Only at Bull City Burger and Brewery will you find patrons eagerly munching on food ridden with bugs.
This March has marked the second annual Exotic Meat Month at BCBB, and the quirky campaign has helped the restaurant see a notable spike in business, said BCBB owner Seth Gross. BCBB, which normally sells local pasture-raised beef burgers and veggie burgers, spends the month of March rotating through more than 15 unusual meats, all of which are specially prepared with sauces and toppings that complement the exotic patty. This year’s exotic meats include reindeer, python, llama and rocky mountain oysters—also known as bull testicles.
“There are a whole lot of people out there—whether it’s for bragging rights, or they really love a certain exotic meat—who want to eat each burger,” Gross said. “A lot of people come and say, ‘I came here to try something weird, but it tasted really good, and now I’m a fan.’”
Part of BCBB’s mission focuses on supplying pasture-raised beef, said BCBB Restaurant Manager Scott Sumrall, adding that the restaurant imported most of its exotic meats from American pastures. Although their beef is local, not all of the meats could be found in the Triangle area—the alligator is from Florida, and the bugs for the “bug burger” come from an organic bug farm. All of the meat was raised in the United States, as BCBB removed Kangaroo—an item that got mostly negative reviews from last year’s Exotic Meat Month—from this year’s lineup.
Only one type of exotic burger is sold at a time, Gross said. Between 70 and 80 burgers of a certain meat are prepared and sold, and the next meat in line is only offered until all of the previous patties are plated. The meats range from tamer options like bison and buffalo to the wilder selection of reindeer and python.
“[Exotic Meat Month] is also about education. We are trying to raise a level of awareness—what is weird to us is normal elsewhere,” Gross noted.
“Exotic” may border on “weird” in the bug burger, which is topped by a host of cooked scorpions, larvae, crickets, mozzarella cheese and chile piquin.
“I ordered the bug burger mostly for the story afterwards,” said Joe Feinberg, a diner who purchased the bug burger last Thursday. “I half expected for there to be bugs cooked into the meat, but when it was brought to me, they were right on top, staring back at me. They didn’t have a taste really—more of a texture. I had to forget they were there to finish the burger, and the ketchup helped a lot.”
Sumrall said the bug burger garnered mixed reactions, noting that some people were turned off by the photograph of the burger that the restaurant posted on its Facebook page.
Carrboro resident Wilson Sayre said the alligator burger, which was topped with a bell pepper, creole sauce and bibb lettuce, provided a more familiar flavor. “It tastes like a turkey burger,” she said.
BCBB is no stranger to quirkiness in both its operations and campaigns. Gross’ business card, for example, calls him the “Grandé Burger Flipper & Beer Taster.” BCBB has teamed up with the local business Dogstar Tattoos in a campaign that allows customers to get 26 percent off all of their purchases for life if they get a permanent tattoo that includes one of the restaurant’s logos.
It is distinctions like these and Exotic Meat Month that give BCBB more space in the press and, therefore, more customers, which ultimately allows the restaurant to better serve the community and local farmers, Sumrall said.
Sumrall also noted that there will be a special meat on of the final day of the month that is not yet listed on the menu, though he would not divulge what the meat will be.
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