Before you strut into the new high-end steakhouse on Coleman Boulevard and settle into one of the plush, bright lounge chairs in the center of the room, look down. “In Minneapolis we laid them one by one — 340,000 pennies,” says Butcher & the Boar executive chef Tommy Begnaud. “This time we found a guy to fabricate us the tiles.”
Formerly the home of Southerly Restaurant and Patio next to the old Southern Season, Butcher & the Boar opens to the public this Fri. Aug. 30 at 4 p.m. The restaurant has been renovating the huge building at 730 Coleman — decked out with two private rooms, a cocktail lounge, a wall-to-wall bar, formal dining room, smokehouse, “the biggest kitchen in Charleston,” outside cigar lounge, and a patio with more than 120 seats — for more than a year, and they say they’re ready to open to the public this week.
Almost every facet of the concept is over-the-top, from the Abe Lincoln floor to the main dining room’s 400-bottle wine display. The steaks will cost you at least a Grant, and Begnaud says the Minneapolis flagship carries more than 300 bourbons.
The Charleston location will have about 270, including Pappy iterations and other rare reserves. Begnaud says their biggest seller is a “Flintstone” like dish, the smoked beef long rib that’s slow smoked for 14 hours, salt and sugar cured, served with tortilla slaw. It’ll run you $49 at the Charleston location, and $59 in Minneapolis. “We sell about 100 of those a night,” says Begnaud.
This is only the Boar’s second location — the chef says they were looking to expand, and they wanted a city comparable in size to their Midwest gem. After some market R&D, and with family retiring to the Lowcountry, Beguaud says restaurant owner Doug Van Winkle was ready to bring the meat and bourbon to Charleston.
The new restaurant has a lot going on, so we decided to break down the highlights (and what we’re most looking forward to) below. Check it out:
The meaty menu
The 75-seat main dining room menu veers high-end steakhouse meets charcuterie focused wine bar. Begnaud says at any given time they have about $40,000-$60,000 worth of meat in their cooler. He says that in two days last week the kitchen ground about 1,500 pounds worth of sausage meat, which was then moved to the outside smoker. You’ll be able to choose from head cheese, terrines, pates, salamis, summer sausage, and much more. There’s also a handful of seafood and salads, but why wouldn’t you order the truffled trumpet royale mushrooms and 16 oz. wagyu ribeye?
The dog-friendly patio
The 125-seat patio has its own more casual menu (prices in the $12-$15 range), plus a menu just for your pup. This is where all the weekend football viewing magic will happen, we imagine — you can order a burger, pint, and a shot for $15. Dogs will have a trio of treats, like Muttloaf with meat and mashed potato “icing” or a ‘pupsicle’ made with a bully stick, and their ‘handler’ will be able to order a cocktail pairing on the human end of things. Begnaud points out that if you want to skip a shot and a beer, you can sip rose and order peel and eat shrimp out here, too. The world is your oyster — there’s even an ornate oyster shell wall and fountain in the corner of the patio, to remind you we ain’t in Minnesota any more.
Begnaud was born and raised in The Gopher State, but his family roots go deep down to the bayou. He channels his Louisiana heritage in a handful of menu items, but the Cajun/Creole leanings are most apparent during Sunday brunch, one thing that is not offered in their flagship location, “because of size restrictions there.” But the Charleston kitchen, with three pastry chefs, a butchering team, and a dish pit the size of a tiny house, is fully equipped for a crazy busy brunch rush. Served family style, the Boar’s brunch will start with house-made pastries and huge yogurt parfaits, followed by mains like shrimp and crawfish etoufee served over grits and smoked beef brisket, with sides from a fresh watermelon salad to duck confit hash. They’ll have $10 bottomless mimosas, and finish things off with coffee and beignets. A zydeco band will take the stage outside, with music funneled inside on speakers. “People love to brunch on Sunday, to imbibe on a Sunday morning and just laugh, sing, dance,” says Begnaud.
Big bathrooms, bigger parking
In a town saturated with restaurants, sometimes it’s the little things — the bathrooms are massive, like the restaurant itself, and the women’s room has a full fledged makeup counter. Begnaud estimates that in the complex where they’re located, there are about 300 parking spots, most of which are empty come dinner time.
“If you’re spending your hard earned money you better be having a damn good time,” laughs Begnaud. “You’re paying $50 for steak and $12 for an old fashioned — if you spend 70 or 80 bucks at a steakhouse and you leave feeling ‘meh,’ I don’t want that!” Begnaud says that service wise “we are absolutely as polished as Charleston Grill or Oak or Halls” just with a little more funk and punk, if you will. “We want the personality of our staff to shine,” he says. A James Beard semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant in 2013, Butcher & the Boar takes itself just seriously enough, says Begnaud. And they’re just about ready to smoke up some meat for the Charleston crowd.
“In my experience opening restaurants, you only get one chance,” says Begnaud, gesturing to the fully renovated, almost-finished space. “I’ve opened enough restaurants where they’re touching up the paint and running out the back while they’re opening up the front door!” Begnaud says mid-week they’ll host family and friends, and Friday Aug. 30, boy howdy they’re searing up steaks for those not laboring this Labor Day weekend. “We’re here, we’re confident and optimistic,” says Begnaud. “I think the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding is freaking good.”
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