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.
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.
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.