Anyone who drives past Arundel shopping centre on Quorn Avenue has probably noticed Café Veldemeers on the opposite side of the road. It is generally teeming with customers for breakfast, mid-morning coffee (or afternoon tea), pastries and snacks. It offers a varied lunch menu to suit most tastes with a pleasing selection of salads, quiches, soups, fish dishes – but burgers and steak, and chips too, if that is what tickles your fancy.
Veldemeers is the Belgian chocolate company, whose highly successful business selling handmade chocolates, was first opened in Doon Estate. They now have other outlets – including one in Arundel shopping centre. Some time towards the end of last year they opened the Café – under the supervision of Kerry Wallace who ran the much acclaimed Shop Café in Doon Estate (since relocated to Amanzi) for donkeys’ years. Clever move, Veldemeers! However, it is Kerry’s son Leeroy Wallace who is heading up the team at Veldemeers, and grabbing the attention Harare’s restaurant lovers.
Knowing of the breakfast, lunchtime and all-day snack success of the new cafe, Mystery Eater and friends chose to test the evening service. We went on a Friday and although it was certainly not anything like as full as it is during the day, there were other diners and the ambiance was pleasantly soothing for an enjoyable night out.
The menu is a little limited – a steak, a fish, a chicken and a couple of pasta options – but there is also a selection of mezze-type dishes. Anyway, I am always encouraged by a slim menu – the chances are that the food will be freshly cooked and with great care. And to be fair, a brand new evening menu is apparently being launched in the last week of January.
Limited or not, the quality of the food served is what counts. Two of us chose the fish, tilapia with smoked salmon and prawn sauce. This was, we all agreed, truly delicious. The fish was succulent and the buttery, smoked salmony sauce almost had us licking our plates. To accompany the dish, there is a choice of French fries or “spaghetti” courgette. I took the latter option and it was one of the tastiest courgette dishes I have ever eaten. Julienned, and lightly cooked with a selection of herbs and sprouts, it made the taste buds dance.
The rump steak was disappointing as the medium-rare order arrived overcooked. It was not overcooked enough for us to make a fuss and send it back – though I suspect this was partly because the rest of us were enjoying our food so much that we didn’t want to wait politely for the overcooked steak order to be rectified. The steak-eater won the politeness award that evening.
The “special” was a Belgian beef stew, deeply rich in flavour, served with French fries and home-made mayonnaise. This dish might have been more suitably accompanied by a more bland starch – rice, bulgur or mash. The fries and mayonnaise were very good, but didn’t sit well with such rich gravy.
All dishes were served with a multiple and varied green leaf and avo side salad, made the more interesting by roasted seeds and an exceedingly good dressing. Joy!
For dessert we had a chocolate mousse that was pure silky Belgian chocolate and cream but at the same time managed to be light, fluffy and deliciously decadent. The pancake, served with a choice of fillings, was also good.
A bottle of wine, a couple of other drinks, coffees all round and the bill was $25 a head. A very welcome new addition to the Harare restaurant scene, highly recommended.
Top image: Cafe Veldemeers front view
Images credit: Harry Davies