The Smiling Bison's food, drinks, service and atmosphere make me, well, smile. We had a fun, relaxing time on a recent visit to the Orlando eatery's new Sanford location, and would recommend the top notch food to anyone.
The appetizers, or "bar snacks", were inventive and delicious. You must order the Chorizo Scotch Egg. It was unlike any scotch egg I have had, with a light, crispy exterior, paired with a delicious sauce and avocado puree. The Rye "Corn Dog", with rye-battered house-made beer brat, pickles and coriander mustard, is also tops on our list. I could eat the full-flavored brat by itself, but really loved the corn breading as well.
My favorite entree was the Shrimp & Grits, a different take on the classic dish than I have ever seen. The delicious, local Bradley's stone ground grits were topped with Gulf Shrimp, corn, okra, tomato and tasso ham. The dish featured a nice, light sauce that brought all the flavors together. At first I was concerned about the $17 price tag, but let me tell you, this Shrimp & Grits is definitely worth that. Smiling Bison also serves a "Spaghetti and Meatballs" unlike any I have had. The dish doesn't use a tomato-based sauce; instead it is cheesy, with tomatoes sprinkled throughout. The quality of the house-made noodles and delicious cheesy flavor hooked us. Of course, we loved the bison, pork and ricotta meatballs too.
We are very impressed with the local sourcing at The Smiling Bison, and the fact that all the
meats are cured and prepared in-house. We also loved the atmosphere - which has been significantly modernized and upscaled from the former Italian-style eatery. Since it was an Italian restaurant, The Smiling Bison is utilizing the pizza oven, with several deep dish offerings, and more to come.
We also had wonderful dessert - Banana Cream Puffs with chocolate and rum sauce - and cocktails - including the yummy Gargleblaster - with dinner. Special thanks to co-owner Ron Thomas for his hospitality, and for Sous Chef Jessie for taking great care of us at the chef's table!
Corner Cafe a Hidden Gem in Sanford