A carvery is an eatery which serves meat sliced to order. Carveries take a number of different forms, and appear to be native to Great Britain. They can also be spotted in South Africa, Ireland, parts of the United States, and Australia. The offerings at a carvery tend to be fairly basic, with customers being provided with a simple, filling meal without many frills. The type of food is that which many people associate with Britain's culinary history; simple, filling, and made with ingredients readily available in the region.
At a traditional carvery, customers receive their choice of meat along with potatoes, vegetables, and gravy. Meats can include traditional roasts of pork, lamb, and beef, and the carvery may also offer seafood, along with more exotic meats. Traditional British vegetables like peas, carrots, and parsnips are common offerings, with sauces such as mint sauce for lamb being available as well. Some carveries allow people to take as much meat as they like, while others portion out the meat, charging extra if people want more.
Some carveries make sandwiches, using generous cuts of roast beef and other meats. Such establishments may focus on using high quality bread and other ingredients for a more gourmet sandwich, and may offer exotic ingredients and combinations to keep people interested in their offerings. Others provide basic, cheap sandwiches which may not be of the highest quality, but will be filling, and can be packed on picnics, hikes, and other outdoor activities for a quick lunch. Such sandwiches are also sometimes made at a carvery and sold to corner stores so that people can pick up a sandwich while making other purchases.
In some cases, a carvery is located in a hotel, although this practice is waning, as hotel guests have come to expect higher and more varied standards from hotel food. Pubs may also serve carvery meals, sometimes only offering such meals on set days or at specific times. People may eat the food at the carvery, or order a to go box with the meats of their choice.
Historically, some carveries marketed themselves as special occasion restaurants where people could take friends and family and eat amply, but reasonably cheaply. Some decorated themselves with themes which were meant to reference various historical eras or local products. Pubs which held occasional carvery nights would use the event as a way for everyone to socialize over a simple meal which would not require a great deal of work to prepare.