Tens of thousands of people will swarm the Holy City for the annual Southeastern Wildlife Exposition this weekend to celebrate wildlife and everything it offers. And what better way to celebrate wildlife than by eating it? Various fine restaurants around town have added wild game choices to their menus, and here are the ones you can't miss.
"We are featuring dishes that can't be found anywhere else in town," says Matthew Niessner, executive chef at Halls Chophouse on King Street. Niessner will be beer-battering and frying up alligator tail with grilled corn and red pepper salad. In addition to their regular selection of beefy steaks, they'll have a 16 oz. bison rib-eye just for the special weekend. Niessner is also preparing an apple cider-braised duck, Manchester Farms quail over collard greens and grits, and a pheasant breast with local vegetables.
Over at High Cotton on East Bay Street, Chef Ramon Taimanglo is serving a guinea thigh with black-eyed peas. Then there's Palmetto squab with celery root puree and a black truffle reduction, and rabbit loin with baked polenta and broccoli rabe. "We are using French techniques on these classic dishes," says Taimanglo. "But we are also adding a twist of Southern flair."
Cypress on East Bay Street has two bold lamb dishes. "We embrace the SEWE crowd, and hope they come in and try something different," says Chef Craig Deihl. For an appetizer, he's serving braised lamb shank with a red wine reduction, tomatoes, black olives, and ricotta gnocchi. As an entree, there's duo of lamb loin and rack served with farro verde and lamb bacon-braised collards. All lamb is from Border Spring Farms and is cooked on a special wood-burning grill.
McCrady's is preparing dishes to your heart's content, literally. The restaurant will be offering lamb heart, served with black olive, preserved lemon, and red bok choy. If organ meat's not your thing, try the venison with parsnip, Brussels sprouts, preserved black berries, and cocoa or the quail with red Russian kale, almonds, and meadowsweet.
In more familiar territory, Oak Steakhouse on Broad Street is serving a braised venison osso-bucco served with applewood stone ground grits, confit black cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and golden raisins. Chef de Cuisine Joseph Jacobson says they'll also have a deep-fried quail from Manchester Farms served with Caw Caw Creek pork, Geechie Boy cornbread stuffing over bok choy with a black currant gastrique.