Chef Martin Heuser's Love "Affäre" with Bison
I was fortunate to be invited by Page Communications to a tasting that turned into a full-blown, scrumptious dinner of supposedly small bites. I am quite sure I have never eaten as much bison before in my life, total, as I did on Thursday. It's not a meat I normally try, other than several burgers at Ted's Montana Steakhouse which escaped from Kansas City a while back.
I think Chef Heuser has several key differentiators as he sources and creates his dishes. The first one is the meat he buys -- he treks to Lazy D Heart Ranch near Westmoreland (where?), Kansas and only buys bulls which are 24-28 months old. It's dry aged, just like beef. He uses everything he buys -- nothing goes to waste. That said, when this carload (not talking railroad car here) of bison is gone, it's gone for a while. Second, he's very creative and combines items you wouldn't expect -- like blueberry corn salsa with a brown ale brat, which he makes himself of course or substituting cherries for mushrooms in bison Bourguignonne, Third, by using traditional German techniques like braising, often more than once, the meat does, literally, melt. Fourth, many of the veggies and herbs come from his and wife Katrin's garden, picked the day it's served.
And just to share my knowledge: three things I didn't know: German chocolate cake is NOT a native dish by any means of Germany (developed in the 1870s by a guy in Michigan -- whose last name was actually German, like my last name is actually Becicka). Bison has 30% fewer calories than beef and more protein and iron - those Native Americans knew a good thing. Finally, the restaurant has a cozily simple and shaded brick courtyard in back with a big tree, perfect for hanging out.
Affäre has steadily built its clientele despite being in the heart of the mess on Main and when the trolley is dropping folks off there, I think the crowds will multiply. As it is, with lunch, an excellent happy hour, and very seasonal dishes, this IS an Affäre to remember.
Sorry. (Some things are just too easy.)