This is a review of The Cannibal. But it's also a love letter to the ladies of the world who eat meat.
To our female vegetarian friends, we've got nothing but respect and admiration. Whether your motivation is health or humanity, we're all about the animal-free lifestyle, if that's what suits you. But there's just something magical about a girl who not only craves the occasional steak, but would consume a baby cow's feelings if they had enough flavor. That's the girl you'll find hanging out at The Cannibal. And she's not as rare as you might think.
All you need is the name of this place to understand what kind of restaurant it is. No, The Cannibal doesn't serve human, but they do serve all kinds of other delicious mammal parts, along with a mind-boggling selection of beers. As a result, you'd probably expect to find a certain kind of clientele here: men who look like absolute sh*tbags. You know what I'm talking about. A restaurant like this tends to exclusively attract the oh-so-desirable demographic of dudes who shave every two weeks and sweat while they eat. But that's not the crowd you'll find in this place. Every time we've been to The Cannibal, we've observed plenty of classy looking women in the joint, enjoying a Belgian ale and a plate of something that has pig face meat in it. Those are the women we're here to honor. We love you.
So why the contingent of lady-regulars in a place that you'd otherwise expect to be filled with people who have no regard for their own personal health? The Cannibal attracts a diverse crowd because they do it right. Yes, the menu is full of heavy-duty carnivore feed, like liver mousse and terrines and blood sausage and lamb neck. As a matter of fact, half of the tiny space is occupied by a butcher counter. But everything we've eaten here has had a certain touch of refinement that makes it appealing to the causal meat eaters among us -regardless of gender. The pig's head terrine is less gelatinous and more solid than we expected, and served with an amazing honey-chili paste to bring out the flavor. The beef heart tartare is prepared and spiced so that it tastes more like high-flavor, high-quality meat than squeaky weirdness. Even the slow roasted half pig's head comes with a bunch of pita and fixins so that you can eat it "gyro style" rather than from the end of a knife like some sort of heathen. Add in a friendly staff to walk you through the menu and endless wine and beer options, and you can see why this place is loved by all walks of life. Now if you'll excuse us, we'll be in the corner of the bar watching girls eat hot dogs. Respectfully.
This is an absolutely fantastic terrine made up of the delicious parts from a pig's face (all of it). It's usually a dish we shy away from, just because when it's bad - it's bad. But here, the face meat is packed in tight so that there's very little jiggly gelatin holding things together. It's nice and firm and full of flavor, especially when you spread whatever condiment they're serving with it on top. On our visits it was a chili-honey paste that was crazy good.
Eat it, even if you don't want to. You'll be very surprised at how tame this tartare is, even though it's made up almost entirely of a f*cking cow's heart. What you'll find is a meaty flavor complimented by vinegary things like tobasco and crunchy things like fried shallots. There's even some parmesan on there for good measure. Oh, and you'll appreciate the relatively small portion size so that you don't feel like a Komodo dragon after eating it.
Two delicious hot dogs, covered in a beef and beef heart ragu "chili," and then topped with mustard and white onions. These are excellent.
We like the beef heart tartare, but the lamb is our favorite. This is again a manageable portion, this time of raw lamb meat that's been mixed with capers, egg yolk, and a harissa aioli. The lamb is in nice sized chunks, and is neither too lamby nor not lamby enough. Order it.
The Cannibal actually does vegetables up nicely too, but these carrots are not the vegetable you should order. When we had them, they were mushy and the anchovy was way too present. So it tasted a bit like eating a plate of boneless goldfish that died yesterday.
There it is. This beet salad with candied walnuts, and horseradish Greek yogurt is awesome. Eat one so you don't die.
Wanna know how we ended up eating some of this? The people next to us at the bar had no idea what they were getting into, and when a giant pan of sliced up pig's head arrived with a pile of bread, they let us get in on it. That's the kind of place the Cannibal is - one where people share their horrifying serving of animal head with complete strangers. God bless this place.