Well that was a pleasant surprise!
Having an opportunity to go on an impromptu date with my bohunk husband last week, I was inspired to try something new. We have several new restaurants that have opened in recent months, and on my list to try are The Strand in Mills/50 district, Scratch in Winter Park, and The Smiling Bison just outside of Baldwin Park.
I looked over the online menus and since I don’t eat a ton of meat, I wasn’t feeling up to trying The Strand which seemed a little burger/chicken/pork heavy. Given our time frame, Scratch was a little far for us, so The Smiling Bison was the winner!
I had tried a desert offering from the Bison at a food and wine event in Downtown Orlando a few weeks ago, and it was quite good. It was their pretzel bread pudding with peanut butter and chocolate chips. It wound up winning the best dish award for the whole event, so I think these guys are pretty proud, and rightfully so.
Before fully committing to eat at a restaurant that takes great pride in its very meaty dishes (you see the chef, Joshua Oakley, hails from the Ravenous Pig) I had to look over the menu online. There were many veggie/seafood options that I found more than tempting. Among the top of the list were the Caraway Soft Pretzel, the Poutine (crispy potato wedges, gravy, cheese curds and pickled matake mushrooms), Low Country Pickled Shrimp, Kale Ceasar, Grouper Cheek Roll and what I ultimately ordered, the Shrimp Meatballs on Squid Ink Pasta. Adam got the Maduro Braised Pork “Mofongo”.
We started with the Poutine-my new favorite everything. I can’t really call myself a vegetarian, because after I sopped up all the gravy of the Poutine, I dove a fork straight into that Mofongo with no concern for the sweet piggy who gave his life for us. I was devoid of regret. The Mofongo was delicious, placed on top of a smoky black bean puree, the plantains were moist and crunchy all at the same time, topped with some cilantro and crème fraiche and well worth my sinful transgression. My pasta was so lemon-y and garlic-y, the shrimp meatballs tender and sweet.
After all that, we ordered desert and coffee. The coffee was from the guys over at Lineage, found at the fabulous East End Market, and was very nice. Adam couldn’t resist the aforementioned bread pudding and I’m quite glad he felt so compelled.
The Smiling Bison also has a great lunch and late night menu, beers a plenty, and more than friendly service. Location is a “meh” given its located in the old Red Light Red Light building on Bennett Rd., but it’s completely forgivable given the spectacular dining experience.
Ambiance-3 out of 5 Sporks
Service-4 out of 5 Sporks
Food-4 out of 5 Sporks
Drinks-4 out of 5 Sporks
Total-3.75 out of 5 Sporks
1 Spork=you’ll want to eradicate the experience from memory, 2 Sporks=if you don’t like food, you might like this, 3 Sporks=take your friends, maybe this time you’ll keep them, 4 Sporks=take a date, a date you want to end tomorrow, 5 Sporks=you can die now, you have achieved your bliss (not granted lightly).
Check out Smiling Bison’s website-www.smilingbison.com
UPDATE 5/12/2014-Because this was my first attempt at a restaurant review, I am going to revisit this restaurant when I have a little more focus and can take more pics. I hope to revise this review soon.