Many restaurants have some sort of defining feature that is noticeable as soon as you walk in. Whether it be a specific smell, the decor, or even the sounds of the place, a first impression will often stick with patrons. Bison and Bourbon has a truly unique factor that’s really striking when you first walk through the archway.
I’m talking about the sheer size of the location.
When I was invited to Bison and Bourbon, I was somewhat aware of the layout. I knew there was an outdoor courtyard that was enclosed with a retractable roof. I knew that the indoor space was large. But apparently I wasn’t totally prepared.
The courtyard is amazing. It seats 90 people and the two side walls are made to look like store fronts from the 1920’s, the period of the original warehouse whose space the restaurant now inhabits. There’s even a small second floor terrace over the outdoor bar. Compared to the outside, the inside is boring. It’s only a renovated two-story warehouse that seats 250 at tables made from reclaimed wood that was found on-site.
So there’s no question that the location contributes to the trendy vibe, but how about the food?
Well, the menu certainly features many interesting options that might make it hard to choose a direction. Two appetizers that I would recommend are the Street Tacos and the Bison Shawarma. The tacos feature a delightfully crispy tortilla shell, the sweetness of the beef is balanced by the spiciness of the chipotle mayo, and the garnishes of radish and microgreens add some nice color. The crispy fried onions add to the great combination of textures that come together to form a perfect bite.
The shawarma is a really interesting menu item as it’s basically a miniature form of a main dish. The dough of the three mini pitas is extremely soft and fluffy, while still being sturdy enough to hold what’s inside. The contents include a shawarma-spiced mixture of chicken, beef, and sautéed onions with a slightly unorthodox medley of parsley, scallions, tahini, and pita chips at the mouth of the pita. This is where everything really comes together nicely. The scallions are an excellent choice, the tahini provides the needed creaminess, and the pita chips are an inspired choice to add some crunch to the mouthfeel of these pockets of greatness.
While each of these comes with three pieces, the kitchen will make it four if you ask. This is a great feature if you’re on a date and don’t want to have to try and split the third one, or if you’re with a larger group of friends and might just want an extra.
In terms of entrees, there’s a fine selection of steaks. That said, the Applewood Smoked Delmonico is the way to go. The smokey flavor definitely sets this steak apart from the average cut you might find at a restaurant. The sear on the outside gives the meat a slight crispiness to go along with the chef’s preferred medium rare on the inside, and the pickled red onions that are served atop the steak are a welcome addition of bright color and acidity. You won’t regret ordering this 14oz masterpiece.
However, there might be those looking for something other than steak. If that’s the case, the Tomahawk Short Ribs is a great option. These ribs are so tender that all you have to do is stick a fork in the meat and it will practically fall off the bone. A tumbleweed of shoestring onions and a delicious chutney of diced onions and tomatoes are both present to allow you to compliment the meat as you see fit.
Both of these dishes are accompanied by roasted seasonal vegetables, a hearty portion of impressively creamy mashed potatoes, and a savory house made barbeque sauce. While there are enough components to make it difficult, getting everything on your fork for one bite is really an experience in true balance of flavors and textures.
If you have room for dessert, I’d recommend the Oreo Cake. This house-made cake includes layers of both chocolate and white chocolate, with the obvious crunch of cookie that gives the cake its name. A scoop of pareve vanilla ice cream is plated alongside the cake and validates the level of comfort behind the classic chocolate and vanilla pairing. It’s the perfect way to end a night out.
With the Gowanus and Park Slope sections of Brooklyn not as popular for kosher establishments, Bison and Bourbon makes itself a true destination. While there may not be any other options in the area, it is certainly the type of place to which you can make multiple trips and try different things each time.
And with all those tables, they’ll almost certainly have one available for you.
Meat - Steakhouse - Waiter Service
Sunday - Thursday:
5 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Saturday: 7:30 p.m. - 11 p.m.
191 7th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Badatz Tartikov Kashrus
Nati Burnside is a freelance writer living in Fair Lawn and is a man of many interests. He can be reached at [email protected]