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Wild about Game? Here’s a Sampling of Restaurants to Try

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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Bison and rabbit and boar - oh my!

Pheasant and ostrich and quail - oh my!

If that little ditty sends your taste buds springing to attention, there are ways to indulge your wild game appetite, no hunting gear required. Imagine sitting down to a perfectly grilled buffalo steak paired with a bold zinfandel, or braised rabbit with a smooth pinot noir. Nice, right? Several restaurants across the state cater to folks with a taste for things untamed. Here are a few where game not only sits securely on the menu, but is the draw for many hungry patrons - proof that South Carolina dining is about more than shrimp and grits.

Beyond the Bull, Seneca

The proprietors of Beyond the Bull are on a mission to serve up healthier animal protein options. Meat is carefully sourced from animals that subsisted off a natural diet - free of antibiotics, corn, soy and chicken by-products. Coupled with skillful preparation by chef Angela Bell, the menu at this interesting restaurant has gained legions of fans.

Representative dishes: Bison short-ribs with tomato and wine, roasted quail with honey, lemon and pepper, rabbit with tangy barbecue sauce, duck cakes with caramelized onion and cilantro.

Gerhard's Café, Spartanburg

This rustic Upstate eatery has European flair and doubles as a pizzeria - an unusual, but adventurous dining option. Wild game offerings reflect authentic German influences.

Representative dishes: Elk Rouladen served with Spaetzle and Red Cabbage, Bacon Wrapped Wild Pheasant served with Spaetzle and Red Cabbage with Hunter's Sauce, and Wild Boar Chops, cut to order and topped with Wild Mushroom Sauce.

Saskatoon, Greenville

When you walk in to this establishment, you'll feel you've been transported to the Northwest thanks to rustic surroundings, which include antler chandeliers. The menu is just as transformative with meat-centric offerings that include plenty of game roasted over a hickory wood fire. If you're going to go "wild," this is definitely the place to do it. Reservations recommended.

Representative dishes: Wild Game Sausages, Buffalo Flank Steak, Elk Tenderloin, Ostrich and Remington Roasted Duck.

The Drawing Room, Charleston

This downtown restaurant in the historic French Quarter district is quickly earning a reputation for fine dining. With 2016 SC Chef Ambassador Forrest Parker at the helm, you are guaranteed a memorable experience thanks to expert local sourcing and a dedication to South Carolina's culinary roots. This includes wild game, which arrives at the table all dressed up and creatively prepared with local ingredients.

Representative dishes: Smoked Carolina Quail with native chestnut polenta, wild mushrooms and poached egg, Venison Carpaccio, with herb aioli, dressed cress, toasted rice, benne and sour dough croutons, and Iron Skillet Duck with seared foi gras, dirty rice, collards and Bradford watermelon and cowpea relish.

Circa 1886, Charleston

Dining doesn't get much more elegant than at Circa 1886. Chef Marc Collins and staff offer a refined experience worthy of Charleston's stellar reputation as a dining destination. Though there are typically only a couple or so wild game offerings on the seasonal menu, this venue hosts an annual Wild Game Dinner in the fall that aficionados won't want to miss.

Representative dishes from the seasonal menu: Vadouvan Fried Quail with coconut rice, Antelope with an achiote rub.

Representative dishes from the 2016 Wild Game Dinner: Rabbit n' Wild Mushroom Galantine, Coffee Crusted Elk Loin and Foie Gras Crème Brulee.

The Studio, Hilton Head

Wild meets artsy at this eclectic café. Chef Paul Colella brings art, music and international flavors to the table for dining that indulges all the senses. Though fish and vegetarian dishes get heavier play here, wild game offerings are given the same thoughtful interpretations.

Representative dishes: Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast with pomegranate-cherry chutney, Broken Arrow Ranch Wild Boar Chops with Vidalia onion-fig coulis.

Fire & Smoke Gastropub, Myrtle Beach

This "scratch kitchen" hot spot relies heavily on local products when possible, though game meats are sourced from reputable suppliers. Chef Tyler Rice and his wife, Leslie, opened the eatery in 2013 and have earned a reputation for wood-smoked, creative wild game offerings.

Representative dishes: Duck Confit Nachos, Wood-grilled Breast of Quail, Grilled Foie Gras, and a delectable Smoked Bison and Wild Boar Meatloaf with a blackberry-chipotle glaze.

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.