HomeStandard StyleQueen of Hearts wins hearts and more

Queen of Hearts wins hearts and more

It would seem as if Queen of Hearts has been a dining and social venue in Harare for years and years, but in fact it has been open only a relatively short time. I suppose that what has made it seem so established and entrenched a venue is that it has become such a well-known, busy and popular spot for a great many folk who enjoy dining out, having a coffee or going out to socialise.

Restaurant Review with Epicurean

Prawns and curry make for a great Queen of Hearts luncheon
Prawns and curry make for a great Queen of Hearts luncheon

I went there a week or two ago to enjoy a well-organised and well-attended beer, wine and gin festival and I was reminded of just how much this venue has developed, now a centre of many activities and events and one of the most pleasant and buzziest dining places in Harare.

When we dined this past week, I saw things that were far removed from the simple operation it was when it opened just a few years ago. There are various shops and businesses operating from the property, situated along the very busy Enterprise Road just before the turn-off to Arcturus Road. Within the restaurant, there have also been many developments, among them the bar and pizza area and a refinement to the various seating areas.

Queen of Hearts is described as a café, and operates only during the daytime, with the exception of a popular Friday night pizza-curry-music scene that attracts what looks to me like the entire 25 to 45 community and many of the locally-based diplomatic or non-governmental organisations. It is a place where individuals, groups of friends and business groups get together for a coffee and chat, or go for a meal. It’s very busy and feedback I get from a great many people is positive and warm.

In our lunchtime visit on Tuesday, my guest and I sat on the covered terrace area, but we could easily have chosen the garden or the indoors seating areas. Service was quick and attentive and the cuisine was delightful. While perusing the extensive menu, my guest started with an orchard ninja, a delightful refreshment made of apple and ginger, which she really liked. I had a homemade lemonade and found this both tasty and refreshing.

For her meal, my guest had one of the specials of the day: spicy Mozambique prawns, served with chips and an avocado salad. She loved the dish and found the sauce for the prawns particularly enjoyable — she tasted honey and cream, with a light spicing. I had a dish from the main menu: butter chicken, a mild chicken curry served with rice and naan bread. Very satisfying and a treat for the eye and the tongue.

The gelato section of the menu was too appealing to miss out on, so for desserts we each had a lovely gelato ice cream offering: my guest had one scoop of brownies and cream, while I had two scoops of honeycomb-flavoured ice cream. What a real treat these turned out to be and my honeycomb flavour was one of the most delightful desserts I have ever had.

The menu, as I said, is extensive. Breakfasts and pastries start the list, with items priced between $3 and $10 — the latter for the full English breakfast. Sandwiches and wraps feature next, priced up to $9,50 and one that caught my eye was the roasted Mediterranean vegetables and Danish feta … sounds great. A children’s choice section offers such items as fish fingers and chips, crumbed chicken strips and chips and cheese melts, also with chips.
Other sections include salads, house-style burgers (several appealing combinations on this, priced at $10,50 each and served with chips and onion rings), stove and grill (lunchtime to 4:30pm, offering nachos, quiche, crumbed hake, or rump steak) and tandoori kitchen (several Indian-style dishes, including the butter chicken that I ordered).

The baked foods section featured cookies, brownies, cake, banana bread and cheesecake, while an attachment to the main menu highlights specials, which are changed each week. Also on the menu are a range of fruit juices, a selection of drinks from the bar and smoothies in various flavours. The coffee sections tells guests that the supplier is Truth Coffee of Cape Town, a respected purveyor and a brand unique to Queen of Hearts in Harare, by all accounts. Herbal teas were also highly recommended. The restaurant has its own selection of gelato ice creams and the menu tells us these include organic ingredients with no preservatives, sweeteners or colourants.

On Friday, the only day of the week on which QoH opens in the evening, the food offering between 1pm and 9pm includes a selection of 10 pizza toppings. In the evening, the only offerings are these pizzas and also curries of the day. There is usually an entertainer on duty through the evening and children’s facilities are offered to make it a family night out.

It’s a well-designed and really interesting menu and I think the quality and style of the cuisine are remarkable and very popular with visitors, many of whom have told me they make this their regular Friday night stop. The owners like to host private functions and they also organise a number of special events during the year, the beer, wine and gin festival being the most recent.

The property around the café includes a huge variety of operations, featuring yoga, flowers and home décor, a wine cellar, a spa, learning centre, clothing shops, Curves gym, a hair salon, children’s items’ shop and other outlets. The restaurant-café is open from Monday to Thursday between 7am and 4:30pm (the first hour with coffees only), and on Friday between 1am and 9pm (first hour coffees, 8am to 4:30pm full menu and evenings pizza and curries only). On Saturday it’s open from 8:30am to 11:30am, and it closes on Sunday.

Well worth visiting and a venue that is quietly and efficiently making its mark, Queen of Hearts is at 1 Hurworth Road, corner Enterprise Road in Highlands and they can be found on Facebook. Call 0771 929 914 for enquiries and reservations. E-mail thequeenofheartscafe@gmail.com.

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