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Carnivore's Restaurant in Nairobi

I was recently in Nairobi and went to the famous Carnivore's for dinner. I was anticipating being able to try a wide variety of game meats. We looked at the menu and every item was something I could get a TGI Fridays. We selected the meat sampler for 2, still thinking we could try something different. The platter arrived and the wiater described beef sausages, chicken, and meat. We were a bit confused as we weren't expecting chicken.... The platter consisted of 2 pieces of chicken (very dry. I couldn't finish it), 4 ostrich meatballs (which were very tasty), 2 pork breakfast sausages (identified as beef by the waiter) and 6 slices of beef (think of minute steaks very well done).

I paid and was waiting outside for my girlfriend. She found a manager because she wasn't sure what she'd eaten. He informed her they weren't allowed to serve game and everything was well done for health safety reasons.

To his credit he was horrified that the waiter didn't fully explain everything on the plate and my girlfriend showed up with 4 pieces of crocodile (the only game they are allowed to serve).

Very disappointed.

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  1. That sucks for the eater though perhaps not the animal. We went there 10 years ago (can it really be that long ago?) and were served all sorts of game and unusual meats. Perhaps things have changed with an eye towards animal conservation?

    1. What a shame - I went to their other place in Joburg - an amazing choice Zebra,warthog,etc etc - give it a go if you can.

      1. It is true. For anyone out there hoping to eat game in Kenya, you ain't gonna get it legally. Game meat is currently banned. I think this may be an attempt to drive down the market for game meat in a bid to reduce illegal poaching etc. However, all game meat served in Carnivore and similar places used to come from ranched animals - thus would not have been poached in the first place. Anyway, don't believe the tourist brochures etc which say that you will have a chance to sample game meats. The most exotic meat you can legally get is I think prob now croc, or camel (which is good). We shall see what the effects are on animal numbers...

        1. Had Dinner there last Friday night [12/7/07]. I did not like it. Very noisie and the service was rushed and the food not very good. Would not go back there again.

          1. I went to Carnivore in early March (2008). Indeed, they no longer save game meat save for crocodile (which tasted somewhat fishy). We still had a very good time, though. They bring huge chunks of meat to the table and cut you/give you a portion. One round is enough to fill you up, but it's all you can eat so you can have seconds (though you may have to chase the waiter). The meats are pretty good, specially by Kenya standards, and the restaurant is quite nice. That said, it was pretty quiet when we went, as tourists had not yet gone back to Kenya.

            1 Reply
            1. re: fooding

              Every time l've had crocodile it's been fishy. l think it's the nature of the beast, so to speak. ;)

            2. I was in Nairobi in the beginning of December and went to the Carnivore. We were a group of friends and had a great time. However I didn't really think the meat was spectacular, I tried everything and was not immensely impressed. I did completely love the Dawa drink they serve though. I have been making them at home ever since. I would go again just because it was fun the service was great and it was part of the whole Kenyan experience.

              1. Instead of Carnivore, a much better bet is Fogo Gaucho in Westlands. Similar concept (all you can eat meat presented on skewers etc) but all offerings are really excellent and perfectly-cooked. Carnivore used to be good in the game meat days, but now it's overpriced, less of an "event" and the meat is generally dry and overcooked.

                3 Replies
                1. re: moneya

                  The reason Carnivore was great back in the day with all the exotic game meats is partially due to poaching. Now that there are better (not even close to perfect, mind you) anti-poaching rules and programs. 15 yrs ago a local guy could shoot a Zebra (or insert what you were hoping to taste here instead) and just sell the meat via black (or very dark grey) markets and it would be a special at the Carnivore that night.

                  The operation in South Africa is successful because there are very well managed farms there that produce the exotic meats in a more sustainable fashion. Kenya does not currently have the means/infrastructure to do it right, so IMO I am glad the menu at Carnivore's looks like your neighborhood TGIF.

                  1. re: Befuness

                    I ate Zebra and lots of other stuff at the Carnivore 18 years ago! I remember huge skewers of meat being brought around, like churascaria on steriods - I do remember most things being over cooked - but it was fun. Wonder where my t shirt went!

                    1. re: Befuness

                      I am so glad you brought this up.

                      I've not said anything so far, but I've always been shocked that the same tourists who ooh-ed and aah-ed at magnificent wildlife on safaris, and tsk-ed tsk-ed at poachers, came back to Nairobi and stuffed themselves with zebra, giraffe, and other quasi endangered species.

                      I'm glad ZA sources from reputable and sustainable farms. And, absent those in KE, I echo your gladness that the menu now only includes "ordinary" meats.

                  2. Just an update on Carnivore, recently it has stopped serving most game meats and the ones served are farm-reared - ostrich, gazelle and crocodile. I personally find it a rip-off and think there are far better dining options in Nairobi, especially recently.

                    1. There was a point in time while living in Nairobi ('86-'93) when they were serving giraffe, crocodile, ostrich, wildebeest, zebra, and several other game meats. As l understood it (and as Cameroon pointed out) they were ranch animals. However, poaching has always been a major problem in Kenya, and l suspect that they thought continuing to serve game meat would either encourage poaching, or imply to the clientele that this was where the meat was coming from. lt really is too bad, though; it was always one of my favorite restaurants. l still go when l'm in town, but mostly for nostalgic purposes.