For years, bison has been touted as a healthier alternative to beef because it’s lower in fat and calories. While not as prevalent on menus as the other red meat, bison has a richer flavor that allows accompanying ingredients to shine.
Recently I set out to find the best bison dishes Kansas City has to offer with zero expectations, but many questions. Will it look and taste just like beef? Will I forever order bison over beef in the future?
Blue Bird Bistro, an established West Side cafe known for local, organic fare, replaces traditional pork sausage with bison sausage on its breakfast menu. The bison sausage is seasoned and flavored like pork breakfast sausage and can be added to omelets or an order of eggs and potatoes. But the bistro at 1700 Summit St. serves it best in an order of biscuits and gravy.
For $3, you can add crumbled bison sausage to a house-made biscuit topped with thick and creamy mushroom gravy. The hearty meal ($8) is enough to satisfy a big morning appetite.
If you’re still recovering from a big night out, try the Morning After ($14), a breakfast scramble with eggs, bison sausage, onions, peppers, cheese and mushrooms. Instead of a side of toast, it comes with two plate-sized slices of French toast drizzled with maple syrup. The sweet and savory combination is guaranteed to surprise and delight even the most hungover diners.
Blue Bird Bistro is open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday.
The bar menu at Affäre, 1911 Main St., is sophisticated yet unpretentious, with items like fried Brie cheese and a house-made pretzel. The bison burger ($12 with fries) comes with Swiss cheese and a spicy, tangy mayonnaise on a pretzel bun.
Perhaps it’s because eating a bison burger is the most familiar comparison to a traditional beef burger, but upon first bite the two meats’ differences were apparent. Bison has a lightness that allows the full-flavored cheese and tangy mayonnaise to stand out. All together, it’s one good burger.
Affäre is open 4:30-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4:30-11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-11 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Sunday.
Located in the downtown Hilton President Hotel, Providence New American Kitchen is known for its bar, the Drum Room. But the restaurant is much more than a cocktail lounge, and the dinner menu proves that.
The stacked Nebraska bison steak and eggs entree ($28) starts with a base of lightly sauteed vegetables topped with grilled, sliced bison hanger steak and finished with an onion ring so thick and perfectly crisp I can’t imagine eating it without a knife and fork. Inside the onion ring sits a lightly poached egg topped with microgreens. It’s the most sophisticated bison dish I tried, and easily the most inventive.
Providence New American Kitchen, 1329 Baltimore Ave., is open for lunch daily 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner hours are 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
My favorite time to belly up to the bar at McCoy’s Public House is mid-afternoon on a Saturday or Sunday. My go-to drink is a refreshing Jim Dandy — a mix of McCoy’s Ginger Shandy and Newcom’s IPA. Bonus: McCoy’s serves great food in addition to great beer, and the bison sliders ($11) are a perfect shared snack or light meal. The Italian twist on an American bar food classic consists of bison meatballs covered in red marinara sauce, basil pesto, mozzarella and arugula.
The sliders are further proof that while bison looks like beef, it has a flavor all its own — and it deserves a shot on the plate, particularly when it comes to burgers.
McCoy’s Public House, 4057 Pennsylvania Ave. in Westport, is open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday.
Welcome to Five Ways, a monthly column celebrating one thing in Kansas City’s culinary scene, five different ways. Do you have a timely topic for Andrea Shores to explore? Send ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.