New gastronomic marvel unveiled in Stone Town

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In the heart of Zanzibar’s ancient city is a new boutique hotel that is already being feted as a gastronomic marvel enticing the palates of foreign travellers and African weekenders alike.

The Neela Boutique Hotel Stone Town features two outlets– the Breadfruit Restaurant & Café and Views Rooftop Bar & Lounge. Hotel developers Steve and Raju Shaulis together with executive chef Lance Louise have created an experience encapsulating the romance and vibrant flavours of the island’s famous cultural hub.

The 14-room Neela Boutique Hotel Stone Town opened to great fanfare in September, providing families with a beautiful location to spend quality time together while enjoying the freshest seasonal food in the natural beauty of Zanzibar.

With breakfast and all-day dining menus that season Zanzibar’s rich culinary heritage with cosmopolitan flair, the establishments cater to every taste and offer both meat and vegetarian options.

Breadfruit eatery

The signature Breadfruit eatery, arising from the vision of internationally renowned interior designer Nelly Levin, offers visitors a tranquil courtyard setting and the city’s historic architecture where they can enjoy exquisite dining and expertly crafted coffee prepared by world-class baristas.

Its strong focus on quality, sustainability and authenticity makes it the perfect destination for an unforgettable dining experience.

Among Breadfruit’s standout dishes is Zanzibar classic Zanzicuterie, which comprises cold smoked marlin and tuna, kimchi, cashew nut tapenade, pickled sardines, pickled feta, labneh, mango confit and fermented papaya.

A prized large-plate item, particularly among weekenders from the Tanzanian mainland and Kenya, is Swahili Seafood Curry, where the ingredients range from songoro and squid to toasted local spices and coconut milk.

Pweza Please, local octopus served with braised chickpeas and white beans, lemon aioli and bok choi, and Bing Bing Baby, a portion of bing bread and truffled honey butter, sesame chilli crunch, smoked eggplant and pinenut with whipped ricotta, are also not to be missed.

Unwinding in style

Views Rooftop Bar and the Parlour Lounge, meanwhile, are perfect for unwinding with delicious cocktails and access to the full BreadFruit Menu while soaking up the atmosphere that is so unique to Stone Town as a destination.

The rooftop setting is a wonderland of contemporary décor, superb service and romance and is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the ancient city below. Cool live music and a gentle breeze offer a state of complete relaxation.

Light but out-of-this-world small-plate dishes like Salt and Pepper Squid, noted for its red chili teriyaki seasoning, Prawn Bao Bun (togarashi mayo, pickled onion and furukake) and Popcorn Pweza (slivers of octopus with seaweed mayo and lemon) will tantalise any tastebuds.

The Parlour Lounge is tailor-made exclusively for hotel guests wanting to enjoy a morning coffee, light bite or afternoon drink as they plan their day or unwind after a day exploring Stone Town.

A culinary powerhouse

Chef Lance brings to The Neela Boutique Hotel Stone Town a remarkable culinary arts background.

The 32-year-old South African, who credits his mother and the late pastry master Aaron James Maree for his passion for cooking, has worked for East Africa’s largest property management group overseeing international brands like Kempinski, Hemmingways, Marriott, and Acacia Premier, including the popular Nairobi Street Kitchen.

He also served as executive chef to His Excellency Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, of the Qatari Royal Family, a role that saw him lead kitchens in palatial homes and cater at royal events.

Other career highlights include brief stints with culinary luminaries Gordon Ramsay, Ferran Adria and Dave Chang.

As evidenced by the hotel menus, Chef Lance’s ethos is to procure local produce and ingredients to empower communities, and turn jobs into exciting careers.

“My inspiration comes from the resourcefulness of local farmers, the hunger of the individuals I mentor, and the stunning locations I’ve worked in, spanning from Dubai to London,” he says.

“In my professional life, I’ve learnt that basic cooking skills are a virtue, and I believe they should be taught as fundamental life skills.”

More to come

Steve and Raju, who have undertaken major projects across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, are developing another oceanside boutique hotel in Zanzibar scheduled to open in 2024.

This will further cement The Neela Collection as the luxury boutique hotel group of choice in Zanzibar’s vibrant cultural heart.

Each of the properties in the collection, either in restored landmark heritage buildings or architecturally designed and built properties using local craftsmanship and international experts, have their distinct personalities rooted in and authentic to their location.

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