By Michell Svesve (Ndeipi Magazine)
Summer is here with Jacaranda’s in full bloom, a time of celebrations and activity that has Harare buzzing. With the easing of the lockdown more social events are taking place including breakfast, lunch, and coffee dates to catch up with family and friends. People are always on the lookout for a new dining experience. The Ndeipi team had the opportunity to visit The Bottom Drawer Tea Garden, located a few minutes drive from the Belgravia shopping centre.
Back in the 19th Century, in the United States, the bottom drawer referred to a chest or box in which young ladies would keep their linen and silverware before getting married. It is from this concept that Sarah and Bridget, two inseparable sisters, decided to start a bridal listing company, where different engaged couples would come to discuss and select wedding favours for their guests from the Bridal Shop. Upon noticing that the husbands-to-be simply accompanied their partners who took charge of the bridal meetings (understandably so!), Sarah and Bridget thought of starting a tea garden where the men could go, sit and have a coffee as they waited. Years later, this country-style garden has matured and blossomed into The Bottom Drawer Tea Garden- an eating-out spot that offers hearty, light meals for both sit-ins and takeaways.
We had the pleasure of meeting Sarah and Bridget for a light lunch in the tea garden. The garden was astir with movement and chitter-chatter and birds chirping away. Amidst the excitement and liveliness, we could hear the silverware clinking from all directions as the guests enjoyed their aromatic and mouth-watering meals. The intimate outdoor tables were covered in striking botanical covers that complemented the delicate and warm pigmented flowers surrounding the outdoor space. The staff, together with Sarah and Bridget, were always on the move making sure that all of their guests were comfortable and happy with their orders. As the day progressed, with the sun brighter and the temperature hotter, the garden caretakers were on standby to assist the guests by moving their tables into the shade and adjusting their parasols.
The Bottom Drawer offers an array of light meals, ranging from children’s meals, breakfast, tea-time treats, desserts to vegetarian options. Sarah and Bridget have created a menu that offers nutritious and healthy meal options in a garden setting, allowing you the opportunity to refresh and take a break while having your meal. Of their main items, we had the chicken and mushroom pot pie as well as the bacon and avocado sandwich, which both came with a complimentary salad on the side, topped with their famous homemade dressing. The chicken and mushroom pot pie had the most delicious filling which was both creamy and enclosed with a buttery-soft, flaky pie crust, which was very well made. The bacon and avocado sandwich was made with the finest selection of their tender bread, laced with different seasonings with the garlic standing out above the rest. The finely chopped avocado was well balanced on top of the bread as was the crispy bacon.
With the weather warming up, cool refreshing drinks are a go-to with a wide selection on offer from iced coffees, freshly squeezed juices, healthy smoothies, and our ultimate summer sipper favourite, lemonade. Made with love from fresh organic lemons locally sourced. With a drive to offer fresh hearty meals, The Bottom Drawer grows their vegetables in a garden just behind the dining area. They also receive a daily delivery of fresh vegetables and fruits to use in their meals and salads, complementing what they grow. The cooks in the kitchen work hard to make meals straight from the orders received ensuring their guests have their meals warm and fresh. The meals are delivered promptly and, the waitresses enjoy interacting with the guests to get any feedback they can on the food delivered from the kitchen.
Drawing inspiration from the different traditions and experiences they have had from their travel expeditions around the world, the sisters have morphed the tea garden into an enchanting complex, that not only attracts food lovers but also offers other amenities. As soon as you step into the reception area, you are welcomed by lovely fragrances coming from a range of Africology Skincare and Spa creams and serums that they sell, imported from South Africa. They also sell a selection of ceramic products, including cups, plates, and mugs, that would work perfectly as gifts. If you are looking for tasteful accessories to spruce up your interior or wardrobe, kindly visit their shop and purchase yourself some goodies. An eyeshot away, tucked in the garden corner, is a newly opened Hair Salon. All of the services mentioned above contribute to the pleasurable Bottom Drawer experience.
Sarah and Bridget started the tea garden with no experience at all in regards to the food industry. They have endured all the economic setbacks for over 15 years and have managed to keep the family business afloat. Their shared passion for people and food has motivated them to keep growing the tea garden into a safe space where people can come to converse and eat nourishing meals. If looking for a quiet and private place to meet up with family and friends or business partners, I recommend lunch at The Bottom Drawer.
Images- Bottom Drawer
Originally published in the 119th Ndeipi Magazine