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Bison and Bourbon Restaurant. Quality Frozen Foods

My professional fellow trailblazer and contemporary, Menachem Lubinsky of Lubicom.

This past Monday night we went to the soft opening of Bison and Bourbon Restaurant, spectacular new Kosher digs in Gowanus Brooklyn. Hosted by Quality Frozen Foods, with the valuable collaboration of Gabriel Boxer a.k.a. the Kosher Guru. Just how spectacular? You must experience it for yourself. Suffice it to say, I am taking my three daughters (one daughter and two daughters in law), whose birthdays are very close, to Bison and Bourbon in two weeks PG. One of the restaurant’s guests exclaimed enthusiastically, “Isn’t it great that the new owners found this place just as is and moved right in?” A bewildered double take at him told us he was not kibitzing. Would that we would move more often right into the perfect place at the perfect time! Jaw-dropping gig. Gigantic, magnificent, hip, youthful, grand. The feeling of awe thankfully settles as the evening progresses. General Manager Andrea adds an impossible-to-miss and impossible-not-to-love dash of tall, dark, handsome and Italian, with a brave attempt at French (practice, practice!) Bison and Bourbon gives you the full measure of just how far Kosher Dining has moved up in the world, and how the Kosher Public is not a captive audience anymore.

I found Quality Frozen Foods Hosting last night’s event a very slick move on their part, as they will remain inextricably linked to the opening of Bison and Bourbon. VIP treatment for 150 guests: pretty impressive! Father Sofer and son Matis Sofer understand not just PR, but hospitality, down the line, and take it to an extravagant level. The apt name they picked for their brand is richly earned. Case in point: they understand perfectly that those gorgeous giveaway food boxes guests receive on their way out, and the great dinner guests are treated to will get them something that money just can’t buy: Good will, high regards for their business acumen, and unmitigated praise for their obliging amiable manner. (Matis, please share your dear father’s story about Rothschild and the cheese blintzes; I only caught the punchline: not very helpful). Son Matis is much more than just a chip off the old block: young, talented and gracious, fully on par, and poised to take the commanding family business to a global level.

One of the MCs, in a great desire to pay tribute to my, hmmm, professional seniority, called me the grandmother of Upscale Kosher Dining, in his mike for all to share. Shudders and yes, applause, all around. It reminded me, very briefly I assure you, I had to finish my 4-needle sock-knitting project. Grandma still has a lot of butt-kicking to do! But thanks buster, at least you didn’t say stepmother!

As a pioneer in the arid and thankless wasteland the Kosher Dining market was almost two generations ago, I can’t help looking around me at the Magic of Social Media, something we at Levana Restaurant (alas closed, after 32 years of business) would have given anything for. We typed letters announcing our unforgettable wine pairing dinners, our events, our menu changes, etc, to a mailing list of about 10.000 customers, and sent them via snail mail, and later via email. Often we placed an ad in national publications, several thousand dollars for a measly 6 square-inch ad. Yes, those were our humble beginnings. We were born too soon but, I’m told almost daily, we did a great job of putting Kosher Dining on the map: something to be very proud of!

The setting at Bison and Bourbon being so grand and so conducive to partying and mingling, it seems to me the food is good, yes, but not too urgent a matter to address for the owners. By the way, no bison in sight anywhere, so the whimsical name is fun but wholly random. Reasonably, rather than outrageously, expensive, interesting well priced drinks, and efficient and professional service. Another plus is the very easy access by public transportation. A quick look at their menu will inform you that the management might view salad as a consolation prize for wussies (the salad we were served was below ordinary), the steak was good (not a smidgen above good), the grilled branzino en papillotte was fresh and delicious, the accompaniments, if four slivers of potato could be called that, scant to put it kindly. But the dessert? Ah, that’s where they lost me: a kindergarten arts-and-crafts project; that bread pudding made us smile indulgently. May I recommend some improvements in the menu and the food preparation, more salad offerings, for both first course and main course (what do you know, some people might not welcome meat at every meal!), some decent-size accompaniments so we are not always “condemned” to order a side dish and risk running unnecessarily higher tabs? Anything that’s easy for you will do: Mixed greens, rice, potatoes, to name a few options, just as long as they are not wallflowers on our plate? Oh, I almost forgot: A pastry chef please! Desperately needed. Very easy improvements to make, and they will make all the difference. Heaven Knows Bison and Bourbon is blessed with a sprawling and gleaming kitchen. Yes: Good food does count, always, everywhere, even in a gorgeous place like Bison and Bourbon.

Oh boy the memorable events you could host at Bison and Bourbon! I believe they are equipped for about 250 people, with seating on two levels and a charming outdoors space.

A quick list of – and shoutout to – some of the Premium Brands Quality Frozen Foods included in their beautiful gift boxes: My friend Sharon and I burst out laughing when we read on a bag: Fried Onion Rings made with diced onions: Is this Jewish Humor or something? Just checking: it sounded like a brain teaser of some sort!
Weitz snacks
Eatpops (fantastic all-natural frozen pop new-kid-on-the-block)
Jack’s Gourmet 
Dlz dips (sorry couldn’t make out exact brand)
Unger
Chopsies
Pereg
Noam Gourmet
Dynasea
Bodek

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