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Spotlight on the Deluxe Finalists

Next weekend will see the last awards ceremony for Zimbabwe on a Plate (Zoap) and Zimbabwe in a Glass.

by Rosie Mitchell

A joint ceremony for both 2012 and 2013, this is always an enjoyable occasion, but it will be a sad one too, as it marks the end of an era.

This competition has run for a decade — eight years as Zim on a Plate, and another two as The Cheeseman’s Restaurant of the Year Competition.

This double page spread in The Standard every week of the year has become an institution and, as has been reported to us countless times over the years, many people who enjoy dining out regularly, grab their Standard and turn straight here, to see who has been reviewed, and how they have done — so it will be sorely missed.

We who have been involved in running the competition will miss it too — it has become very much a part of our daily lives, year round, and we cannot eat out, without scrutinising every detail and guessing what Plate Rating would be likely to apply, were we actually reviewing the establishment!

The Finalist Lists published here are, as ever, interesting. In the early days of Zoap, there was a list of “usual suspects” that tended to repeat the following year, as these were the restaurants that truly “wowed” the reviewers and met such exacting standard that they easily earned Five Plates (or, 90% and over, of possible marks available to them on this entry category’s score sheet) via their scores, and then managed to retain those plates.

This can still be said of some — but certainly not all — whom you find listed here today. As elaborated upon last week, many Five Plate rated establishments have over the years from time to time dropped a little to Four Plates —still very good, but, being perfectionists, often to their great dismay — and this includes several multi-award winning restaurants.

In fact, rather sadly, a very small number of entrants have over these eight years actually withdrawn from the competition entirely, following a drop from 5 to 4 plates! Sadly, because they were very good contenders for awards, and those many others, in a similar position, who simply carried on regardless, went on to win awards in the years that followed.

Taking a closer look at our Deluxe 2012 and 2013 Finalists, it can be seen that in this highly competitive entry category, many of the “usual suspects”, indeed we find!

The Boma at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge has made its way onto this list every single year since Zoap launched — a very fine achievement. This is one of a handful of entrants which strictly speaking does not exactly slot into any of the available entry categories, and hence had to settle upon one for itself, and so, chose Deluxe.

It might just as easily have chosen Speciality, Family or Deluxe Family and would still have been close to fitting the definition.

What The Boma offers above all else is a unique, memorable experience for the diners, many of whom are visitors to this country who have come to see the Victoria Falls. The Boma has continued annually to do this with excellence, in every area, and accordingly, has won the Award of Excellence three times, and the Most Imaginative Dining Experience, three times — and has been an award winner every single year since Zoap was launched.

The Belgian-French luxury restaurant L’ Ô de Vie in Newlands was a newcomer to both the trade and the competition in 2012, and immediately wowed one of our reviewers enough to win Five Plates —a fine achievement indeed, which placed it on our 2012 Finalists list.

Sadly, this restaurant has closed during 2013, and having not so far re-opened, we were not able to review it a second time.

Inn on Rupurara in Juliasdale has been a consistently Five Plate Rated Restaurant, and hence Award Finalist, ever since 2007, and in 2011, won the Award of Excellence.

Victoria 22, one of Harare’s favourite and longest-standing luxury restaurants, is another restaurant that has featured on the Finalist list with a Five Plate Rating for 6 years — an excellent achievement — and narrowly missed winning Deluxe Restaurant of the Year in 2009, in which year it was ‘Highly Commended’ by the judges.

La Fontaine in the Meikles Hotel Harare, has likewise attained a very commendable Five Plate rating for six years.

The Palm at the Ilala Lodge in Victoria Falls, entered the competition in 2010, has attained a five Plate Rating every year since, and won Deluxe Restaurant of the Year in 2011.

The Livingstone Room in the Victoria Falls Hotel, also entered in 2010, and won the Award that year. Another firm favourite in Harare, Amanzi, is a Finalist for the fourth time in 2013.

Relative newcomer Emmanuel’s, at the Bronte Hotel, entered in 2011, and is Finalist for a second time in 2013. The Inglenook at the Churchill Arms Bulawayo is a Finalist for the second time for 2013, while the New Orleans at Banff Lodge in Bulawayo, is a Finalist in 2013 for the fifth time.

Hearty congratulations to all of these very fine restaurants for their achievements over the years and for making it onto the Finalist List for Deluxe Restaurant of the Year for either 2012, or 2013, or both. Whilst not everyone can be a winner, this in itself is a very high accolade indeed!

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