Josh Oakley 

The Smiling Bison

Josh Oakley (photo by Rob Bartlett)

Josh Oakley (photo by Rob Bartlett)

Contrary to popular opinion, the Smiling Bison isn’t named after the herd animal, but for chef Josh Oakley’s hometown of Buffalo, New York. “Serving a bison burger just happened by popular demand,” he says. We’ll take it. The resto is open for lunch now, too, so you can sample the gastropub fare for 12 full hours – until midnight, a blessing in a town lacking in quality late-night comestibles – and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Serving primarily locally sourced, artisanally produced foods, the Smiling Bison’s minimalist dining room speaks to the real star of the show: the food. “Responsibly made foods, prepared by people who care, will always taste better and make you feel better,” says Oakley. “We introduce our diners to new ingredients and cooking techniques they may not have seen before. It’s always fun when a guest steps outside of their comfort zone and ends up falling in love with a dish they didn’t expect to like.” What do we like? Addictive poutine with raw milk cheese curds and maitake mushrooms, a killer Scotch egg, and a duck-lovers pizza topped with duck confit and a duck egg. Take that, Pizza Hut.

745 Bennett Road, 407-898-8580; $$

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