If there’s anything I like about living in Marikina, it’s that there’s always a new hole-in-the-wall foodie gem waiting to be discovered. Karnevore promises to be one such gem. Having just opened since at least November of last year, they already have a fair share of fans following their Facebook page and singing praises for their affordable selection of BBQs and other grilled meats.
Karnevore is a little off from Marcos Highway or Mayor Gil Fernando Avenue, and can be found on the corner of Pitpitan Street and Martelyete Street. It can be easy to miss, but Marikenyos who take the Montalban jeep from Sta. Lucia back home should already have at least seen their storefront.
Parking may be an issue during the day since Karnevore shares those spots with other establishments in the same commercial building, but after those other stores have closed, it becomes pretty easy to park.
What It’s Like Inside
Karnevore doesn’t look much from the outside, but starts to look more like an authentic steakhouse once you’re seated. It’s a small space, so you can actually see the flames go up on occasion behind the counter. Thankfully, proper ventilation and open-air layout meant the heat didn’t make it all the way to our seats. All that grilling will cling to your clothes though, so make sure this is the last stop of any outing.
If you’re hoping this establishment serves booze along with their meats, this small display to the left of the counter should be a good indication.
There’s also in-house entertainment of sorts, thanks to a mounted flat screen and decent sound system. The audio was different from what was on screen though. We’d be watching Spy (Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law) and the speakers would be playing something else entirely.
Karnevore has a modest selection of appetizers, burgers, sides, and mains, all of which cater to the carnivore of all of us.
There’s a bit of booze as well, but that’s limited to San Miguel Light and Pale Pilsen, Brew Kettle, and Tanduay Ice.
Patience is a virtue, since it takes about 15 to 20 minutes to serve your order, but that’s easily understandable since everything is grilled right there.
To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of grilled meats, be they steaks or barbecues. Karnevore however did a good job of changing my mind, even if it was just one night. We tried one of their bestsellers, the Karnevore Tommy Chops (Php 205, Single), which is basically a tomahawk pork chop marinated in herb oil, seasoned with basil and pesto, garnished with French beans and tomatoes, and gravy served on the side. I chose Java rice for my side, but you can also choose between mashed potatoes, french fries, and plain rice.
The sizable Tommy chop we were served was juicy for the most part, although it did get a bit dry in the thicker parts of the chop. However, it made up for it with almost perfect seasoning and I easily went without the gravy for almost the entire meal. It was just as well as I found that the gravy didn’t jive that well with the seasoning, but came in handy with those aforementioned dry sections.
As mentioned, I’m not a fan of barbecues, but I am a big fan of pork belly wherever I can find it. This is why I wanted to order the Karnevore Southwestern BBQ Pork Belly (Php215, Single). The BBQ Pork Belly is served with an adequate amount of homemade BBQ sauce, as well as salad and buttered corn on the side. Similar to the Tommy Chops, you also get to choose between a side of Java rice, plain rice, french fries, or mashed potatoes.
The pork belly was mouth-wateringly tender, although what really surprised me was the BBQ sauce with its subtle citrus overtone. Most of the time, BBQ sauces overdo it, but Karnevore got theirs just right in my opinion. The corn was also a pleasant surprise as not only was it slathered in butter, but Parmesan cheese as well. This added a nice bit of complexity where you wouldn’t usually find it.
The star of the evening though was the Sicilian Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings (Php285, 16pcs). They didn’t just rub Parmesan on their wings. They dumped a whole bunch of it on top. Then they seasoned it with garlic, basil and generous serving of capers. Each bite was chock full of flavor. And as if that wasn’t enough, there was also garlic mayo dip on the side.
Is It Worth Coming Back For?
I would probably come back for the Sicilian Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings alone, although I’m certainly eager to try out some other items on the menu. It’s hard to beat the quality of food for the money that you’re paying. Our entire bill that night had it been just the wife and I would have just been Php420. With 16pcs of chicken wings, it was just Php705! I did have a friend who didn’t enjoy their steaks though, so I’ll probably try those out so I can form my own opinion. Still, I did enjoy everything we tasted and I’ll be sure to drop by again in the near future.