Even beyond the malicious month of October, there are many ways that a typical meal can be scary. Start with a blood-colored cocktail, follow it up with an appetizer of alligator, and cap it off with an entrée of offal — it's like having dinner with the Addams Family. Or order a bottle of wine that costs more than you make in six months, and you'll have nightmares for weeks. We scared up some of Charleston's most frightening menu items. Order them if you dare.
Scrapple at Two Boroughs Larder
186 Coming St., (843) 637-3722
In his review of Two Boroughs Larder about a year ago, City Paper food critic Robert Moss opined about the gooey deliciousness of the restaurant's egg and scrapple sandwich, a permanent $6 fixture on the menu. Scrapple, he described, is made up of mystery meat, but we got a better explanation from sous chef Kevin Getzewich. "Scrapple is pig hearts, pig livers, pig's feet, kidneys, sometimes there's some head in it," he explains. "Really, it's like the scraps of whatever you have left over." Both Getzewich and owner Josh Keeler grew up in Pennsylvania, so the patty was standard in their childhood breakfast. But he doesn't think most of the restaurant's customers know what's in it. Still, they either love it or they hate it. The restaurant also doesn't fret over serving offal, with head cheese, blood sausage, and other squeamish dishes appearing on the menu. Just this month, they'll prepare crispy beef stomach at a dinner at the Gin Joint.
Duck Hearts at the Gin Joint
182 East Bay St., (843) 577-6111
Speaking of the Gin Joint, you'll find a dish of buffalo-style duck hearts situated almost innocently on the cocktail bar's menu. Based on the concept that anything is edible when fried, they marinate the hearts in Frank's Red Hot sauce and then pan-fry them, serving the dish with a side of celery, radish, and blue cheese. Line cook Kayla Bennett says it's a fairly popular item, especially on weekends, when she thinks customers see the hearts on the menu and push each other to try it out. "It's an organ meat, so it's going to be a little bit chewier," she explains. "It's an interesting texture and flavor, but definitely worth trying once."
Ghostly Goat Mac and Cheese at Hello My Name is ... BBQ
616 Meeting St., (843) 937-9800
Hello My Name is ... BBQ serves plenty of its ghostly goat mac and cheese even when the spooky season doesn't call for it. Their dish is made from goat cheese and ghost chili pepper. "Everyone is always very eager to try it, even if just to see exactly how spicy it is," says co-owner Ryner Burg. "It has a pretty good kick to it with a little burn left over, but because there is so much cream and cheese in it, it helps cool some of the heat." When they have ghost chilis in stock, Burg will also make a ghost chili mayo and a red dragon sweet pepper relish.
Ossetra Caviar at Peninsula Grill
112 N. Market St., (843) 723-0700
Despite its designation as an exorbitantly expensive delicacy, caviar is also a pretty weird thing to eat. Fish eggs? Yuck. We'll leave that to people with more refined tastes (and bigger bucks). At Peninsula Grill, their Ossetra caviar is prepared in a "Southern service," accompanied by plain toast points, pushed and separated egg yolks and egg whites, Vidalia onions, chives, a small dice of heirloom tomatoes, and fried green tomatoes. Typically, $170 of caviar is split between two people. Considering the fact that you can get a really nice dinner for two at that price, it's a pretty freaking expensive appetizer, and it's no surprise Peninsula Grill only sells one or two orders a week. "Obviously caviar is a delicacy and it's not something that's offered around the peninsula very often," says sous chef Patrick Rebholz (in fact, the only other place you can get it in town is Charleston Grill). "It's something elegant and it's not offered in most restaurants, and the fried green tomatoes add a nice Southern flair to it."
Fried Alligator Salad
at Poogan's Porch
72 Queen St., (843) 577-2337
Of all the animals you can eat, the alligator is probably the most frightening. They can eat you, or your pet, and they will do it if you give them the chance. So it's only proper that we eat them before they eat us, especially since they're delicious. At Sean Brock's recent collaborative dinner with chef Magnus Nilsson, the pair partnered up on an alligator bite, but you can get the protein on a normal day at Poogan's Porch. Their fried alligator salad is one of the most popular appetizers, according to chef James Trez. He's not sure if that's because customers are adventurous or if they're long-time gator converts. The restaurant has served alligator for years, but a recent menu overhaul took the dish in another direction. Gator has a lot of the same attributes as chicken, but without the same flavor profile. "When cooked properly, it's very tender," Trez says. The salad is served with pickled sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and a sweet-and-spicy honey jalapeño dressing.
Blood Orange Harvest Cocktail
10 Linguard St., (843) 534-2155
Despite its somewhat unpleasant name, a blood orange is really just an orange on steroids, according to Tristan's Bar Manager Ken Maciejewski. "It's really nice and really fruity and has a really vibrant flavor," he says. One of the restaurant's most popular cocktails is the Blood Orange Harvest, made from American Harvest vodka, Fernet Branca, agave, a little bit of Cava, and, of course, blood orange. Maciejewski says it's a very balanced drink. "It is definitely a good seasonal cocktail around this season," he adds. "Champagne cocktails never go out of season."
A 2005 Château Petrus Pomerol
at the Ocean Room
1 Sanctuary Beach Dr. Kiawah., (843) 768-6253
The Ocean Room at the Sanctuary on Kiawah has a $6,500 bottle of wine, a 2005 Château Petrus Pomerol. Let that sentence sink in for a second, and if it doesn't have you running screaming for the hills, we don't know what will.