Go Wild

Buffalo Jack’s Offers Unique Exotic Game

By Jordan Mills Pleasant

This is the season for cookouts.  If your buddy invites you over for hotdogs, you might take him up on it.  If your neighbors offer you a hamburger, you might stay a while and visit.  But what if someone offered you a buffalo burger?  Elk chops?  An alligator platter?

That’s exactly what Amanda Noble, server at Buffalo Jack’s Restaurant and Lounge in Covington, Ohio, might offer you if you drop in for a bite to eat.  Buffalo Jack’s specializes in “North American wild and exotic game dinners,” and their menu certainly reflects the diversity of their specialty cuisine.

Buffalo Jack’s offers almost any wild game you can think of, given the season is right.  Choose from antelope, buffalo, venison, elk, wild boar, alligator and even rattlesnake — although for a variety of reasons the rattlesnake is not currently on the menu.  And enjoy your wild game meal in a variety of fashions: they offer sausages made from antelope, buffalo, venison, elk and wild boar, or take a more (or less!) traditional route with a buffalo sirloin or venison chops.

Dwell on the buffalo for moment.  According to the American Bison Exchange, “In comparison with beef, pork and chicken, Bison meat is lower in fat content, cholesterol and calorie level and highest in protein.”  A healthy alternative to other meats.  And there’s no worry about extinction because, “There are in excess of 100,000 Bison in the United States.”

Don’t let all this talk of wild game deter you, however.  According to Manager Becky Furlong, who has 25 years of experience at the restaurant, “Buffalo Jack’s caters to the whole family.  It’s a place to bring to kids.”  They still have the original cherry back bar on one side of the restaurant, and on the other side they have a dining room for a more family-oriented dining experience.

The menu reflects the establishment’s intention to cater to a variety of crowds as well. Buffalo Jack’s offers all the normal dishes one might expect from a family restaurant, in addition to all the more exotic dishes — everything from starters like soups and salads, appetizers, wings, chicken and a variety of fish, including walleye, Atlantic cod, catfish and tilapia.  But if you ask me, the wild game meals are a one-of-a-kind experience — all the other stuff is for you picky eaters out there.

The ambience of Buffalo Jack’s by no means rates second place to the exotic cuisine.  Walk in the door and you’re immediately greeted by Rudy — the actual buffalo mascot, prepared and stuffed by a local taxidermist.  But buffalo is not the only wild game that both makes the menu and adorns the walls at Buffalo Jack’s: decorations range the gamut from the massive polar bear in the dining room to the fox on the wall above the restrooms.  This is a place to not only enjoy wild game, but to enjoy it in the presence of wild game — a completely unique and daunting atmosphere.

Perhaps this intriguing ambience is due, in many ways, to the history of the place.  The building was originally built in 1886.  In the early 1980s, the idea for Buffalo Jack’s occurred to Jack Maier during poker game with some friends, and after 18 months of restoring the building he opened the establishment in 1983.  Since then, business has been booming.

All said and done, however, it’s less the great food and the wonderful environment that keeps patrons coming back.  It’s the service. Manager Becky Furlong takes pride in her staff, and her staff says of her that she’s “absolutely a pleasure to work for.  She makes us and our customers laugh.  She’s wonderful.”

So if you’re in the mood for a new food, a new atmosphere or both, stop in and enjoy yourself.  Right now just happens to be a special time as well: for about another month Buffalo Jack’s will be offering specials with morel mushrooms, a very rare and very tasty delicacy, with a singular texture and flavor prized by chefs worldwide.

When you stop in, be sure and ask about Fred.  Legend has it, Fred is the Buffalo Jack’s ghost in residence.  Although he tends to keep to himself upstairs, he has been known to overturn coffee cups in the night, or send things flying from the shelves during the day.  But don’t let Fred spook you — even if he is sometimes temperamental, my best bet is that he’s a vegetarian!

(Buffalo Jack’s Restaurant and Lounge is located at 137 High Street (which is also State Route 48) in Covington, Ohio, just about twenty minutes north of Dayton.  For more information, directions or any other questions call 937-473-2524 or visit buffalojack.com.)

Reach DCP Editor Jordan Mills Pleasant at editor@daytoncitypaper.com

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Jordan Pleasant has aspirations to dye his hair.

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