You don’t have to be a hunter to get a taste of wild game in East Texas.

A few chefs in Longview, Kilgore and Tyler are introducing new and wider audiences to wild game through their creative takes on classic fare.

From bison burgers and elk chops to venison meatloaf and chili, a wide variety of dishes can be found on menus in the area.

Here’s a look at a few places where you can enjoy wild game fine dining.

Café Barron’s: The Bison Burger

Café Barron's

At Café Barron's, the Bison Burger features a juicy bison patty served on a jalapeño cheese sourdough bun with pepper Jack cheese and poblano mayo. It’s garnished with traditional hamburger toppings. (Michael Cavazos/ETX View Photo)

When Café Barron’s first introduced the bison burger to Longview some 20 years ago, the restaurant owners didn’t know at the time that the menu item would quickly become one of its most popular.

“It’s been a huge seller for us,” said Brandon Barron, who operates the restaurant and its adjacent store with his wife, Lacy.

Barron’s serves the juicy bison patty on a jalapeño cheese sourdough bun with pepper Jack cheese and poblano mayo. It’s garnished with traditional hamburger toppings, including lettuce and tomatoes.

“It’s really, really good. It’s kind of messy, but it’s really good,” Barron said, noting the bun brings the entrée together.

The bison meat, which Barron’s sources from Western Buffalo Co. in South Dakota, doesn’t taste gamy,and it uses the same cooking process as regular beef. It’s seasoned simply with a bit of salt and pepper.

But the meat is healthier than traditional beef, Barron said. It’s more on par, he said, with turkey breast or chicken breast in terms of fat content.

“If you didn’t see buffalo on the menu, you would think it’s just a regular burger with a great bun, but you’re eating half the fat and half the calories,” he said.

“It’s a little guilt-free,” Lacy Barron added.

To try the bison burger, visit Café Barron’s at 405 W. Loop 281 in Longview. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner Tuesday through Saturday.

Jack Ryan’s: The Elk Chop

Jack Ryan's

At Jack Ryan’s, the Elk Chop is served with bacon, caramelized onion and bleu cheese potato; ginger sake marinated pineapple; and a cabernet demi-glace. (Michael Cavazos/ETX View Photo)

Elk, pineapple and bleu cheese are sheer harmony.

That combination of unique flavors has made the elk chop among the most popular items on Jack Ryan’s menu.

“Most people don’t know that pineapple and bleu cheese are perfect together,” Jack Ryan’s co-owner Brad Ebey said. “The acid in that pineapple cuts into the meatiness of the elk perfectly. It’s just a well-balanced dish all together.”

Owners Brad and Wes Ebey opened Jack Ryan’s Steak and Chophouse in Kilgore nine years ago, bringing top-notch service and expanded fine dining to East Texas.

Their kitchen of professionally trained chefs utilizes a sous vide cooking method for all of the proteins, including the elk chop, on Jack Ryan’s menu. Sous vide is a technique that uses lower, precisely regulated temperatures and longer cooking times to produce results that can’t be achieved using any other cooking method.

The elk chop, for example, cooks for an hour and a half.

“It’s really hard to cook elk,” Ebey said. “You cannot overcook it one smidgen.”

At Jack Ryan’s, the elk chop is served with bacon, caramelized onion and bleu cheese potato; ginger sake marinated pineapple; and a cabernet demi-glace.

Jack Ryan’s sources its elk from Colorado, and it doesn’t taste gamy. The sous vide cooking method also helps lock in the flavors of the protein.

“Once you taste it, there’s nothing like it,” Ebey said.

To try the elk chop, visit Jack Ryan’s Steak and Chophouse at 119 N. Longview St. in Kilgore. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations are preferred but not required.

Texas Music City Grill: The Venison Meatloaf

Texas Music City Grill and Smokehouse

The venison meatloaf at Texas Music City Grill is prepared similarly to traditional meatloaf and topped with a smoky sauce. It’s served with two sides. (Michael Cavazos/ETX View Photo)

For large portions and down home comfort food with a twist, Texas Music City Grill in Tyler offers foods to please diners.

That includes the smoked venison meatloaf, which is among the restaurant’s staple entrées.

Similar to other types of meat, venison also offers health benefits compared with beef. It’s high in protein but lower in fat. It’s also low in sodium but rich in vitamins and minerals.

The venison meatloaf at Texas Music City Grill is prepared similarly to traditional meatloaf and topped with a smoky sauce. It’s served with two sides. Texas Music City Grill in Tyler also offers another venison item on its menu – venison chili, which is topped with green onions and cheese and served with cornbread.

The home-style food at Texas Music City Grill can be enjoyed while listening to live music at the restaurant, which features a robust live performance calendar that can be found on its website.

To try the smoked venison meatloaf, visit Texas Music City Grill at 5424 Old Jacksonville Highway in Tyler. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday; and 10:30 a.m. to midnight Saturday.

 
 

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