I’m fairly sure Bison Bar is the first place in Ireland to provide anything resembling proper American BBQ and even my use of the the word ‘American’ glosses over the huge regional differences that exist between the various traditions, not only between states but within them too. I don’t claim to know very much about these distinctions other than the food on the menu here focuses mainly on the Texan style with the exception of their pulled pork, which hails from Memphis, and the ribs via St Louis, Missouri. I’m surprised though that, while terroir and regionality have become fetishised to near parody (I’m looking at you Noma et al), such a vibrant and varied food culture has not become more popular abroad than it is.
As the name implies Bison Bar is also a whiskey bar, something we didn’t realise as we traipsed in with a kid in a buggy; thankfully we were the only customers in so we weren’t in anyone’s way. Pretty much everything on the menu is based around the holy trinity of fat, salt and smoke and is all the better for it. My hefty portion of that toughest of cuts, brisket, had been reduced to thin, yielding slices by a 13-hour slow roast but the standout was the pulled pork with a more assertive dose of smoke: each bite infused with a gorgeous note of charcoal. There were also sides of beans, all sweet and smokey (noticing a theme?), spiked with bacon and hand cut chips with a fantastic chipotle mayo, which my son ended up eating with a spoon. The potato salad and coleslaw were less successful and just made us wish we’d ordered more of those beans.
So as you can tell, you get a lot of food in this place and while it’s definitely not somewhere to go to if all you’re looking for is a light lunch, I didn’t feel overstuffed at all, especially given the vast quantities of protein piled on my tray (there’s no plates here). As I said, I’m hardly an expert in barbeque but it feels like the kitchen, or more precisely whoever operates the in-house smoker, really knows what they’re doing here and this is a great addition to the food scene of the city.