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Fluffy pancakes with popped amaranth seeds at Coffee @The Hub in Chisipite.

THE invention of the wheel goes back to the stone age, when a canny workman fashioned a solid wooden disk to be used as a potter’s wheel. Evolving for use in the automotive industry, the wheel now has a central part known as the hub. While a functioning hub keeps a car running smoothly, focal points and centres of activity, also known as hubs, are attracting people to a variety of activities all around Harare.

Burger and chips at Coffee @ The Hub in n Chisipite.

Moto Republik, a new creative hub, is set to open next month in Harare. Sam Monro, the founder of Moto Republik, says this exciting space with high speed internet will give artists, creative entrepreneurs and journalists a place to meet, work and exchange ideas. It will also have a cafe to provide the sustenance and relaxation workers require to stimulate their creative processes.

On another level, Impact Hub Harare, based in Baines Avenue, is part of a global network around the world. Describing itself as an ‘innovation lab’, it aims to shape local communities in positive ways, including raising awareness for neglected tropical diseases such as bilharzia and river blindness. A birth certificate acquisition project run by Impact Hub in Bulawayo has helped numerous under-privileged individuals have the means to take control of their lives.

Focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, the Zimbabwe government has opened six innovation hubs at state universities around the country. Encouraging innovation and technical advances, the latest hub was recently opened at UZ. Given time, the number of Zimbabwean experts in robotics, AI, nanotechnology, 5G and 3D can only increase.

Just off busy Hindhead Road in Chisipite is The Hub, a small collection of busy enterprises in an attractive setting, shaded by msasa trees. Coffee @ the Hub, a newly-opened coffee shop looking onto a green lawn overhung by purple Jacarandas and flowering shrubs, is owned and managed by Delmarie, who in a previous life, worked for a coal merchant. Delighted with her new occupation, Delmarie greeted and chatted to the many patrons arriving for lunch on a busy Saturday afternoon last week.

Chef Donni, aka Donovan Layton, is the newly-appointed chef. After graduating from The Culinary Arts Academy in Harare, Chef Donni gained experience in restaurants in Montecasino in Johannesburg. Back in Harare, he made use of his skills in Cordon Bleu cookery during a stint at Emmanuels fine dining restaurant at The Bronte Hotel. After two years as resident chef for the American Ambassador, it was time for a change, and he moved to the small but busy kitchen at Coffee @ The Hub.

Beef Burger with chips ($60), chosen from a menu of light meals, looked the real deal. A nice-sized beef pattie inside a large, fresh bun, was garnished with bacon, caramelized onion and melted cheese, and layered with lettuce and tomato. Looks can be deceiving, and the beef pattie was tough and dense. The addition of a few breadcrumbs or crushed cream crackers, although not included in the traditional patttie mixture, would have created a lighter, more tender texture.

George, who loves burgers in any guise, offered to exchange my burger for his cajun chicken wrap ($46). Although the wrap was slightly doughy, the well-seasoned cajun chicken and fresh, ripe avocado filling was delicious.

There are very few restaurants in Harare capable of serving delicious chips. When I asked Chef Donni why some of the chips served with my burger tasted raw, he explained the difficulty of locally sourcing top quality potatoes. It has been reported that Zimbabwean researchers partnering with Korean scientists at SIRDC have come up with a hybrid seed potato resistant to diseases. The countrywide quality of potato production could be about to improve.

For dessert we shared a plate of Scotch pancakes ($25), prettily garnished with strawberries and blueberries, with a jug of Rosella syrup and a small container of cream on the side. Freshly-made and fluffy, these were garnished with popped amaranth seeds and served with a hot and aromatic cappuccino ($23).

After visiting Coffee @ The Hub, take time to look in on well-stocked Casa Fina for all your fabric and interior decorating requirements, and Sugar and Spice, for Indian spices, tasty delights and fresh vegetables. In addition, a hairdressing salon, a wine merchant, a picture framing gallery, a cake shop and an estate agent make The Hub in Chisipite one of the busiest places to meet. – A Matter of Taste Charlotte Malakoff


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