Yum, yum: Leslieville Pumps

A few weeks ago, after a meeting on the east side, we decided to make a pit stop at Leslieville Pumps and pick up lunch for the fourth floor. Between them and Paulette’s, Queen and Carlaw has become quite the foodie corner. We’d been hearing a lot of buzz about this gas station cum southern BBQ joint, so decided to check it out for ourselves. 

The Flom brothers with the Pumps’ pump.

Founded by two brothers, Greg and Judson Flom, Leslieville Pumps feels like an establishment you’d stop in at in Tennessee en route to Nashville, instead of in Toronto’s Leslieville. The gas station is open 24 hours, 365 days a year, but the kitchen serves from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. during weekends.

Rustic interior.

A self-described smoke house, the Pumps’ menu has a lot of items that are cooked “low and slow”. Along with breakfast sandwiches, there’s beef brisket, pulled pork and smoked chicken thighs. We sampled the brisket and woweeeee, was it delicious. Piled onto a fresh bun, the brisket is topped with crispy onions, barbecue sauce and mustard. To die for!

Eat this brisket with your eyes closed, and you’ll swear you’re in Kansas.

As we can never turn down a pickle, the fried pickles were a definite order item. The batter remained crispy, as did the pickle, all the way back to the office. Finally, the BBQ corn salad was a nice, fresh side dish but was a hard decision with corn fritters on the menu too. 

What’s better than a pickle? One that’s deep fried, of course.

We can’t wait to go back and try out more items on the menu. We heard another customer raving about the curry, which is made by a Sri Lankan staff member and the BLT, made with maple glazed smoked peameal bacon sounds like an absolute must. One thing’s for sure, we’ll be heading over the east end a lot more often now.

Follow them on Twitter: @LPumps

Yum, yum: Barque

A trip to Austin, Texas a few years back introduced us to the delectable world of Southern BBQ. Us northerners were hard-pressed to find anything similar, until a wave of BBQ joints popped up here in Toronto. The Stockyards was one of the city’s trailblazers, offering delectable fried chicken and pulled pork up on St. Clair West. Now the (relatively) new kid on (a different) block is Barque – purveyor of all things smoked, from ribs to brisket to cocktails.

Photo via Blog TO.

Self-identified by chef-owner David Neinstein as “Toronto’s Urban Smokehouse”, Barque puts a downtown spin on the classic BBQ joint combining a comprehensive wine list and craft beers with smoked ribs, brisket and chicken. They also find playful uses for their signature candied bacon, such as rimming the glass of their Caesar.  

Photo via Blog TO.

We recently went to Barque for dinner and were seated at their back bar, overlooking the kitchen. For those who are interested in what goes on behind-the-scenes, this is the best spot in the house! It also helps when kitchen staff slip you a few pieces of candied bacon to nibble on while looking over the menu.

We decided to start off with the pulled lamb nachos ($10), followed by the sampler platter for two ($38). We highly recommend getting the sampler platter, as it allows you to, uhh, sample many different meats. You can choose three out of the following options – pork ribs, beef ribs, brisket and chicken – along with two sides. All of the sides are delicious, but we highly recommend the pickled platter as it’s the perfect complement to the smokey meat.

Eating Barque’s beef ribs made us feel like Fred Flintstone (we mean this in the best way possible), and their brisket was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. While we rarely order chicken when dining out, Barque made us reconsider our stance. They tout their chicken thighs as “Competition Winning” and we can see why.

We would definitely go back to Barque for dinner and can’t wait to try out their brunch menu as well. They also offer a “Family Dinner” on Sunday night, served as a prix fixe, family-style meal. Best of all? They accept reservations, a rarity in Toronto these days. 

Barque is at 299 Roncesvalles Ave. Visit their website for more info or find them on Twitter and Facebook