If you are a vegetarian, you may just want to not read this. If you are a meatatarian, I hope you enjoy!
Two weeks ago, while I was on my medical leave in Nairobi (I am back home in Mombasa now), a fellow Peace Corps volunteer had his birthday and to celebrate we all went out to Carnivore. Carnivore is rated as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world (used to actually be in the top 10 apparently), and as its name suggests, is a very meat-oriented restaurant. Being in Kenya, where the national dish is effectively roast meat (nyama choma), the meat served at Carnivore is just that: roasted to roasty, roastacular, deliciousness.
When one thinks of a top 50 restaurant, one might assume such nice things as white table-cloths, black tie waiters and waitresses, and bottles of bubbly water on the table. How dare you have preconceptions! This is Kenya (said with a roar)! Instead, at Carnivore you sit at large wooden tables, with servers walking around in garish zebra-print aprons, and people singing happy birthday songs a la Applebees or TGI Fridays. Apparently, “mature, quiet atmosphere,” is not one of the top 50 criteria.
Which is fine by me. Because where Carnivore shines is in the meat, and its wide selection of different meats to be exact. Back in the old days, before humans cared about animals and simply enjoyed eating them, you could get everything from zebra to giraffe to lion even, all of it roasted to perfection and served in endless quantity. Sadly not anymore, but still the selection was good. My meal consisted of: roast beef, turkey, chicken wings, chicken breast, crocodile, pork ribs, roast lamb, lamb chops, ostritch-meat meat-balls (written to be as unambiguous as possible), and pork sausages. Each was roasted and seasoned or glazed appropriately and each was divine.
The meal is served Brazillian BBQ style (if I understand that style correctly). You have a little flag that you keep up when you want the carvers to bring you more meat. You can ask for as much per carving as you like, all for a flat fee (including a dessert and bread and soup, but not drinks). Once you have your meat, feel free to sauce it with the appropriate sauces provided in a spin-server on every table. Confused about which sauce to use, ask the carver for his or her recommendation. Chow down. Now, in reality we had to bug the carvers for more food towards the end, when normal people would be full. Us, being far from normal, meat-starved volunteers, kept stuffing our faces and politely but insistently asking for more meat because as anyone could see, our flag was up.
I left the meal quite happy, albeit with a significantly lighter wallet. The roasted regulars (beef, chicken, turkey, pork) were far above any choma I could get on the street. The chicken wing glaze must have been laced with some addictive additive because it was impossible to stop eating them. The crocodile was… interesting. It had a slightly fishy taste to it and each piece also seemed to have tough-muscle or tendon pieces or something. The taste was good, the texture was fine, but these tough bits were a bit off-putting. The ostritch-meat meat-balls were amazing, slightly spiced, and never enough. Finally, the lamb chops were just what I needed to put me in a good mood, even served with a homemade mint jelly!
Lesson learned: don’t go to Carnivore for the atmosphere or for a nice, quiet, adult night out. Go for the meat.
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