There is more to the cow than sirloin, rump and fillet.
Rump, sirloin, T-bone, rib eye these are all the usual suspects you’ll find on any steakhouse menu. They’re at Carne SA and Carne on Kloof of course, but so are a few other cuts that are less familiar to South African diners.

Chef-proprietor Giorgio Nava is a master of specialist steaks and he lets the meat do the talking. Marinades are out while olive oil, a sprig of rosemary and a sliver of garlic are in, and there are but four side sauces on the menu.

At his restaurants you’ll be able to step outside your comfort zone and sample some interesting lesser-known cuts, something I highly recommend for all uninitiated carnivores.

“There is more to the cow than sirloin, rump and fillet,” says Nava. “In Italy we get more than 26 different cuts from an animal. Here in South Africa it is usually not more than 12.”

CUT ABOVE THE REST: Milanese chef Nava loves classic northern Italian recipes.

Nava, who is particularly fond of prime cuts on the bone because “the meat cooked next to the bone is fantastic”, serves La Lombatella hanger steak (found near the kidneys), flat iron steak (on the shoulder), and the succulent spider steak, full of incredible flavour and amazingly tender, which is available exclusively at Carne On Kloof. It’s also known as the oyster steak, and originates from the animal’s hip socket; shaped like a spider’s web, the fine striations of fat are the secret to its deliciousness.

That and skilled preparation.

At a dinner to showcase these cuts, we were served sweetbreads pan-fried with white wine, butter and sage to begin. The culinary name for the thymus or the pancreas, these delectable morsels are heart-stoppingly rich and speak to Nava’s objective of using as much of an animal as possible.

The second course was roasted marrow bones, after which we were presented with the hanger steak, flat iron and spider steak, as well as pork sirloin on the bone and seared calf’s liver.

Lamb features prominently at Carne as well - cutlets, rib eye, rump - and slow-baked inside ravioli with sage butter, one of my all-time favourite dishes.

Ravioli stuffed with slow baked lamb shoulder with sage butter.

Both restaurants are famous for the 1.2kg La Fiorentina T-bone. Presented sliced off the bone, it’s meant for two people to share but no one will judge you if you order it just for yourself.

This is pretty much Banting heaven right here. Another cut you don’t see very often, and should because it’s wonderful, is picanha rump, or beef rump cap, with its layer of yummy fat. The Brazilians love it; get a piece of this action only at Carne on Kloof.

* Carne SA in Keerom Street in the Cape Town CBD is open for dinner Mondays to Saturdays; Carne on Kloof is open for lunch and dinner.

For bookings, call 021 424 3460 (Carne SA) or 0214265566 (Carne on Kloof), or e-mail [email protected].com