Experiencing Portuguese Cuisine with a Jasmine Touch

By Naomie Happi – Pokam 

“I want to bring people together. l was brought up knowing that life is about having respect and love for each other and that is what l have tried to create with Tinkabell.” – Jasmine

When Jasmine Shenaz Fonseca first opened her restaurant’s doors in 2011, she named the establishment “Tinkabell” after her grandmother, Tinka. The motive behind this decision was so that the restaurant could live out her late grandmother’s legacy of love and respect.  Tinka, who had a “heart of gold” and “whose door was always open to everyone from all walks of life” raised Jasmine to be the heart-warming person she is today. A few years later, and the restaurant still exemplifies this etiquette culture of welcoming people from all over through its presentably diverse menu that caters to all kinds of taste buds. 

With the restaurant’s first branch in Ardbennie, Harare; Tinkabell is known for offering its guests a Portuguese restaurant experience with a jasmine touch to it. For Jasmine, Tinkabell has always been a family-oriented haven, where she hopes to uplift people’s souls through scrumptious dishes and sweet-sounding music. These two components are ultimately what brands Tinkabell as a suitable place for a family lunch, dining out in the city, and events venue. 

Jasmine attributes her success to the support she continues to receive from her suppliers and clientele. Special acknowledgments go to Sable’s chicken, Seapride, E-sales, BullRed Distribution, Moulder, Cheeseman, Illy’s coffees, and especially Queen of Hearts, for allowing her to join their different market-days when she was still starting up. 

The launch of Tinkabell Ballantyne 

This September, the Ndeipi team was delighted to attend the launch of a new Tinkabell branch in Ballantyne Park. A day filled with delight, high buzz, and the occasionally friendly cameraman strategically positioned at different angles, ready to capture every moment this eventful afternoon had to offer.

Guests, upon arrival were greeted with a celebratory Gin and Tonic which helped perpetuate the ongoing mingling session that took place outside the restaurant. The ceremony commenced with a short and sweet introduction of Tinkabell by the voluble master of ceremony – Stan Higgins, who then graciously handed over the floor to the Ambassador of Portugal, Miguel de Mascarenhas Calheiros Velozo, for a speech accompanied by his well-wishes for the restaurant’s success. The ribbon-cutting immediately followed and the restaurant’s doors were swung open, metaphorically transporting each guest into an impressive and welcoming atmosphere.

The ceremony was followed by a buffet lunch which showcased all of the appetising dishes Tinkabell has to offer. There was no doubt that the talk of the show was the peri peri chicken. Apart from it being filled with strong concentrated flavours, the chicken was well cooked, and sharp with intense aromas that had you going back for more. On the specials was a creamy mac and cheese, fried rice, salads and tantalising desserts, the chocolate cake was an absolute favourite! 

The restaurant is meticulously divided into three components; – the dining section, the children’s play area, and Jasmine’s deli. All three units are deliberately decorated with partially glazed clay pots and molded pillars that incorporate hints of Jasmine’s middle eastern background.

“The clay pots remind me of calabashes used in the Arabian culture and the pillars represent strength to me” – Jasmine.

Sensibly arrayed with wooden furniture the dining area exudes a lively sensation. Glass windows are fitted along the edge of the dining hall, walking through this hall moves you into a serene atmosphere. This section of the restaurant is characterised by hanging lamp bulbs, charming garden benches and an open space for some live music. 

As entertainment for the day, the melodious band; rhythm, and blues performed live making our whole experience even more satisfying. As the day came to an end, the laughter quieted down and the restaurant’s doors were shut again. A pleasant way to end a well spent afternoon. 

Tinkabell Ballantyne will be all buffed and polished again for its regular opening times on Tuesday and Thursday from 8 am to 5.30 pm, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday for dinners and on Sunday for breakfast and lunch. The restaurant is located along Welburn Drive within Ballantyne square center. Its reputation is evident through its devoted customers who Jasmine says have now become like family. Make sure to swing by and maybe after one or two visits, you too can become part of the family. 

Images Justin T Samufonda

Originally published in the 7th Ndeipi Magazine

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