10 Toronto restaurants that serve bison burgers
The bison burger is a bit of a rare find in Toronto, although other preparations of bison are rapidly filling up the menus of many of Toronto's top-end restaurants. It's an unsurprising trend given the leanness-to-flavor ratio of this tender meat â on average, bison has one-third the fat of beef and fewer calories than even chicken, while providing more readily usable iron. I remember my first visit to Parkdale fixture Stampede Bison Grill, begotten by a powerful need for bison meat, only to be told that they were no longer serving their namesake burger. Heartbreak ensued. But fear not: here are 10 bison burgers that cater to appetites both great and small.
Who says that meat can't be good for you? At this health-oriented cafe in the Junction, your bison burger ($15) is sourced locally to reduce environmental impact. The hand-made patty comes covered in house BBQ sauce and with a side of potato or sweet potato wedges, salad or soup. Add raw cheddar or swiss or pasteurized mozzarella for $2.
W Burger Bar
This gourmet burger joint gets top points for offering not only a fully customizable farm-raised bison burger ($11), but also bison sliders at $4 a pop. The burger is seared on a flat-top so it doesn't dry out, and the unexpected complimentary toppings of beet, cilantro yogurt, and cranberries are worth a visit.
Grindhouse Burger Bar
At Grindhouse, they take their burgers seriously, with a carnivore-friendly menu that includes kangaroo and wild boar. Not to be overlooked is their regular bison burger ($9), tossed in a simple seasoning of kosher salt and black pepper, although the piece-de-resistance is their Big Boy Bison ($14) â 8 oz of naturally-raised, grass-fed and antibiotic-free Collingwood bison on your choice of beer-infused buns.
East-end restaurant Prohibition Gastrohouse features an Alberta-sourced organic bison burger ($15) that can be topped with an array of options like applewood smoked cheddar and bacon. Like W, Prohibition also offers a sampling of bison in mini-slider form.
Four is known for two things: as Far Niente's downstairs little sister restaurant and also for being suited to those watching their figures. The dishes are designed to fit well within restricted calorie diets without sacrificing taste, and their bison burger is no exception. At lunch-time, get a bison patty for $12.50 on a multigrain bun, with jalapeno mayonnaise and tomato, and paired with a simply dressed salad, or spend $10 at dinner on a mini bison burger with avocado and jack cheese; best of all, it'll cost you the least guilt of any burger around.
Little Italy's Utopia Cafel is one of those rare restos that juggles many world cuisines on one expansive menu and manages to execute most dishes quite well. Beyond a spectrum of burritos, nachos and dips, you'll find their grilled, fresh-ground bison burger ($11) on a homestyle bun and slathered in all the usual fixings â including relish, to the chagrin of Burger's Priest chef Shant Mardirosian.
The Academy of Spherical Arts
Enjoy an Ontario-sourced bison burger ($16) cooked up in herbs, spices and--one of my obsessions--truffle oil, then modestly attired in caramelized onions and cheddar on a ciabatta bun. The Academy of Spherical Arts features a great space--play a game of pool on their vintage tables, most bearing a long, regal heritage, and watch gentlemen in suits swirl an olive around their martini glass, but take note that the bison burger is only available on their lunch menu.
Yellow Griffin Pub
Yellow Griffin has a special place in my heart. It was here that I first renewed my vows to meat in burger form, and on my many visits since, it's never disappointed me. While not everyone has enjoyed such an intimate experience with the Griffin, it's important to note that they are the pinnacle of burger customization--they offer a hefty list of pre-conceived burger creations, just waiting for your choice of meat (such as bison for an additional $2.95), perfect for those craving bison but who are perhaps unschooled in which flavors best complement the meat. My enduring favourite is the Healthy Kick: a dose of feta, eggplant, red peppers, and of course, bison.
Known mainly for their extensive beer menu, C'est What also offers their buffalo burger ($13.95)--a half-pound of extra lean bison patty grilled medium and presented on a medium bun. The burger comes with your choice of regular or sweet potato fries and a mouthwatering coffee porter barbecue sauce. I highly recommend the addition of swiss cheese and bacon.
At Woody's, $8.25 gets you a 7 oz. hand-pressed patty of naturally-raised bison meat, fully customizable from a list that includes unusual condiments like wasabi mayo and coleslaw. Add cheeses such as gorgonzola and brie, or satisfy a big appetite with pulled pork or a fried egg for $1. Shill out an extra $3.50 for a small side and can of pop.
The Rebel House
There's one more entry on this list, which cheats a bit by being half-beef, but the Rebel House's bison burger still delivers a hefty 8 oz. portion for $13 with fries or salad. The burger comes dressed with their homemade steak sauce and the usual fixings of lettuce, tomato and the rest. The half and half combo will appeal to those who aren't quite ready to jump head first into the bison burger game.
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