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

 

Rave: My ‘hood: Christie Station

By Abby
 
I live near Christie Station, which is home to Christie Pits Park, Koreatown, Fiesta Farms and is just a quick jaunt from Honest Ed’s. It’s a pretty awesome part of Toronto to live in – close to The Annex, TTC and even close to cool stuff north of Bloor (who knew?).

One of my favourite places is this little Korean restaurant on the corner of Bloor and Clinton. It’s orange, and that’s how I let people know where to find it, since I’m not exactly sure how to pronounce the name, which is Buk Chang Dong Soon To Fu (according to BlogTO).

Anyway, the service is quick and friendly, and the food is fantastic. It’s also pretty inexpensive – around $25 plus tip for two dinners and two drinks. The Bibimbap is delicious, and served piping hot. Fresh veggies (love the pickled daikon), beef and steaming hot rice, with a perfectly cooked fried egg perched on top make this an amazing one-bowl dinner. The stone bowl its served in is hot, so the rice gets crunchy midway through. I’m not a vegetarian, but will sometimes opt for the veggie version of this dish too. Yum.

Another great menu item is the bulgogi – beef served sizzling hot with onions and rice. I have a hard time deciding between the two – it usually has to do with how healthy I want to eat that night. The beef wins a lot.

I love the Korean condiments served with each meal – two kinds of spicy kimchee, pickled bean sprouts and soy beans in a sticky sweet soy sauce. My fiancé and I always get a bottle of the Korean liquor to go with, and leave the restaurant full, warm and slightly intoxicated by good food, smooth alcohol and great conversation.

Photo credits:
blogto.com 
http://icameisawiate.tumblr.com/

Yum, yum: The Dakota Tavern’s Mint Julep

From time to time, we like to get down to some live music. One of the best music spots in the city is The Dakota Tavern, known for Sunday Bluegrass brunch, The Beauties, surprise musical appearances by Ron Sexsmith, Serena Ryder, and members of The Barenaked Ladies, and just generally as a place for good, ol’ fashioned fun. No BS, no club beats, no frilly drinks (motto: “Unless Malibu comes in a bottle of Wild Turkey, we don’t have it.”).

Aside from a massive beer selection, they boast some great whiskey and bourbon cocktails. One of the best is their Mint Julep. Simple, refreshing and makes you feel right at home with the guitars and banjos.

Insider’s tip: The Dakota Tavern has an amazing menu. They make their own sausage and burgers from different types of game (like venison), use local fish in their fish tacos, and have a mean three-cheese macaroni dish. Nearly everything is housemade, and they use as few pre-mixed ingredients as possible. Go early enough for dinner – you’ll be glad you did. Dinner is served from 6 p.m. to midnight, daily.

The Dakota Tavern’s Mint Julep

1½ oz. bourbon
½ oz. simple syrup
10 mint sprigs, muddled

Mix all in a tall, thin glass. Top with crushed ice.

To get into the true Dakota spirit: pour 1 oz. bourbon in a short glass. Drink. Repeat.