I mean, it’s named Cannibal…how ballsy is that? For the tongue in cheek name alone, I wanted to dine here. Plus, this butcher shop-cum-restaurant ages its own beef and offers delicacies like lamb tartare, beef hearts, and pig’s heads…it sounded right up my alley!
Cannibal doesn’t take reservations for parties of fewer than six, so be prepared to wait if you come here on a weekend. The long, narrow restaurant is mostly bar space. However, the outside patio is enclosed and heated, and dining at one of the long, rustic picnic tables is a great option. It’s great for a couple of friends grabbing a quick bite, or a group of buddies who want to eat every part of the pig. The vibe is very cool and Brooklyn-esque…if you don’t know what I mean by that, watch an episode of Portlandia.
The thing to drink here is beer – the list is positively gargantuan, as evidenced by the long cases of beer lining the restaurant walls. There is a full bar and a small by-the-glass wine list, but come on, live a little…get a beer, ale, porter, or stout. Go for the large format, light and easy-to-drink Higgs de Bosson or a refreshing beer Negroni from the short but excellent beer cocktail list.
Note: Please excuse the poor photos, but the food was as great as the lighting was bad!
A crisp, bright salad that was necessary with all of our meaty choices. The sprouts are in a mixture of shreds and whole leaves, dressed in a fragrant olive oil vinaigrette. The pine nuts are rich and crunchy next to the grassy sprouts, and those red onions add a little zip. The final touch is a very gently boiled egg that has JUST barely solidified, so it is creamy and not crumbly. This simple salad is well composed, designed to complement the meat on the menu yet also stand on its own.
My favorite dish of the night. Made in house, it is cured in Sriracha, Worcestershire, sugar, and other ingredients. Then it is dried until pleasantly chewy but still juicy and far softer than most commercial jerky. It has an inherent beefy, robust taste that is accentuated by spicy, salty, and sweet notes. It is vibrant and complex in flavor – I really can’t say enough about this jerky. It’s a standout in every way.
An excellent sampling of hard to find hams. The long board is piled generously with salty Virginia ham, paper-thin whisps of deeply savory Benson County ham, and – my favorite – the thickly shaved prosciutto. I don’t know when I have had such good prosciutto. One member of our party remarked “wow… this really tastes raw…and I mean that in a good way.” The meat tastes fresh, soft and succulent; more smoky than salty and more sweet than either. The fat melts on the tongue the way that only Iberian ham usually does, and the slightly thicker cut makes it very satisfying. The accompanying buttery biscuit and honey are delightful as well.
We also had a wonderful Mediterranean accented lamb tartare and some tasty garlicky cauliflower. The service could not be better – really, the entire staff from host to server went out of its way to recommend items, see how we were doing, and kibbitz with us during the meal. That being said, Cannibal is a little expensive for what it is. Expect to pay at least $30 per person for a meal here, and you will leave satisfied but in no way bursting from the portions. However, if you want to try some really well prepared meats and are feeling flush, this is worth a visit.
And when you go, get some of that jerky…then give it to me.