Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
IF you are a foodie and you love trying out international cuisine then Selborne Café in Bulawayo is a place that you should take time to visit with friends and loved ones.
Walking into the renovated restaurant situated at the Selborne Hotel, one of Bulawayo’s oldest accommodation facilities, one is greeted by young hip staff.
The restaurant with “A taste of elegance” tagline has been revamped and modernised with black, red and cream as the main colours giving it a very hip, chic and warm feel. It exudes elegance and the first thought that comes to mind is ‘this is a great place to have an intimate dinner with your loved one or take out your whole family’.
Selborne Café has definitely managed to solve the variety challenge that many people who enjoy eating out faced. In a family of five people for example, variety of dishes is key. The elderly may want Chinese while the youthful prefer pizza or a simple burger. Grandparents may prefer to have their traditional cuisine, but getting this under one roof has been a problem. Also, to get specialised meals such as Indian and Chinese, people often had to drive out of the city centre but with Selborne Café, those meals and more are offered under one roof.
For this, Selborne Café is the perfect getaway for foodies in the city. It’s a one stop shop for international dishes as they offer food from Thailand, China, India, continental and local cuisine.
“All we want is for the place to be one for the whole family to feel comfortable and have a great time while enjoying the food,” said the manager Nida Ur Rehman during a visit by Chronicle Showbiz during the week.
He said they had realised that there was no restaurant around the city that catered for people’s varied tastes.
Dishes at Selborne Café are affordable with the most expensive one costing $19 and the cheapest being $5. As part of their family oriented activities, they have included a Sunday brunch from 11AM to 3PM which is one of their signature treats.
The restaurant has a dedicated chef, Riaz Khan, who has a staff complement of 12 in his kitchen.
“We have Chef Khan who has been all over the world sharpening his culinary skills. Originally from Pakistan, he has been to Dubai and India and we are privileged to have him in our kitchen.
“I have so much faith that he can do a great job. Even our customers have been loving the dishes,” said Rehman.
He said they set up the restaurant to give visitors in the city something top class within their reach.
“Look, during events such as the ZITF and Sanganai/Hlanganani Travel Expo and the like people find it hard to get international dishes within their reach.
This restaurant will also serve such people. We anticipate that with this new dispensation and economic drive the President has embarked on, there will be a huge influx of tourists from different countries flocking to Bulawayo,” said Rehman.
And with any dish, the tasting is in the pudding. The chef brought two dishes for the Chronicle Showbiz crew, a Chinese meal which comprised sweet and sour chicken served with garlic rice while the other was a European dish of cheesy crusted stuffed chicken.
Before you delight your taste buds, your nostrils are attacked delicately by a sweet aroma of the dish. What Selborne Café prides itself in is that they want to entice the eyes of their guest with well presented food that tastes equally great.
The sweet and sour chicken was a meal and a half. Enjoyable is the least word that can describe the dish. It had the perfect balance of the sweet and sour with the fried garlic garnish on the rice giving it that zing on your tongue that complemented the sauce and rice well. The dish is basically fried chicken cubes coated with a crispy batter and stir-fried with a mouth-watering sweet and sour sauce.
The restaurant that opens at 9AM and closes at 9PM daily, does not serve pork, but all their other meat dishes (which are mostly chicken and beef) are Halaal.
In future, Rehman said they would open a takeaway food outlet which will be called Illegal to offer fast food dishes with a twist.