Words by Louisa Choruma
‘’Zambia has the Mosi Beer, Zimbabwe has Zambezi Lager and Kenya has …’ Tusker Lager!’”
This was our trip leader PK, cleverly avoiding divulging where we would be dining for our last supper in Nairobi – Kenya. The preceding four days in the beautiful East African nation’s capital had been filled with an assortment of full–day activities. From game drives through Nairobi National Park, to a tour of the Giraffe center, a day trip to Lake Nakuru to see the spectacular pink flamingos which was a true birder’s treat, and a quiet afternoon at the Karen Blixen Museum, the former African home, now turned museum of Danish author of the same name, best known for her 1937 masterpiece ‘’Out of Africa”, was an itinerary for the books.
Sad to be leaving and keen to have a memorable night of good food, cold drinks, and the buzz that is synonymous with Nairobi’s nightlife –we eagerly waited with PK for our pickup from the hotel to the ‘’undisclosed ‘’dining location!
Our excitement built very quickly as the sound of traditional drumbeats intertwined with that of happy voices and laughs grew louder and louder as we approached the entrance. Drawn to this magic, we all picked up the pace and followed the sounds into the magnetic world that is The Carnivore Restaurant. What energy! There was so much going on and one is compelled to try and take it all in at once! Wide-eyed and motionless, our group unwittingly blocked the entrance as we moved only our heads, absorbing the ambiance, sounds, lighting, and distinct smell of roasted meat and garlic flavor!
It took taps on the shoulder from PK to snap us out of our trance, so we could follow our waitron to our reserved table. Finally seated, PK gave us time to settle, and with his easy smile and a deep voice said: “Welcome to the Carnivore folks!’’ As he spoke, I remembered reading about this place on the internet under the ‘’Top ten must-dos in Nairobi’’, and the article has one line that read “The atmosphere combines the rustic feel of a rural setting and a medieval banquet hall!’’ I couldn’t have agreed more with this description.
An introduction into the Carnivore experience
A member of the Tamarind Management Limited (TML) stable, Carnivore Nairobi restaurant was successfully established in 1980 and can host a maximum seating capacity of 800 people a night!! This open-air restaurant is in the Langata suburb of Nairobi, Kenya. The Carnivore Restaurant’s specialty is their ‘’all-you-can-eat meat buffet’’ – serving a bountiful spread of beef, lamb, crocodile, chicken, pork, and ostrich.
“The Beast of a feast’’ as it is aptly called, is an indulgent array of breads, potatoes in all forms, from roast to jacket, and a vegetarian’s paradise of fresh greens and salads! Special dietary needs are fully catered for with couscous for the gluten intolerant, lactose free deserts and of course, roast bananas are a staple of any East African menu!!
A food experience that speaks to the soul of meat lovers
Brilliant is one of many words to describe the service! This personal touch is a display of skill, warmth, and food presentation!!! All meat is grilled on huge metal skewers – a Maasai sword of sorts to be exact. It is on these same swords that the meat is gallantly brought to the tables and carved in front of the guests!
This spectacular performance is one of many highlights of the food experience at the Carnivore! With the Maasai sword upright in one hand, fully stacked with whole joints of meat, the waitrons swiftly carve the slices off into the guests’ platters!! The aroma of seasoned grilled meat, together with the sizzle of the slices make as they land onto the wrought iron platter is enough to awake all tastebuds! Each waitron carries a different meat variety and in a synchronized manner – as beef is served, lamb is next, chicken is on its way from the next table and the ostrich is back for refills!!!
An evening in high spirits
In true African fashion-all beers are cold! “Bia yangu, Nchi yangu” means “My beer, my country” in Kiswahili – is the slogan for the local brew Tuskers, which together with other beers, whiskies, soft drinks, cocktails, and wines, are also available from the restaurant bar – throughout dinner!
Doctor Dawa is a famous feature of the beverage experience! He is the “medicine man’’ who theatrically delivers the house cocktail on a portable tray to all guests. The ‘’Dawa’’ medicine or magic potion in Swahili, is a must-try and is based on a famous Brazilian drink.
As we wound down the evening and shared highlights of the tour, it was a nice touch to have some good strong Kenyan Coffee after dessert.
Looking around the restaurant, from the paintings on the walls, local artifacts in various corners and display units, to the service staff clad in their African print uniforms, and the live band to keep us entertained – this dinner truly was a great way to conclude our trip through East Africa! Thank you, PK!