In Dining

No, that's not cow tongue. That's geoduck - and it's a pretty scary sight.

13 scariest dishes in Milwaukee

Season's eatings! The weather may be getting colder, but Dining Month on OnMilwaukee is just cooking up, dishing out your winning picks in this year's Best of Dining poll. Dining Month is brought to you by Fein Brothers, your premier food service equipment and supply dealer in Wisconsin since 1929. Congratulations to all of the winners, and happy eating for all those who voted! See all the winners for the month so far here.

It's Halloween season, and that means everyone's decked in their scariest outfits and heading out to see the scariest movies in theaters. But why stop there? Why not spread some terror to the dinner table, as well?

Here are 13 dishes that might give you a fright while skimming the menu – whether it's a gory ingredient, a killer amount of calories or cholesterol or a bloody stab wound to the bank account. Or maybe you've overcome some of these food fears; in that case, congratulations on your iron nerves and steel stomach.

1. Brain masala curry

Food phobia: Gross ingredient

Found at: Anmol

Look, we have no doubt this curry from Anmol is delicious. Our own Lori Fredrich sings the restaurant's praises for its unique curries and knockout na'an. That being said, the first word of the dish is brain – goat brain, to be particular, boiled and fried in a tomato and yogurt masala – so there's no way we won't imagine the scene from "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" when we see this on the menu.

According to food writer Ed Smith, cooked brains can taste like "slightly set custard or runny scrambled eggs," so that ... that doesn't actually help much at all, nope. Unless the virus from "Walking Dead" breaks out, this might just be a bridge too offal.

2. Too Hot For A Normal Person Wings

Food phobia: Face-melting heat

Found at: Jonny Hammers

You might think the name of these wings is just some fun bar goofing around, but if anything, it might undersell how hot these little nuggets of napalm are. They're too hot for normal people. They're too hot for dragons. They're too hot for literal hellspawn.

One bite, and I was done eating these wings – and had just begun hiccuping and coughing and crying. I couldn't even lick my fingers of the sauce because I was too scared to keep burning my mouth. The cook at Jonny Hammers told me that it's technically more potent than pepper spray, and I believe him.

3. Geoduck

Food phobia: I mean ... just look at it

Found at: RuYi

Geoduck is a, uh, peculiar brand of saltwater clam that looks like ... um, it kind of resembles ... uh, well, whatever you think it looks like, it doesn't look appetizing. Plus, its name is actually pronounced like "gooey duck," which you can feel your throat closing up in disgusted horror just saying it. So what does the geoduck have going for it?

According to Eater, the clam is "as sweet as it gets for something from the ocean," with an almost crunchy snap to it when served raw. At RuYi, one of the few places to serve the peculiar sea creature, you can choose from the body – the part hanging out of the shell – or the mantle, which is the meaty segment hiding inside the shell. Plus, some claim the clam is an aphrodisiac, but that might just be because anything and everything looks good compared to this weird-looking tongue tumor.

4. The prime rib wall of fame challenge

Food phobia: Massive meat mountain

Found at: Ward's House of Prime

If you're going to a steakhouse, you might as well go all out. And at Ward's, they mean ALL. OUT. The restaurant has a "wall of fame" section of the menu, featuring special massive cuts ranging from the 40-ounce "Baby Dane" to the 125-ounce "Holy Schmidt" and more.

Those can't even hold an artery-clogged candle next to the current record holder, however, a 360-ounce steak called the "Good Golly Miss Molly," named after Molly Schuyler, who ate the beast – 22.5 pounds for those not great at math conversions – in just an hour and a half. Feel free to try to beat her mark, though you'll probably be more cow than man by the end of it.

5. Black pudding

Food phobia: "BLOOD!"

Found at: Country Clare

The Full Irish Breakfast at the outstandingly authentic County Clare inn and pub would be intimidating in its own right just from all the food it comes with, from eggs to bangers, rashers and more. But it especially graduates to inspiring culinary cowardice thanks to the inclusion of both black and white pudding.

White pudding is pretty standard – a sausage patty comprised typically of meat, fat, bread, suet and oatmeal – but black pudding is where things turn, taking the same recipe ... and then adding blood. It's very traditional eats in the U.K., but for most diners, they'll probably think it's more native to Transylvania.

6. Solly's butter burger

Food phobia: Artery attack

Found at: Solly's

It may be a local legend – and mighty delicious – but there's no denying the terror of seeing your first Solly's burger arrive in front of you, just sitting there in a literal pool of melted butter.

Doctors note it's one of the rare moments where you can feel your stomach and your heart cry at the same time – though probably for different reasons.

7. Durian

Food phobia: Pungent perfume

Found at: Pacific Produce

This may not exactly be a Milwaukee dish, but it needs to be added simply because – put as politely as possible – durian smells like farts. It's a big, spiky fruit native to Southeast Asia that smells like a garbage can of nightmares after a torrential downpour that then marinated in the heat for maximum nose murder.

Apparently, once you get past the nose-numbing odor, the actual fruit itself is quite tasty, so give it a try for yourself. Just maybe cut it open outdoors.

8. The Octoburger challenge

Food phobia: Artery attack (again)

Found at: AJ Bombers

What could be more terrifying to your heart values than a cheeseburger literally swimming in a baby pool of butter and grease? How about EIGHT cheeseburgers slapped in between two buns?

Those are the stakes in AJ Bombers' Octoburger challenge, a 2.2-pound burger beast that at first we weren't convinced wasn't just a Photoshop prank. But no, it's real – and it's terrifying.

9. Hot pot

Food phobia: Overwhelming options

Found at: Huan Xi

There's a lot to be wary of when headed to hot pot at Huan Xi, from discovering your table is filled with small broth burners to operate to understanding the process of hot pot (essentially Asian fondue). And that's all before you look at the menu, which is a list of seemingly all of creation for your dipping pleasure – and all parts of all of creation, including various tripes and even that dreaded black pudding component: BLOOD!

For those cautious about exploring the culinary unknown, Huan Xi provides a lot to overcome. But as we learned in a recent Burning Through Brew City, take the trip, discover a new dining experience and then croon some karaoke afterwards.

10. Strauss veal duo

Food phobia: Misleading moniker

Found at: Bacchus

I'll never forget the first time I sampled sweetbreads. I was at a Brazilian-style steakhouse, being served slabs of meat by hustling gauchos, when one came up to our table with a whole lineup of juicy little nuggets called "sweetbreads." Considering my insatiable sweet tooth, I had to try one – and I quickly learned that sweetbreads are neither sweet nor bread.

For the uninitiated, sweetbreads are throat and pancreas meat – I can see why they went with "sweetbreads" as the name – and if you ask a foodie, they'll likely say they're quite delicious, with a tender and creamy texture. But if you're not a foodie, there's a good chance your throat just clammed up hearing that pancreas meat can taste creamy. Still, they're often considered quite the delicacy – for instance, at Bacchus, which serves veal sweetbreads with veal medallions alongside caramelized red onions and a mushroom ragu as a part of its Strauss veal duo. Feel free to give them a try; at least somebody warned you, unlike some unlucky people I know.

11. Liver and onions

Food phobia: Timeless terror

Found at: The Packing House

Liver and onions has been a classic dinner table dread for generations. Even those who like liver and onions have had to suppress memories of the dish overcooked into oblivion – because if you're going to digest a digestive organ, it might as well be cooked tolerably. And also it's liver.

So whether you're a veteran who's learned to live with liver and onions, or a young whippersnapper who's just weirded out by eating the organ, people of all ages can agree that this is one plate that'll have your stomach puckered at least a bit. (But hey, at The Packing House, at least they top it all with bacon – and you know what they say about bacon!)

12. Crickets

Food phobia: Creepy cuisine

Found at: Wisconsin State Fair

Most people don't even want to be in the same room as a bug, much less put them into their body. But that's exactly what happened this past summer at the Wisconsin State Fair, where the brave folks at All Things Jerky topped their nachos with cheese, salsa ... and these chirpy little critters.

The only thing more terrifying? That apparently they weren't that bad! Food expert Lori Fredrich tried the gnarly-sounding nachos during the annual Sconnie celebration and found the buggers to be quite tasty, noting if you got past the fact that you were swallowing a bug, you were treated to a satisfyingly nutty flavor – and a whole lot of protein. That's a mighty big if, though – like a size-72 font, bold and all caps if.

Maybe you'd be better off sampling crickets in a beer, which was exactly Water Street Brewery's thinking when it made a special chocolate stout last year with cricket flour. What better way to sneak a bug into your diet than with a tasty, frothy brew? Unfortunately, Water Street stopped brewing the special beer, but we'll keep this all in mind for when the global food supply dwindles to nothing and we need to start subsisting on these crunchy critters.

13. Japanese Waygu steak

Food phobia: Wallet worry

Found at: Carnevor

Unless you're a vegetarian, there's nothing to be scared of when it comes to an impeccable slab of meat like a Japanese Waygu "A-5" filet mignon – and even if you are a vegetarian, this dream cut (fittingly found at Carnevor) might just flip you into a carnivore for a night. The nightmares will come, however, when you see your check and see the 6 oz. steak alone just cost you $161. My bank account just trembled in fear and needs a hug.

Luckily, if you're watching your wallet, you could also pinch a few pennies and try the 34-ounce domestic "A-3" tomahawk cut at Rare Steakhouse, which is just a mere $140. Look at those savings!



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