I had my first Maputo breakfast at Sal e Pimenta (Salt and Pepper) Restaurant, located at the front of Afrin Prestige Hotel on Maputo’s busy Rue Marques de Pombal.
The area is home to a large informal sidewalk market where you can buy fruit, fresh fish and more. It’s also the site of a new upscale shopping center.
Because Sal e Pimenta is close to the street, it affords great people watching. Women hurried past my window draped in brightly colored capulana — every Mozambican woman has these sarongs, a local told me — with magnificent head scarves and huge boxes balanced expertly on their heads.
There was good people watching inside the restaurant too. Several hunky men dressed in military uniforms were eating breakfast in the restaurant and wondering around in the hotel lobby. It was a bit intimidating, to tell you the truth — these guys were big — and put a bit of a chill on the restaurant staff, with the effect of paralyzing them. The staff fought through the chill, though, and service was good. An upcoming election was about to happen in Mozambique the following week. I attributed the perceived tensions to that.
The breakfast buffet included an array of breads, rolls and pastries in small sizes. Mozambicans know how to do bread. One of the rolls, lightly dusted with sugar, was a slightly sweet and scrumptious when spread with butter. Next I tried a mini scone about the size of a silver dollar with butter and apricot jam. It went really well with guava juice and mango juice. Just a regular slice of wheat toast from the buffet was delicious too.
In the hot buffet area, the stuffed eggplant caught my eye. I tried it because I was curious: how could a thin slice of eggplant — about a third of an inch thick — be stuffed? It was. When I sliced into one, the eggplant had been layered with ham and then fried in batter — delicious.
Also part of the hot buffet, the roast tomato tasted like it had been splashed with something alcoholic — it was fantastic. Next to all this flavor, the scrambled eggs were appropriately bland.
Meat was not the strong point in this buffet. Breads ruled.
Here are some other interesting features in the breakfast buffet: baked beans, mushrooms and onions, and chicken gizzards, a Mozambican favorite.
The service at Sal e Pimenta was was good, the coffee, OK.