I’m something of a regular at Café Nush, often grabbing takeaway coffee and a pastry on the way to work, or best of all the smoky beef quiche, fresh from the oven.
I readily vouch for it as a café, their coffee is good, and the bakery pumps out excellence every day. Nush has more than filled the space left by the Italian Bakery, which had a special place in the hearts and routines of businesspeople, socialites and coffee drinkers from all over the city. Sweeping aside sentiment with the broom of fact, I have to say it… I prefer Nush!
Nush has a squeaky clean, modern feel to it, and would be at home in a Joburg mall or London high street. Not in just its decor and lighting, but the bold white crockery and the menu too. It has certainly set itself apart from most in Harare.
They have a diverse menu, though mostly breakfast and lunch oriented. It hits all the right notes for Harare’s diners, with sandwiches, wraps, hamburgers and chicken and chips, but has interesting variations coming out from what must be the owners’ middle Eastern heritage, in particular a section titled ‘Taste of Persia’ which includes kebab offerings.
On the confident and well informed advice of our very friendly waiter, I opted for the bakhtiyari ($14), a mixed beef and chicken kebab. We also ordered the buttered chicken curry ($10), and the mushroom and spinach fettuccini ($8). To warm up our palettes (and because we were ravenous), we started with the vegetable soup ($5) and a chicken Niçoise salad ($7). Nush doesn’t actually have starters on the menu, but we decided to share in order to try healthier options of which there are several, and vegetarians will certainly find something to enjoy as well.
The chicken in the salad was still warm and succulent. It came with olives, butter beans, green beans, egg and lettuce, all dressed in a delicious, piquant dressing. The soup had unusual tangy undertones, but was also delectable and hearty. It came with a huge white roll, baked on site, crispy crust, fluffy inners, just right. All our food was as fresh as could be.
The mains came soon after, and were presented beautifully. My kebab option was fairly unwieldy, with alternating cubes of chicken and beef dangling from a long skewer over saffron rice and roasted veggies. I de-skewered it promptly to stop it going cold and since the restaurant was almost at capacity, I felt self conscious with it swinging in the breeze. The meat had obviously spent a long time marinating, having complex and delicious flavours, and though perhaps a bit dry and overcooked for me, was improved by the tzatziki. I was most impressed by the perfume of the rice and some sweetly tender roasted tomatoes.
The pasta was simple, and well put together – nothing to wax lyrical about, but as good as any I’ve had in Harare and at $8, a very good deal. I usually don’t order dishes that I can cook well myself – bolognaise, stir fries, fish pie, roasts and a few other bits and pieces, but I don’t think I could recreate the richness and balance of that bowl, and would consider it for next time.
Expecting an Indian style curry, the butter-chicken eater at our table was at first perplexed by what he was served with. Again the middle eastern influence and spice combinations were at play. But all in all it was delicious. What emerged from the main courses for me, was that a great deal of thought and care has gone into their menu. Nush management have clearly spent a long time crafting, tasting, and refashioning menu items to achieve a great deal of flavour and poise in all their dishes.
All in all, the prices at Nush are pretty much on par with most eateries in Harare, but the service, presentation and flavours of the food mean that they offer better value. Their competence in delivering a comprehensive hot meal menu AND the café-style patisserie selection will delight any diner in any mood.