The brave, the adventurous, the foodies will go big or go home. Come Thursday night, they'll be plunging their knives and forks into a big slab of blackened gator tail.
And, yes, that's alligator, as in dinosaur-esque swamp-dwellers.
But as Jeff and Kathy Traxler often joke, they've always got “chicken for the chickens” during Wild Game Dinner nights at Traxler's Wild Game Restaurant. So if gator, osso buco or venison are a bit too avant-garde for your rural Minnesotan palate, there's always a more traditional dining option.
However, most people who reserve a spot for the Wild Game dinners — served every other Thursday from September to March — come to taste the unusual. New Zealand red deer, braised boar hock, bacon-wrapped elk loin, partridge and rabbit egg rolls, pheasant lasagna, scimitar oryx medallions, you name it.
It's as much a feast of the imagination as it is for the stomach.
“We have a lot of fun with it,” said Kathy Traxler, co-owner of Traxler's Hunting Preserve and Wild Game Restaurant.
The Traxlers have been in business more than 25 years, and they started the wild game dinners in the mid-1990s.
The couple and their family are avid hunters and have taken hunting trips to far-away places such as Africa, which is evident throughout the restaurant and lounge. Kathy joked that they're running out of room on the walls for all the exotic birds, fish and animals they've killed and mounted, from a massive elephant head to zebra to a lion and lioness.
“Most of the African mounts are from Jeff's dad, Dale Traxler,” Kathy said. “I was with him when he shot our elephant.”
But those animals are not the ones being served up on patrons' plates. The family's passion for hunting is kept separate from the restaurant, Kathy said.