Gava’s restaurant in Belgravia Sports Club at the top end of Upper East Road, has become so popular that at lunchtime tents are erected over large numbers of outside tables in the garden to accommodate the vast numbers of hungry clientele. Forewarned about the crowds and unable to take an early lunch break, we arrived at 1.45 pm on a Thursday hoping that the crowds would have subsided. Mistake! The garden was still packed, likewise the verandah tables and the inside dining room. We managed to find a table in the bar – not ideal as any attempt at conversation was made impossible by a television thumping out dance music. But we were able to escape to another part of the restaurant before the food arrived – and nobody else in the bar seemed disturbed out of their fixed gazes at the gyrating pelvic thrusts on the screen.
The main part of the menu is stews and they are simple, honest, tasty and reasonably priced from $3 for a veggie stew to $9 for oxtail or $10 for a sampler of three of your choice. I chose roadrunner chicken and my partner went for the beef. It took some time for our waitress to let us know that the roadrunner had lived up to its name and run out. Oxtail was my next choice – which had also finished. Hanga I ventured? Not available today. Scrolling down the options I arrived at goat. I have in the past struggled with tough and unpleasantly overpowering goat meat. What was served at Gava’s has restored my faith in the animal. This was tasty soft tender meat falling off the bone in a delicious gravy. Highly recommended. The beef was good if not outstanding – made special by the accompanying peanut butter rice. All stews are served with sadza, beans and greens – and for $1 extra you can have peanut butter rice or sorghum instead of sadza. The greens were cooked to perfection. I cannot blame the restaurant for running out of my first choices. We were late and the place is so popular that various dishes are bound to run out. So if you fancy a plate of oxtail or chicken stew, be sure to arrive early.
There are also grills available – boring old chicken and chips, chicken a bit on the dry side but decent chips. There are also a number of daily specials. We tried the deep fried bream ($10) which was cooked to within an inch of its endurance and was dry, chewy and disappointing. On return visits I’ll be sticking to the stews.
Gava’s is licensed and offers the usual selection of beers, spirits and soft drinks. We didn’t ask for the wine list as it is not that sort of dining experience, but we washed our hearty lunch down with a pleasant home-made lemonade.
There are no starters and no puds on offer. This is a one-good-plate-of-food experience with no frills, no pretensions and no absurd price tags. Four people eating the most expensive dishes might pay $50 – but sticking to the chicken, beef or goat stews the bill will be nearer to $30. The service was a bit slow on the day we were there, but we were told that there has recently been a massive staff change and some were inexperienced. Nevertheless everyone was very friendly and welcoming.
Gava’s is open in the evening, but its main service is lunchtime. Well worth a visit.