Don’t be dismayed by the chunk of bread that accompanies the spinach soup followed by the six vegetarian salads. When the restaurant in question is called Carnivore, getting suspicious of whether one’s in the right place is normal, but that changes soon enough.
It was a warm Wednesday afternoon when I stepped in, hopeful of tasting stuff one didn’t always come across. After the initial helpings, chicken liver was served followed by chicken wings. Both were well done and just the kind an empty stomach yearned for.
But the question lingered: Where was the real thing?
Then the bombardment started. Up first was Kudu, a member of the antelope family. Kudu meatballs were followed by Kudu sausages. Next up was a huge piece of meat cut to size. Called Sable, also a breed of antelope, it preceded the Gemsbok and Blesbok steaks, two more varieties of antelope.
In between being pampered with generous helpings of beef, lamb and pork, came the big one. Crocodile meat — cut, marinated and grilled to your taste in small chunks. The manager informed this was the most sought-after dish at the joint.
Carnivore is one the few places in Johannesburg which specialises in serving exotic game meat. They buy the stuff from people authorised to sell them and cater to a large number of tourists. The dishes served are not necessarily “rare”. You can also get them “medium” or “well done”.
If looking at the menu board makes one wonder what Kudu, Sable or Gemsbok are all about, the attendant promptly points to the chart on the wall with the sketches of animals for identification.
The ‘Big Five’ (lion, buffalo, elephant, rhinoceros, leopard) are not served but the menu includes zebra and giraffe even though they are not easy to come by.
“We had giraffe a couple of days back,” informed the attendant, ever happy to shoot off the list of creatures on offer. “These animals are found in abundance and have to be killed at times. Otherwise, they would over-breed and cause ecological disorder,” he said.
“It’s not easy,” said chef Manuel. “The meat has to be marinated for 24 hours before being grilled. A three kg chunk needs to be smoked for at least an hour to be well done.” At 150 rand per head, if you are ready for game meat, drop in at Carnivore.