ... what a pity - they are all
The once much-loved George Hotel in Avondale closed on January 4 - sold
to Multi-Choice as their new HQ. A planned valedictory meal in
the grotesquely named Freckle and Phart pub, or the depressing dining
room, which was reminiscent of railway architecture circa 1946, was
aborted, as it was semi-gutted well before closure.
Next door was Nick's Place where you went to sober up after a night out
Further up George Road, some Greeks opened a nice restaurant, the
Acropolis. The business was then run by the flamboyant Spiros Blismas,
Later Terry Rossiters son ran the place!
The Charleston Hotel (ex-Kamfinsa Park) is also shut: "Due to ever
rising," I heard. Both the above places underwent major changes in
clientele, facilities, and ambience, even cleanliness but are fondly
remembered for special functions and The George, especially for wedding
receptions, when the Cambitzis ran it.
Since independence Harare lost the popular Windsor Hotel on Baker
(Nelson Mandela) Avenue. It housed the Colony, where Edwin and
Rachelle played twin pianos to international cabaret standards to
discerning diners in formal finery. The Lincoln Room had fantastic
value for money food in luxurious surroundings. It closed late November
1980 when the set three-course lunch, featuring baron of beef, rolled
to the table and carved to order was $1,50.
1890 was the cocktail bar. Popular with lunchtime philanderers, it shut
at 2:30 sharp, when drinkers moved next door to Branch Office (ex-Blue
Room) opening 10:30 t o 10:30. Some heroic boozers returned to 1890,
which shut at 11:30.
The Egg and I was in the same building, as was Lion's Den: almost
impossible to enter unless in the RLI.
The day the Windsor closed (earlier than announced to avoid vandalism
seen at Meikles' Long Bar by "souvenir hunters") beer was 38c; bar
Opposite was a complex housing the raucous Round Bar and Le Coq d'Or
where little French was heard. The building was owned by a religious
sect, which left the country at UDI. The premises were banned from
selling drink or tobacco; dancing was proscribed. For years they
thought it was a library! Picture the indignation when they found the
country's most bawdy, boozy, bare-knuckled, bra-less nightlife had
flourished there for years!
Playboy was nearby, as was La Boheme: nothing to do with opera, it
offered strippers of often-venerable years and was a target of an
inexpertly thrown grenade during the "bush war". The entrance fee for
Sunset Strip was 2 shillings and sixpence." The Gentlemen" were the
popular Rock band that played at Saturday Lunchtimes and Sunday
Three major Chinese outlets closed after 1980: Golden Dragon, a hangout
of pre-independence Ministry of Information people, the bar a favourite
with international journalists,
The Bamboo Inn with a dark, dingy but somehow appealing pub run by the
Kee family and later by an Irishman called (of course) Paddy and The
Mandarin, next to Meikles Store which had no bar, but hacks and
hackettes gathered round a service hatch as if in a Fleet Street club.
Down the way the Pink Panther also had a grenade lobbed in during
the hondo. Run by two aged sisters from the Caucasus, they served
kebabs at the original site, later Linquenda House. One also owned the
PP later became Alfredo's then Front Page: restaurants with lively
pubs, gregarious regulars, and liberal hours. The "Page" owners: a
blonde and a brunette belonged in international glamour magazines.
Pino's in Union Avenue (Kwame Nkrumah) was arguably the best seafood
joint around, but gained notoriety when someone complained and the
ebullient eponymous Portuguese proprietor whacked him over the pip with
a flambe pan.
The Bombay duck between Jameson (Samora Machel) and Central was run,
improbably, by ex-BSAP troopie, Tug Wilson; it served iridescent
curries all hours for next to nothing.
In Greendale Avenue was the locals' idea of an English Pub, The Red
At Msasa, The Red Lantern, run by S-W African (Namibian) Germans
specialised in eisbein, knackwurst and bratwurst that I can still smell
Beverly Rocks was a hospitable hostel: good food, great music, lovely
gardens, (now a government training centre.)
Going east, the old Jamaica Inn was run by various characters including
cross eyed Ruby Strutt, who was married to Jimmy Shields, the racing
Driver; an ex-Federal hangman and Commonwealth boxing gold medal
winner. Good stop there on the way to or from Three Monkeys in
Marandellas (Marondera) for lunch. (Now a religious institute.)
Glen Lorne's local was the festive Highlands Park, run first of all by
the Nicholls family and then by ex-Kenya big game hunter Toby Royston.
Great dinner dances, lovely Sunday lunches, cream teas in the garden.
Down the road at Chisipete Shopping Centre was The Howf of Chisholm,
which was super
The Spaniards, Marlborough (ex-Quorn) served incredibly good food,
except for the soup, which was: always watery, insipid and costly. .
You queued and often cleared the table yourself. The food was delicious
and you either brought your own wine or bought rotgut Barolo.Guido was
deaf and when you came to pay he asked what you had and worked it out
in his head. When he retired to the mother country, a redhead Italian
bombshell bought the business and never looked back, until the Aussie
Tax Squad arrived. By that time she had opened Sandro's in Kingsway.
There's not been another Harare establishment like Sandro's. Starting
as a private club, it retained club land ambience till the end. Five
stars cooking or basic bar lunch often polished cabarets; journalists
and businessmen rubbed shoulders with cabinet ministers.
Sardinian Sandro also ran Eros: fine Mediterranean food and friendly
bar and Sandrock's, for back-packers. Close by was Taco's with punters
Chalet as a suitcase bomb exploded at Woolworth's nearby with many
fatalities? Regulars helped survivors. (Barbours was the real target.)
On quieter Chalet days, great juicy joints were trundled in at lunch;
patrons sliced their own for 50c with pickles, mustard, horseradish
chips and rolls.
The city's best pies were served in a motor sport-theme cocktail bar.
There was a civilised snooker room (not a crummy pool hall.) It became
a motor parts store, then a Spar.
Park Lane (now GMB HQ) the Kaya Nyama steakhouse was its printed "Doggy
bags" as the steaks were so enormous. The Clovagalix, on Fife Avenue,
fire once too often, becoming Cafe Med, Borrowdale. Caruso's on
4th/Samora was a great Chips d'Oliviera club-cum Portuguese
As Vila Peri, it moved to 3rd/Baines where the usually grubby Pointe is
now. Next-door was Fat Mama's, previously Spago's. Now called Mama
Mia's it thrives at Newlands.
The Cellar, Marimba Park was tops with journos and the printing trade,
serving wonderful whisky prawns, real rosti; the upstairs bar often
seemed the centre of the universe.
Kamfinsa's Bizarre Bar (later IT, previously Buster's, The Cockpit,
etc) was hugely popular with yuppies, briefly with buppies; once a
licence to print money. New owners cut corners. Now it's a swimming
pool sundries shop. Meikles closed The Mirabelle, The Causerie,
Flagstaff and Captain's Cabin, Bagatelle and La Chandelle. Monomotapa
lost 1001 Horsemen and Bali Hai, but gained La Francais from Avondale.
When everywhere else closed, you could get ABFs at Al's Place near the
Kopje. Probably unlicensed: whether you ordered whisky, brandy or rum
it came from one bottle; gin, cane, vodka, white rum another.
High -Chaparral (ex-Nick's Bar), Avondale opened all hours: a good
greasy spoon where coffee and steak rolls helped avoid the worst
"mornings after", especially after Le Matelot (ex-Lighthouse), died a
death. Aphrodite, Strathaven, was a superb Greek restaurant; Demi's
near State Lotteries closed due to commuter omnibuses' anarchistic
parking. The original owners set up Tavern Bacchus, near Reps, which
then became the Manchurian.
Up the street, Copacabana served wonderful Portuguese food, having
previously been a great Chinese (White Lotus?).
Himalaya, nearby, did colossal searing noon curries at minimal cost but
was avoided after dusk. Rosedale's/Rose Bowl/Rose & Crown in Hatfield
was a superb Sunday lunch venue with live entertainment.
One of the best seafood platters you could ever eat was at the
Kentucky, also in Hatfield. When another outfit bought the place,
proposing to shut it, locals raised a widely supported petition in
protest. Courts ruled in favour of the petitioners but it's closed
Jameson's Tiffany's re-opened after many years On a positive note
there's a flurry of recently opened ethnic restaurants, tea and sadza,
coffee shops and lodges; but sadly, few seem to have the character or
characters in which the closed establishments were so rich, but time