Saturday, October 16, 2010

carnivore

The other night we almost subjected ourselves to a most absurd eating experience. We pulled out, practically running away from the table, though, before it was too late.

The name of the restaurant is "Carnivore". We were somewhat fascinated and somewhat horrified by the name. A morbid fascination, perhaps, was what drew us to the place, even though there was a vegetarian in our midst. For my part, I'm always on the lookout for Brazilian-style churrascarias, those fabulous all-you-can-eat-meat joints. Outside of Brazil, the best I've had has been in Africa. So I dared to hope.

We pulled up to the recently-inagurated facility at the end a line of popular fast-food chains. Ten metre-tall bulls horns - or were they bisons claws? - loomed over us as we walked under the entry arch they created.

On our left was a huge barbeque pit with about 5 skewers of meat and space for about 50 more. Ahead of us was an indoor seating area that looked like a hunting lodge. By the pit were some outdoor tables and chairs. The chairs had fake zebra-skin covers.

Before we could take in any more, a smily African man in a bright coral-coloured shirt greeted us. He was clearly excited for our presence and invited us in. We said we were waiting for some more friends and he insisted we sit down on the zebra chairs while we waited. His assistant selected a seat among the table's 10 chairs and held it for my friend. The bright-shirt man chose another chair and pulled it out for me. Overwhelmed and at a loss for how to refuse politely, we sat.

The man didn't go away. Instead he started to chat with us about everyday things - where we're from and what we do. Then Smiley told us that this is a new restaurant with a set menu. For a single - steep - fee, we would get water, soup, all we can eat meat, desert and coffee. What about a vegetarian, we asked? He offered chicken. No good. So he went away to talk with the kitchen and we leaned back in our chairs. My friend quickly texted the rest of our party, warning them about the price.

I took in the rest of the scenery: stuffed aligator by the entrance to the kitchen, some crazy wooden balls hanging from above which felt they could fall on us. The whole ambiance screamed cheesy-theme-restaurant: MEAT!!! We should have suspected, considering the name of the restaurant.

The coral coloured smiley guy came back and offered mushrooms to my friend, with no discount. Then he offered us water. We refused. He insisted. We refused. He had his assistant pour us water, which we didn't drink.

Because as soon as our third friend showed up, he took a quick look at the place, heard our quote of the menu, and agreed with us. Since Smiley was nowhere in site, we quickly walked out.

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