London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Shaka Zulu Meat Bar

South African

Generally when the words 'meat' and 'cocktails' are found in the same sentence, it is in reference to a particularly fun sounding barbecue held on a sunny summer’s afternoon. However, the new cocktail menu at the Shaka Zulu, South African bar and restaurant in Camden, takes a different approach to the use of these words. In fact, they put them right next to each other.

The three new cocktails that form part of the Meat Bar menu, seek to combine the refreshing nature of a cocktail with the flavour of meat, taking the idea of bar snacks to a whole new level. The Meatequita is a Margarita inspired drink, infused with chorizo and balsamic vinegar, amongst other unusual ingredients, and is served with some traditional South African biltong and a slice of chorizo on the rim. The Bloody Bacon uses the base of a Bloody Mary and infuses it with, well, Bacon; a combination of bacon vodka and bacon strips, completed with some celery and a cocktail stick of cheese and tomato. Finally, the Salm 'n Martini brings along a fishy influence and is served with salmon, stuffed pepper and olives on the side.

The drinks are, as we're sure is intended, interesting. They are all very unusual flavours, and certainly not what your taste buds are used to. It takes a little while to wrap your head around the fact that the meaty taste you are getting is coming from a drink rather than solid food. Sadly, this works against the cocktails and all take a bit of getting used to. Over time, they can become a little overwhelming, which can put you off from drinking too much.

We couldn't help but feel that the drinks would work a lot better as smaller doses, maybe as a shot or a double shot, or even a sipping drink in similar measures. This would mean you would have a chance to ‘digest’ the fact that you just essentially drank meat, and if it wasn't to your taste, allow you to move on to something else. We say this because another factor is the price. Whilst Shaka Zulu is an upmarket establishment, and chances are if you're eating or relaxing there in the first place, you are likely to have a fair amount of cash to splash, the cocktails come in at a whopping £15.50 each. A pretty steep price by any measure and nearly £5 more than most of Shaka Zulu's other cocktail offerings. The problem here is that while these drinks are certainly interesting, it's difficult to justify them as £15.50 worth of interesting; another reason why they would work better as a shot (we would feel much better about paying £5 for an interesting shot, than £15.50 for the full cocktail).

Aside from the cocktails, the bar snacks are excellent, with some tasty sausages and even an offering of zebra, which was surprisingly delicious. Overall, if you are feeling flush, then Shaka Zulu is worth a visit for the novelty alone, but if not, then you're probably going to be priced out of the meat market.

The Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AB

Average price for a sharing platter: £15
Average price for a cocktail: £15
Food/drink: 2/5
Service: 4/5
Value: 2/5

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