A table for two? Join the queue in Zimbabwe
On the road
A restaurant culture is not the first thing that crosses your mind when contemplating a visit to Zimbabwe.
Not too long ago, eating out was a rare luxury: an average restaurant meal in an upmarket eatery was Z$900 billion per person (at least half the average middle-class worker's monthly salary), while a bottle of just-about-palatable Mukuyu wine (the only vineyard in Zimbabwe), was a little short of a trillion dollars. Even leaving a Z$10 million note as a tip was not out of the ordinary.
Added to that, most of the menu was unavailable due to food shortages. When ordering, despite what was printed on the faded menu, it was customary for the waiter to run through a "specials list" – roughly pencilled on a bit of scrap paper found in the kitchen somewhere – which indicated to the diner what food could actually be rustled up.
Since the dollarisation of the terminally-ill and now defunct Zimbabwean currency in late 2009 and with the growing economic stability that is sweeping the country, people are again enjoying the pleasure of eating out – albeit largely in the country's wealthier communities. Cafés and restaurants have mushroomed, particularly in Harare, which now has more than 100 European-style restaurants, many with wireless internet. These have lengthy menus and those without a booking can often be seen on the veranda twiddling their thumbs while waiting for a table.
Today, a latte costs no more than US$3, and a steak with a few prawns imported from Mozambique, a mere US$16. Wine lovers can choose a bottle of Australian Hollick Cabernet Sauvignon, and always a full complement of excellent South African wines from across the border.
While once portions were small and expensive, and regular power cuts often meant establishments had to close at times when they were most likely to attract custom, the restaurant scene in Zimbabwe is now burgeoning. So much so that eatout.co.zw, Zimbabwe's online restaurant booking website, has just celebrated its second anniversary. It lists more than 300 restaurants, along with their menus, wine lists, reviews and photographs. Since its inception in 2010, it claims to have processed more than 12,000 bookings on behalf of Zimbabwe's new wave of diners.
Footprint's 'Zimbabwe Handbook' is available now (£14.99)
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 4 Woolwich murder: They killed, then they performed - these men should be starved of our attention
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.