Hunt No Further: Three O.C. Restaurants Have Wild Game Plan for Fall

Benjamin Epstein is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to the Times Orange County. Fax information to (714) 966-7790.

Let the game begin.

It's fall, and traditionally that's the time game dishes start making their way onto menus. Game warms the soul as the months get cooler and continues to suggest wildness even after it's been tamed in the kitchen.

North Pole musk ox, kangaroo, lion, peacock, rattlesnake, ostrich and pirarucu, a game fish from the Amazon, are among two dozen wild things available Friday through Sunday at Aurora's ninth annual Festival of the Hunt.

"It's quite a large menu, as large as it can legally be," said owner Leo Holczer, referring to hunting laws and other limits on types of game available; dinner will be served from 5 p.m. Entrees range from $19.50 to $29.50, and combination plates--such as caribou, musk ox and kangaroo, or duck, lion and antelope--are $32. Saturday's dinner is sold out.

Upcoming winemaker dinners also incorporate game dishes.

Blackbuck antelope with three-vegetable polenta and black currant sauce is one of five courses at a dinner Friday at Antoine featuring wines from Burgundy's Maison Louis Latour; the event is $100 per person plus tax and tip, and it begins at 7 p.m. Roast-stuffed wild boar will be served Nov. 15 at the first ever winemaker dinner at Ti Amo Ristorante, a four-course menu focusing on the wines of Northern California winery Clos Du Bois; it starts at 6:30 p.m., and the $55 cost is all-inclusive.

Aurora will serve game dishes throughout November and December. Nightly during December, Antoine will offer a five-course prix fixe game dinner, including blackbuck Texas antelope with red beet puree and port wine sauce; $60 per person excludes tax and gratuity.

Aurora, 1341 S. Euclid Ave., Fullerton. (714) 738-0272.

Antoine, 4500 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach. (714) 476-2001, Ext. 2158.

Ti Amo Ristorante, 31727 Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. (714) 499-5350.


Royal Khyber will hold its first cooking class dinner on Monday at 6:30. The one-night class of five-courses includes vegetable samosa, tandoori chicken and saffron rice pudding. $38 covers instruction, recipes, a sit-down meal with champagne, wine or Indian beer, tax and tip.

1000 N. Bristol St., Newport Beach. (714) 752-5200.


Looking for a different kind of buzz?

Life Services DNA will offer free samples of its Smart Bar drinks, including Blast, Bright Idea, Rise and Shine and Thermo Coffee on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Radisson Plaza Hotel. Smart Bar drinks incorporate vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and nutritional supplements--and, in some cases, caffeine--as an alternative to alcohol.

18800 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine. (714) 951-2673.

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