Hunt Club Grill offers wild variety
WRITTEN BY JOHN FEW
PHOTOS BY JOSHUA BERRY
Looking for something different for dinner? A restaurant in Madison promises unique dishes and atmosphere that diner can find nowhere else in the area. With a menu that includes options such as a kangaroo, gator, elk, wild boar and duck bacon, it’s safe to say Hunt Club Burgers N Grill is a safari adventure for the taste buds.
The Hunt Club at 10871 County Line Road in Madison has been serving up wild game since it opened in 2015.
Hunt Club entrees feature a variety of wild game meats – like burgers made from elk, antelope, venison, bison, kangaroo and wild boar or brats made from rattlesnake and rabbit, elk and bison. Customers can also get chunks of fried gator and marinated antelope, and the restaurant even offers a camel meat burger.
Owner Violet Lawrence said the premise for the unique dining experience is in the name: Hunt Club.
“My uncle hunted his whole life. I remember when after the hunt, everyone gathered around and enjoyed that group camaraderie. It was something that brought the whole family and friends together,” Lawrence said. “That is what the Hunt Club does for Madison. It’s just such a friendly atmosphere. We are like the old “Cheers,”, a neighborhood flavor type of place. It has been really great to see that develop over the past five years.”
The atmosphere at the Hunt Club is relaxed and cozy. The dining room is decorated similar to how an actual hunting club might be. Stuffed dear heads adorn the walls, along with other taxidermized wild game plus hunting and fishing photos.
The main attraction, however, is the menu. Hunt Club’s signature menu item is the Bama Buck, an elk patty marinated in their own wild game sauce with lettuce, sautéed mushrooms and onions, melted pepper jack cheese, thick cherrywood-smoked bacon and quail eggs.
Lawrence said the quail egg adds a delectable, naturally buttery flavor and textural counterpoint. “People tend to be a little cautious about adding the quail egg at first – until they taste it, and they are like, ‘Wow!’” she said.
The Hunt Club Burger is one of the newest offerings. It’s a red stag venison patty topped with smoked applewood duck bacon, fried quail eggs, Dijon mustard and cheese. “It is really unique,” said Lawrence. “A great combination of flavors.” Gator is also popular at the Hunt Club. Customers can order gator bites, which is fresh alligator battered and fried in a Cajun Louisiana batter and served with ranch sauce. “The old saying that it tastes just like chicken is true in this case,” Lawrence said. Customers can also try chunks of fried gator smothered in melted cheese with buffalo sauce and served with ranch or blue cheese.
Another customer favorite is the bacon brisket burger. “It’s a fresh beef brisket and a slab of bacon that has been ground together,” Lawrence said. “It’s so rich tasting; it’s awesome. The customers love it.” Hunt Club also has its own style of fries. “We call it the Redneck Fries,” Lawrence said. “They are thick-cut fries with our own special seasoning that gives them a kick.” Customers can even get the fries topped with bison chili and jalapeños, cheddar or ghost cheese and the Hunt Club’s own barbecue sauce. The Bison Cowboy Beer n’ Bean Chili is made with bison, cactus, diced onion and jalapenos.
The Hunt Club also serves up wild game brats with rattlesnake and rabbit mixed with pork; other brats include the jalapeño cheddar smoked elk and the bison.
Hunt Club has something for the pizza lover, too: wild game pizza. Montana Elk pizza is a 12-inch thin crust stone cooked pizza topped with ground elk and “summertime” bison sausage, sweet peppers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, fresh diced jalapeños and a three-cheese mix of parmesan, provolone and mozzarella.
The menu includes several other more traditional options, including chicken wings and Angus beef hotdogs. The restaurant’s mixed salad is called the Bad Hunter, and they also have salads with grilled or fried chicken and with marinated grilled steak with corn and beans.
Hunt Club also offers oven roasted subs. Lawrence said the most popular sub is The Grazer, which includes strips of marinated grilled ribeye steak with sautéed onions and mushrooms, smothered in melted cheese with a side of au jus sauce.
Friday night is steak night. “We usually fix ribeye, bison or a French elk rack,” Lawrence said. “We sometimes bring things in for customers to try.” Lawrence said specialty meats are offered from time to time, depending the availability of the supplier. “It’s pretty neat to bring some new things here for people to try,” she said. “There is a little bit of something here for everybody.”
Cooking wild game correctly can be a challenge, Lawrence said.
“A chef really has to be on their game. It goes from medium to dry in three seconds, so you’ve got to cook and focus on that meat,” she said. “There is a special way to cook each meat just right. We do not have fillers in it, so it does have to be cooked a certain way so it’s not dried out.”
Customer service has also been a huge draw for the Hunt Club. “We are like a family. We know people by name,” Lawrence said. “They come in here three, four, five times a week, and it’s just like ‘Cheers.’” She said the employees are great with building relationships with their customers. “It’s so nice to see. They do a great job taking care of the customers, providing good food and customer service.”
This is not the first restaurant of this type Lawrence has owned. She also owned two in Florida before moving to Madison. “We have had a good five years in Madison,” she said. “We are not only an eating place but also a destination place. People will hear about the menu and come from other places, like Birmingham and Tennessee, just to see what we are all about. We do what we do best here, and that keeps bringing people in and bringing them back.”
She said her goal would be to open additional similar restaurants. “We would like to expand and open more locations,” Lawrence said. “I am looking forward to spreading the uniqueness of the Hunt Club.”
The Hunt Club Burgers N Grill is located next to Last Resort Guns at 10871 County Line Road. It is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Find the restaurant on Facebook or call 256-542-3266.