Lion’s Choice and BC Bistro


This is a first for me in my Healthy Dine Finds articles-the first time featuring a fast food restaurant. There are several reasons I haven’t included any fast food restaurants to date. Number one, I very rarely frequent them. Number two, most really don’t have much in the way of healthier dining options. You can find a salad here and there, but that’s about it. Number three, it just never occurred to me. All of that changed when I stopped by the Lion’s Choice restaurant in Independence recently. Lion’s Choice is a St. Louis-based company specializing in lean, medium-rare roast beef sandwiches, which I first encountered some 35 years ago. While having a sandwich, it came to me that this was one fast food restaurant where you really could eat a healthier meal. So, I reached out to Marketing Coordinator Jessica Crouch for some insights into their process and products.

“We only purchase 100-percent lean USDA certified top round beef and deliver it to our restaurants multiple times throughout the week. We then slow-roast the beef on-site daily. Roasts are then held in a warming oven to maintain their tenderness. We don’t slice until ordered,” Crouch shared.

So, a Lion’s Choice roast beef sandwich is about as fresh as you can get, especially in the fast food world. Crouch also points out that the beef itself is lean, lower in calories, and loaded with nutritional benefits. “Benefits such as protein, zinc, iron and B-complex vitamins. And, the beef by itself in our original roast beef sandwich has only 31 calories,” Crouch exclaimed.

Lion’s Choice also gives diners plenty of options. “Looking to ‘beef-up’ on protein? You can order a larger portion or even ask for double the beef. Calorie conscious? Order the roast beef with no seasoning or butter, and you can swap out fries for a side salad, veggie sticks, or plain baked potato. We also allow guests gluten-free options like a gluten-free bun. Even our award-winning fries (named best fries in St. Louis by St. Louis magazine 2019) are gluten-free,” Crouch stated.

Founded in St. Louis in 1967, Lion’s Choice expanded to Kansas City in recent years. There are currently three restaurants in the metro, one in Independence, and two in Johnson County with plans for more in the coming months.

So, how about another Heathy Dine Finds first, a feature on a locally owned restaurant featuring a scratch kitchen north of the river? That’s exactly what I got at BC Bistro on NW Prairie View Road, run by husband and wife team, Brent and Coley Mattison.

“The fact that we’re a scratch kitchen gives us the opportunity to go in any direction the diners want,” Coley Mattison told me. “If you tell us what you want or what you may need from a dietary standpoint, we can make that happen for you.”

Brent and Coley met while working at the Nick and Jake’s restaurant in Parkville. He was in the kitchen and she was a Jack of All Trades, filling whatever position was required. They fell in love, got married, decided to open their own restaurant, then promptly had two children. “That makes it interesting, trying to run a restaurant with two small children, but we continue to grow. We started with the two of us and two other employees and there are now 19 people on staff, plus my husband and me,” Mattison shared.

Speaking of growing, BC Bistro opened in 2014 with a menu offering three salads, three sandwiches, and a couple of entrees. These days, the menu is expansive, featuring quite a few steaks, some solid pasta options, and a good selection of seafood. There are daily specials as well, and those often focus on heathier options. On my most recent visit, the lunch special was a beet and goat cheese salad with some sliced grilled chicken, and it was delicious. BC Bistro also features what it calls a “Simply Grilled” portion of the menu where diners can choose any of the proteins and have them lightly seasoned and grilled. Throw in a vegetable side and you’ve got a great healthy dine find, and I have a new favorite restaurant north of the river. BC Bistro, I will be back!