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Bison Jack's

Update 4/26/13: Bison Jack's is finally closed.

In a word: Going for, not to, the dogs.

The specs: #0748  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Isthmus, 77 Square, Eat Drink Madison, BRAVA, A.V. Club; official web site, Facebook, Twitter, Bison Jack's on Urbanspoon

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JM ate the build-your-own dog with salsa, cheese and onions, and a fountain drink.
Nichole ate the Reuben dog.
We split some Pop Chips.
The bill was $20, or $10/person, plus tip.
JM gave Bison Jack's a B; Nichole gave Bison Jack's a C-, later revised to a B- (see our grading rubric).

This post should be read more like a time capsule than a "review" (that is, even more than most). First, we visited very soon after Bison Jack's grand opening. Indeed, they had only seen two days' worth of custom when we visited and the sheer volume of counter staff indicated that training was still happening instead of business as usual. Despite being Saturday dinner, only two varieties of bread were left. (One was the unfortunately named one. Moral of that story: Bison Jack's responsiveness is what integrity looks like. It's the opposite of overpromise, underdeliver, and it's why Nichole's grade went up a whole letter.)

Bison Jack's menuThat said, Bison Jack's was hopping the night we went. Nothing less than a full-out billboard ad campaign seems to have drawn folks out to the lifestyle center betwixt Middleton and officeparkland. And it was mostly the young (families and singles) who were here for a dog.

Bison Jack's is like a Subway for bison hot dogs. You can get your lean meat served on several breads and follow it down the topping bar requesting every vegetable and rich topping your heart desires.

I <3 Big BratsOn the up side, the hot dogs themselves are excellent. The casing is snappy and the filling is not greasy, yet it scratches that salty itch for tube steak. Bison Jack's chili recently took the gold at a benefit for OccuPaws. Plus JM quite liked the lemonade.

On the down side, the buns we had fell apart, the prices are a little high for even a gourmet hot dog, and Nichole's specialty dog, the Reuben, was too heavily loaded with the goopier toppings of shredded Swiss and Russian dressing. Finally, Bison Jack's is in Middleton. They need to show some local pride and get more mustardiversity on the table.

We didn't get any of the sides other than the Pop Chips (bagged, air-puffed potato crisps). We also forewent dessert knowing that imported custard would likely further diminish our view.

Of course, it's awesome that BJ's is correcting itself as it goes and, given that Subway for hot dogs is a good idea, they have a decent shot at success.

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I've been there 3-4 times now. Once was for a breakfast burrito (that may be short lived based on the response they've been getting). The burrito was huge and filling, but didn't have very much flavor. My side of Green Goddess sauce (all hail) made it much better.

I've also tried the baked fries. These were seasoned, hot, and delicious. Since they are baked, they aren't greasy and they are wonderful (especially with a side of Green Goddess sauce).

I love that they let you try anything and there aren't limits on toppings, which helps me justify the price tag. I'm actually going again tonight to try the Asiago cheese/Rice dog.

Having a different option is good, and I really hope they stay in business.

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