Binging on beef at Bobcat Bonnie’s


My boyfriend and I frequently travel around the state for concerts, and every time I tell my mom we’re going to Ferndale, Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo, she excitedly suggests we should stop at Bobcat Bonnie’s for its array of options that suit both of our diets. We haven’t made it out to any of those locations yet since we’re usually running behind and opt to pick up something quicker instead, but now that the Michigan chain has a location in Lansing, we could finally determine if the food is as good as my mom has hyped it up to be.

The restaurant’s menu is eclectic, aiming to provide “upscale” food at a “good value,” owner Matt Buskard told City Pulse in January. As I perused the appetizers, sandwiches, salads, burgers and entrees, my head started to spin. I wanted to try everything because it all sounded so delicious, but neither my stomach nor wallet could afford that. After some difficult contemplation, I settled on the Bobcat burger and a cup of vegan chili.

I would have liked to dine at the restaurant, which is housed in the old Union Depot train station, but I had spent the day walking around playing “Pokémon Go” and just wanted to sit on my couch and relax. However, because I had exerted myself so much, I didn’t feel guilty at all about finishing my half-pound burger, which was topped with even more artery-clogging accouterments like bacon, cheddar cheese and a sizable onion ring. The two quarter-pound patties, despite being cooked to medium-well, a touch more well-done than I typically prefer, were juicy and flavorful, and the bacon was obviously high quality, providing another level of meaty flavor and a nice crunch. The onion ring and cheese imparted even more savoriness, but the barbecue sauce drizzled on the top bun pulled everything together with its tangy sweetness.

The burger came with a choice of either fries or tater tots, and since tots have their own section on the menu, I decided to go with those. I made the right choice — my boyfriend’s fries were well seasoned but a bit soggy, likely because they weren’t made to order. My tots, however, were golden on the outside, fluffy on the inside and coated in a seasoning blend that had something special beyond just salt and pepper — maybe onion powder, but I can’t say for sure. I was reminded of the episode of “Glee” where one of the characters goes on a tirade to get tots back on the school’s menu after they’re banned for being unhealthy. If they were the tots from Bobcat Bonnie’s, I would go on a tirade, too.

After my meat-and-potatoes binge, I turned my attention to the chili, which ended up being the star of the show. An Impossible burger is $15, but you can get almost a pint of chili for $4, and it’s mostly Impossible meat. Sure, there are some beans and a hint of tomato, plus a sprinkling of vegan cheese and green onions on top, but the “beef” dominates. I’d estimate there’s at least one Impossible burger’s worth of meat, if not more. Whether you’re vegan or not, if you like chili, this is an incredible deal, and the hearty stew could fill you up on its own.

Buskard said the winter 2023 menu is probably the chain’s best yet, and even though I haven’t been able to try the other iterations, I wouldn’t doubt that. I loved everything I tried, and I still have so much more to explore. The thought alone sends hunger pangs shooting through me. In the end, my mom was right. Maybe mothers really do know best.





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