HomeStandard PeoplePaula’s Place is new but already very popular

Paula’s Place is new but already very popular

Finding it fully booked on Friday night, we waited until Saturday to sample their Portuguese speciality fare.  Parking feels a little bit exposed out on the edge of Sam’ Drag with an endless stream of cars tearing down the dark potholed main road.

The front façade cries out for a few decorated tiles mingled with the white ones to make the entrance way look less like a public lavatory and more authentically Portuguese! The huge white corrugated iron front that has been tagged onto the front of a suburban house has more the look of a warehouse than a restaurant, and the rather cavernous interior with breezeblock walls at either end, does not make for intimate dining — though to be fair, neither does it intend to, this place has more of a relaxed family feel to it. Massive wooden figures with huge protruding lips make up the main part of the décor and look more Mexican/Afro than Portuguese. Lack of other defining decorative motif, leaves the restaurant without a cohesive theme to pull it all together, from the décor perspective.

The attentiveness of the waiters and the discovery of a selection of friends, made us feel warm and welcome, and our waiter Rickie speedily delivered drinks and took our orders.

Surveying the three quarters full restaurant, I spotted a number of Portuguese diners which lifted my spirits still further. Bread, chunky garlic sauce and chicken gravy followed with the same speed, and we tucked in, making sure no one would want to get too close for the rest of the week! 
Our starters arrived, and as is the norm in our house, everyone has a taste of everyone else’s order, to broaden the experience of the meal. Sadly, the spring rolls were still cold in the centre, the slices of chourico had been fried and were very oily, and the soup was a little bland once the chourico had been consumed. Still, a touch of garlic sauce and chicken gravy gave it more bite.

The main courses looked more promising with the combo of a quarter chicken and four large prawns winning hands down. The main prawn dish had six prawns — rather scant at US$22, but the half chicken was very moist and had a lovely smoky flavour, and this is of course, their famed speciality. The table salad had some nice feta chunks and a few black olives but was otherwise dull and the dressing overly vinegary — too sharp and not enough real flavour.

A quick visit to the loos revealed a sign I had never encountered before. “Curtaining and other bathroom décor are not free samples. Leave them alone.” Maybe that explained the lack of more extensive decorating material — had it all been nicked? The bathrooms were very clean and shiny, however!

Our first two choices for the puddings were not available, so we opted for the lemon cheese cake, chocolate mousse. The mousse did not fulfil its promise, nor the cheese cake, but the ice-cream and chocolate sauce was a winner, and a generous helping.
The service is very good and earned them top points on the score sheet, pushing them to a four plate rating, and the place is very clean and shiny.  

4 Plates
Expect to spend $35 to $35 per head
314 Samora Machel Avenue, Harare.

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