Before I left on my trip to the Wilderness of Kenya, many colleagues insisted that I MUST go to “The Carnivore.” Well, perhaps the profusion of recommendations shouldn’t have been surprising, given that my love for meat is pretty well known among my friends and acquaintances.
I had heard of The Carnivore long ago from photographer friends, who had raved about the variety of meats served there, including game meat, a menu comprising Zebra, Giraffe and so on. Though deep down I am curious as to how they would’ve tasted, I am really happy that they aren’t serving game meat anymore.
I didn’t have to worry about finding the place or planning a visit, because our tour operator – African Safari Destinations Limited had included a welcome dinner at The Carnivore on Day one. Since we didn’t have anything else to do, we headed out early to the restaurant, and were seated in about 10 minutes at a table facing the pit. The huge barbeque pit is what strikes you first on entering the restaurant. And soon enough you have Charles, with a tray, making the local cocktail, Dawa. Similar to the Mojito or caipirinha, the Dawa is a stiff Vodka poured over ice, lemon halves, honey and sugar. In Swahili, the word means medicine or magic potion, and it is stiff and potent enough to be a “cure-all”! My friend and I had 5 of these cocktails between us, and it cost us about 2800 Shillings (35$).
The staff was very welcoming and helpful. They took the time to explain everything, and advised us on which sauces and accompaniments to use with which meats. These condiments were placed conveniently on the table on a Lazy Susan.. The staff were able to spend so much time guiding us because the restaurant wasn’t full. I noticed that they didn’t spend even a fourth of this time at other tables once the restaurant started to fill up.
There was a variety of meats served, of which I loved the Pork Spare Ribs and the Chicken Legs: they were cooked perfectly and were succulent. The other meats – beef & pork in its other forms were a tad dry or overcooked. The turkey was not so great, and among the exotic meats, I was served Crocodile meat, Ostrich meat (which again was dry and chewy), Ostrich meat balls (all of which you will get in other places as well) and Ox
As for the quality of the food and the accompaniments, I’d rate the place a 3/5, but I do recommend a one-time visit for the experience. For the ambience I’d rate it a 4/5, especially because of the live serving – where the food is carved off the skewers using Masai Swords at your table. But please be forewarned that this has NOTHING to do with local Kenyan Cuisine, which is best had at one of the local restaurants. Ask your driver to help you. I recommend a G&R restaurant in the Business District where you get good grilled meat or curried meat with the local staples like Iriyo or Ugali or Githeri and so on. At the Carnivore, the non-vegetarian meal – which is essentially an all-you-can-eat buffet, costs about 2500 Shillings (30$) and it was about 2000 for the vegetarian meal – which was nothing to write home about (but then if you’re going to be vegetarian at the Carnivore…). My friend is an ovo-lacto vegetarian and chose (in his words) ‘an almost tasteless vegetable bake’. The desserts were also not great shakes, but merely passable.
Bottom line: Go for a one-time experience for bragging rights and to be able to claim and that you’ve eaten Ox Balls. My rating is a firm 3 out of 5!