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Good coffee, great chips and self-help reading for pastors at Connections Cafe.

Grilled beef burger, chips and salad at Connections Cafe.

GLANCE to your left as your commuter hurtles down the Borrowdale Road towards Sam Levy’s Village, Domboshawa and beyond, and you’ll see the sprawling Celebration Centre, set back from the traffic amid peaceful green lawns and palm trees. With its imposing columns and portico the Celebration Centre bears more than a passing resemblance to a Roman temple.

It is in fact a community centre housing a theatre, a school and a vibrant church with an ever-increasing flock of faithful followers. To one side of the building is Connections Cafe, a well-run restaurant that opens every day of the week.

Last Sunday, George and I arrived at Connections Cafe for a late lunch. Church service was over, the car park was virtually empty, and peace and quiet prevailed. We sat at a table on the verandah, shaded by a Leopard tree and cooled by a breeze from the ever-diminishing nearby wetlands. Kimberley, our waitress, greeted us with a winning smile and took our orders for a Pepsi and a ginger ale, served with extra ice and plastic straws. After checking out the large wall-mounted menu board inside, we ordered lunch. Prices were double those currently quoted on Facebook – something to watch out for when you surf the internet in search of somewhere to eat out.

George’s starter of mushroom soup ($7) was a generous serving. I can confirm that it was hot, flavourful and full of fresh mushrooms, as Kimberley brought two soup spoons, guessing I would like a taste. We shared a thick slice of toasted home-made brown bread, served with real butter.

My grilled beef burger ($17) was served with chips and salad. There is an art to frying chips – so often I’m disappointed by flabby white chips, or unevenly cut dark brown chips fried in stale oil. The chef at Connections Cafe (Chef Shiri) has mastered the art, and my chips were delicious. The bun was fresh, and the burger itself was made with good quality beef, and well flavoured, although I would have preferred it without any piccalilli spread. A crisp green salad of lettuce, cucumber, red pepper and carrot was served with a salad dressing on the side.

Connections Cafe at the Celebration Centre.

Sticky pork chops ($18) were rather too sweet and sticky for my taste, but George said they were good, and awarded them a seven out of ten rating.

We had planned to have a coffee and a slice of cake from one of the impressive gateaux on display, Amai’s chocolate cake and carrot cake topping the list. Eventually we abandoned the idea of dessert, and moving inside the cafe to a large and comfortable dark brown sofa, we ordered cappuccinos. Zimbos are taking the drinking of coffee seriously, employing trained baristas to make it just right. My small cappuccino ($4.50) was in reality large. It was also hot, aromatic, and attractively served.

Sweet American pop muzak was playing as we finished our coffee, paid the bill, and strolled off in the direction of an adjoining book shop. The hour for evening service at Celebration Centre was approaching, and more people began to arrive, some to browse among the bibles and self-help books in the book shop. It’s not uncommon in Zimbabwe for business men, entrepreneurs and politicians to become evangelists and pastors, travelling around the country, spreading the word of God. Anyone contemplating a career change in this direction will find a wealth of reading matter at Celebration Centre’s book shop. Dag Heward-Mills’ The Top Ten Mistakes That Pastor’s Make, for instance, will keep you focused. For those not yet committed to Christianity, How to be Born Again and Avoid Hell, may give you pause for thought, while How to Neutralize Curses will be useful to those who just can’t help falling out with difficult people.

Connections Cafe is easy to find, and the parking is safe. Service is prompt, and the wait staff friendly. Seating is comfortable, and high ceilings lend a sense of space and relaxation. While none of the dishes really stood out, I would happily return for a coffee and a slice of cake. And if curiosity gets the better of me, I’ll return to the book shop to buy The Secret Life of Angels, by Ron Rhodes.  – A Matter of Taste with Charlotte Malakoff

Connections Cafe
162 Swan Drive
Borrowdale West
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