One of the perks of this job is being able to try out a new restaurant, enjoy the experience and to thoroughly recommend it to our readers.
The Mustard Seed has been open for a few months as part of a complex of conference facilities, shops and lodge accommodation situated at 27 Ridgeway South, Highlands. It is open daily for breakfast and lunch and also for dinner (except Sunday) if bookings are made in advance.
We visited on a Friday lunchtime – though if I’m honest we were very late for normal lunch service, rocking up as we did past 2 o’clock. Despite this we were made to feel welcome and not at all as if we might be interrupting the staff’s afternoon siesta!
The tables are under cover on the verandah – or under umbrellas in the garden and are tastefully comfortable. The menu immediately stands out as “different”. For starters there are a couple of soup options – a creamy delicious chilled avocado or a roasted sweet potato. Then a chicken liver parfait with an orange salsa, lamb kofta or a roulette of smoked salmon and cucumber. There are also four interesting and unusual salads – “Crisp Indian Yam”, grilled corn with asparagus and mushroom croutons, teriyaki beef strip salad and Thai seafood.
We chose the avo soup and the Thai seafood salad as starters. As noted above, the soup was splendid – our only quibble being the warmed but rather stale breadstick served alongside. The Thai seafood salad comprised finely shredded vegetables and salad ingredients with cashew nuts and a pleasing fish-saucy dressing. The seafood component – allegedly prawn, calamari and tilapia – had also been finely chopped and so although the overall taste was very enjoyable, we missed the seafood textures of a whole prawn or a calamari ring. When this was pointed out to the waiter he immediately produced a side dish of extra whole prawns. Good service!
The mains menu is similarly varied. There is a choice of ten dishes – four of which are vegetarian – and all of which sound appetisingly interesting. Vegetarians are generally ill-served in Zimbabwe so with a lentil cottage pie, a butternut and onion marmalade tart, a mushroom pasta dish and a spinach roulade to chose from – not to mention the salad menu the portions of which are generous enough to double up as mains, Mustard Seed has to be a “go to” destination for veggies. For those who feel they haven’t eaten without a hunk of animal protein, there are also various tasty meat options and one fish dish. There is rib-eye steak, lamb chops, sticky ribs, quail and chicken to chose from.
All these are pretty standard fare, but it is the attention to detail in the accompanying vegetables, salads and sauces which makes them special. For example the steak is served with parsnip chips, peppercorn sauce and greens. The lamb chops with minted spuds and a cranberry jus. The grilled quail was my first choice with “green mash and mushroom sauce`’ but was sadly not available so I went for the chicken kebab which was advertised as being served with a “pillaf” of chickpeas and feta salad. There was certainly no rice involved but the chickpea salad was entirely gratifying and the chicken kebab moist, tender and scrumptious. The portion was generous enough for me to have to ask for a take-away.
My girlfriend chose the citrus bream with squash mash and dill butter and reported full satisfaction. The waiter was at pains to point out that if we wished, we could swap the healthier aspects of the sides (chick peas, squash ) with chips – an offer we declined but which might be preferable to some. The healthy portion of moist fish came with a selection of very al dente vegetables, verging on plain raw – fine for me though others may disagree.
There are also some interesting desserts – Camembert Brûlée, Pear and Blue Cheese cake, Cassata in a chocolate tuile – which we unfortunately had to leave for next time as we were thoroughly full.
Mustard Seed is not licensed but you can take your own bottles for no corkage charge. Meanwhile there are wonderfully healthy fresh fruit/vegetable juices, homemade lemonade and the usual range of soft drinks.
The service was attentive, fast and friendly – but not intrusive – and our overall rating was thoroughly favourable. 2 courses and a drink – $15–$20 a head. There is a new summer menu coming out with cheaper options apparently. The Mustard Seed is well worth a visit.
Image: The chicken kebab – moist, tender and scrumptious!