What was my first impression of The Meat Co? Simply “wow”! Walking into this South African steakhouse set in picturesque Souk Al Bahar transports the senses into another world altogether.
Theatrically dim amber lighting, embossed leather upholstery with a rustic touch of the Africans, and an introduction to the hip-swaying rhythms of shosholaza. The ambiance at The Meat Co is simply magical.
Most of the staff at The Meat Co are South African, and are therefore very well-versed with the menu offerings. They all join in for the shosholaza, but more on that later!
Bookings with The Meat Co is very professional. I made a reservation a week prior, and even had a change of dates. The staff were very accommodating, and I also received an SMS for confirmation.
We were ushered to our table, and I loved the personalized touch! My surname on a chalkboard 🙂 The funny side of this is that ‘Huda’ is my surname, my maiden surname that I haven’t changed after being wed. I jokingly said this table was for Hudas only, my hubby and bubby need to find their own 😉
Our host for the evening was the very friendly Sbu, a young man from South Africa who is obviously proud of his heritage and took great pains in accommodating my endless questions.
I was quite enthralled by the lampshades. They look like mythical blooms right out of Jumanji. I asked Sbu if they have a South African significance, much to the scorn of my husband. Apparently they are just a decorative feature. My mind’s pretty creative like that 😉
While we browsed through the extensive menu, Sbu offered us a South African bakery speciality; Chocolate Beetroot Bread.
Chocolate with beetroot? As bizarre as this combination might sound, it actually works beautifully on the palate. The beetroot has an earthy, subtle sweetness and the chocolate chips ooze decadence in this warm, freshly baked loaf. A spread of melting butter on a slice of this bread is pure indulgence. What a wonderful start to the meal!
For starters, Sbu suggested we try their Red Chili Prawn which happens to be The Meat Co’s signature starter.
The Meat Co’s Red Chili Prawn is a serving of plump, juicy prawns in a special South African sauce. The sauce has a mild hit of chili, and a soothing coolness of lemongrass. It was served on a bed of plain white rice which was much needed for soaking up that delicious sauce.
We also had The Meat Co’s Cheesy Garlic Bread. The bread was served right out of the oven, and was loaded with melting garlic-infused cheese.
Sorry about the very yellow shot, it was quite tricky shooting in The Meat Co’s amber lighting. Sbu tells us that the amber lighting has been used to symbolize the glow of hot charcoal used to cook their prime steaks.
The restaurant’s name is a clear indicator of what the kitchen specializes in; yes, this is a carnivore’s paradise! From gourmet burgers to Angus and Wagyu steaks, The Meat Co sources the best of the beef world.
We went for Wagyu, the diva of beef. You might like to read up on Wagyu beef in my earlier post here. At The Meat Co, their Wagyu is Australian.
The Meat Co serves different grades of Wagyu, and Sbu offered us the finest Grade 9+ variety. Hubby went for a fillet, and I had a rib-eye; both were a generous serving of 300 grams each.
I like my steak medium-rare, and as you can see below, the meat was cooked to perfection.
Eating Wagyu is almost a sacred affair. Each mouthful is melt-in-the-mouth soft and tender, and at The Meat Co, the steak has a mild exotic South African marinade that plays tangy-hot notes on the palate.
Talking of hot, I requested for some Peri Peri Sauce. The fiery Peri Peri is a native of South Africa, and The Meat Co pays a respectful tribute to this national treasure with this deep red, hot sauce that was still warm off the stove. I would love to have a bottle of this with everything!
We also had a serving of Mushroom Sauce. Mushroom Sauce and steak are one of those classic combinations, and the sauce here is decadently creamy with full-on butter-mushroom flavor.
For the sides, we had potato fries and mashed potatoes. The fries are not your regular fast-food french-fries variety, but have been cut into bite-sized chinks from fresh potatoes and deep-fried to a beautiful golden brown. As for the mash, it was delightfully smooth and light, and I enjoyed forking it up with mouthfuls of steak.
While we were busy digging into steak, the staff gathered around a neighboring table to sing ‘Happy Birthday’. But being The Meat Co, this was done in the full-fledged style and oomph of African beats. African drums appeared from nowhere, and the rhythm got the entire restaurant swaying. From birthday greetings, the song infused into shosholaza.
What is Shosholaza? Shosholaza is considered the second national anthem of South Africa. It is a folk song that originates from Africa’s mining past. After a long, hard laborious day at the mines, workers made the long journey home via train. Shosholaza is a celebration of finally going home. The sound “sho sho” resembles the sounds of a moving steam train. The song expresses the stress and heartache associated with mining. Shosholoza means go forward or make way for the next man in Ndebele. Shosholaza has since become an integral part of South African culture, and stands for solidarity and a form of encouragement.
The hip-swaying shosholaza was a highlight of the evening. We went home enriched with a piece of South Africa’s colorful past.
Another South African ‘enrichment’ came in the form of Malva, a traditional South African pudding. Made with fresh apricot jam, Malva has a cake-like texture that is offset with a decadently rich, sweet milk custard.
We also tried The Meat Co’s Chocolate Fondant. Getting a fondant right is tricky business, but the chefs here have created art with this dessert. The fondant exterior is firm and spongy, and one spoonful reveals a lava of exorbitantly rich dark chocolate. Sinfully good! Spoonfuls of the cold chocolate ice-cream cleanse the palate encouraging it for another dig. If you are a true chocoholic, you will definitely not be sharing this dessert!
Overall, our experience at The Meat Co was a very memorable one. It was a wonderful introduction to South African fine-dining, and I am still humming to the catchy rhythm of shosholaza.
In Dubai, The Meat Co has branches in Souk Al Bahar (where we dined) as well as Madinat Jumeirah. They also have a branch in Abu Dhabi. For more information on locations and table bookings, please visit The Meat Co’s website.