Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Smiling Bison

People in the Sanford area are smiling a lot these days, with good reason: The Smiling Bison has opened just off Magnolia Square in beautiful, historic, downtown Sanford. I've been there several times now, and each experience has been excellent.

We first went there at 5:10 on their opening night, 10 minutes after they opened. I was immediately hooked on their Celery Julep at happy hour prices, and we also tried the Poutine. Wonderful, thick, hand cut potato chips (more like chunks) were perfectly cooked, topped with a hearty and flavorful mushroom gravy and Canadian cheese curds.
We kept going, splitting a Roast Beef Sandwich which was very good. I loved the stone ground mustard and the bun. But most of all, I was amazed by the mushroom ketchup--OMG is that great.

On our second visit, besides some great craft cocktails again, we tried appetizers. I had the pickled shrimp. The picture does not do it justice. Tender shrimp were lightly pickled which gave them a very interesting flavor with wafts of bay, lemon, coriander, and other flavors. It was great.
Meanwhile, Tommy had the Zellwood Corn Soup. It was also very good, a bit on the sweet side, testament to the sweetness of the corn. It was topped with a Jalapeno Hush Puppie which was a great touch, and equally delicious.
Finally, last night--on our first visit there for the evening, we stopped back later for a drink--I had their "signature" dish, the Bison Burger. OMG. It was cooked perfectly, tender, juicy, flavorful, utterly fantastic. And complimenting that was an excellent "coleslaw"--more like a tender, pickled red cabbage slaw--the flavor was outstanding. 
Tommy had the Rock Shrimp Roll. It was excellent. The shoestring fries were wonderful and accompanied by the aforementioned wonderful mushroom ketchup.
Finally, I must again mention the cocktails. They have a limited bar, but a great variety, and they have excellent craft cocktails. I've had the Celery Julep a number of times and it is really great, a fantastic bourbon with a simple syrup and a celery reduction, very refreshing. 

This place is a real keeper, and a welcome addition to the already great dining and bar scene in downtown Sanford. I know we'll keep going back for the food, the drinks, the ambience, and the friendly atmosphere and helpful staff.

The Smiling Bison Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato