Infused vodka palace Russian House has a special treat this week: bear meat. The restaurant will be serving black bear meat sourced from California starting today, Monday, December 11 through Monday, December 18.
Eating bear meat is not unheard of, but it not widely consumed because of availability: hunters aren’t allowed to resell bear meat and the animals are obviously fairly difficult to domesticate. Bears also have “Bambi syndrome,” meaning people hesitate to eat the creatures because the animals are, well, cute.
Ironically, bear meat is often compared to venison in flavor. Though some people have complained of the meat being too gamey or greasy (cookbook author Hank Shaw describes it as “beef wearing a hat made of pork fat.”), others note this is likely due to inexperienced chefs. The meat is decently healthy, and the restaurant noted via a Facebook message that the meat “is very good for people with heart diseases, it also strengthens blood vessels.”
Russian House marinated the meat for several days and will be serving bear three ways: in a soup ($25), as a cutlet with a side ($40), and as pelmeni (Russian dumplings, $35). All three dishes can be sampled (with a shot of infused vodka) for $80. Russian House does not recommend participation for pregnant women and children, per warnings on Russian websites, as eating improperly cooked bear meat can result in trichinosis, an infection caused by the same roundworm that plagues undercooked pork. Call for reservations.