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Mar 18, 2007 03:28 PM

Authentic southern bbq in montreal

Looking for info about a new smokehouse in montreal called "BOFINGER" in NDG.

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    1. re: SnackHappy

      Thanks for the info I may go try it tonight. I have family from the southern states and they are always looking for Good old fashioned bbq up here. We tried Mesquite a few months ago but it was disgusting and dirty and the owner didn't seem to care when we tried to explain real bbq.

      1. re: montrealbelle

        Bofinger is a disaster. This place makes Mequite look good. I cannot fathem how 2 owners of decent restaurants are putting out this garbage. I spent $25 and had to eat a nutribar for dinner. Even though I'm a chef and caterer ANYONE would have agreed what was put in those boxes was barely dog food. I ordered a sampling to go with all sauces on the side so I could evaluate the meat on it's own; brisket sandwich, pulled pork sandwich and beef ribs along with 3 sauces and cole slaw. I opened the slaw first and it looked like it had been sliced by someone blindfolded. There weren't 2 pieces the same size. It was thick cut and drenched with some weird oil based dressing. Who makes slaw with oil? This was a bad sign-if you can't pull off a decent slaw how can you produce succulent tasty meat out of a smoker? 0/10. When I opened the brisket sandwich I saw 4 thin dried out slices from the flat that looked like they had been run over by a car. Incredibly, there were grill marks on them which is like a neon sign flashing "we don't know what we're doing". The bun was so oversized for the lame portion it looked ridiculous. I picked up a slice and tried to pull it apart and I couldn't tear it pulling hard. I took a small bite and spit it out, 0/10. The sauce was very mediocre and had a puddle of oil on top of it. Next was the pulled pork. Same bun with old looking pork, 1/4 pound max. When I took a bite of this sandwich then looked at the cross section it was 80% bread, 20% pork. It was decent with a smoky kick and very uninspiring, 5/10. The sauce was some kind of mustard concoction. I tasted it 5 times and could not figure out what was in it. I saved the beef ribs for last. I've been smoking them myself for a while and realy love them when they're cooked right. They looked good but very encrusted with rub. My first bite left me with way too much rub and the meat was totally under done. Fatty, tough, not even close to fall off the bone. These could have cooked for at least 2 more hours. The back of the rib still had the membrane on and was covered with fat, 1/10. All the food came in boxes that were closed with 3 staples. I cut myself opening a box-why use staples if there is a chance one could land in your food? Also no menus to give with your order and no address on the menus.
        Authentic BBQ is a labor of love, a time consuming nurturing process that can only be acheived with a passion and respect for the process. Judging from what I sampled, the way customers were being handled by staff and what I saw in the kitchen, these people do not understand BBQ or service. How dare they call themselves a smokehouse. I give this place 6 months.

        1. re: Scener

          Consider giving Bofinger another chance. For starters, I think you missed out on their best dish, which is the pork ribs. The chicken is a close second. I realize it is difficult to consider revisiting any place given the type of experince you had, but bbq is different. I know they are very choosy with all of their ingredients and everything is from scratch with no MSG, so the quality is there. Each cut of meat is cooking for anywhere from 6-18+ hours, so it may take some time for the kitchen to be completely consistent.
          That said, I have a near constant craving for the pork ribs which are as good or better than anything you can get north of the Mason-Dixon line. Remeber these ribs are slow smoked using real hardwood (I've seen the flames and tasted the smoke), so they should be tender but still have a little "chew" (i.e., not completely fall off the bone which is an indication of over-cooking or worse yet - boiling). Also, I caution you 6 ribs is more than any one person needs, although it is a lot of fun to try and eat them all.

          1. re: lesupperclub

            Any idea what kind of smoker Bofinger uses(one of those big rigs from the US)?

          2. re: Scener

            I couldn't agree with you more. I wish I read this before having a Bofinger nightmare of my own.

            1. re: tastyfood

              Care to elaborate? You obviously must feel strongly about your experience since this is your first post on CH. What happened?

      2. I ate there last week before the review came out, here are my impressions:

        The pulled pork was great but the beef brisket was terrible, way undercooked. The sauces were delish!

        Also, I can believe she said the mac’n’cheese was good. It was Kraft-like but without any flavor. I was expecting yummy cheesy-gooey noodles and all I got were orange covered elbow macaroni.

        The owner is super nice – old owner of the Clermont- who teamed up with the owner of La Louisiane to open up this place. It pretty nice and I hope they stick around, but the food needs some tweaking.

        17 Replies
        1. re: Arktik

          Arktik, do you know which specific "old owners" of Claremont to open this up? You can PM me if you don't want to post names on the board. Thanks.

            1. re: ios94

              According to a chef's blog, the owners are Kyle Kerr and Stephane Nanny. See:

              I had lunch there today and was delighted with my smoked chicken sandwich drenched in sauce & generous, tasty sides of cucumber salad & dill-scented baked beans. I'll be back for sure. My husband also enjoyed his pulled-pork sandwich. Reminded me a bit of Black Camel in Toronto - down to the B&W colour scheme -

              A nice change from Mesquite, which I also love. Montrealbelle - so sorry to hear you had such a bad experience. I've been there dozens of times and never had an issue with either cleanliness or politeness. Let us know what you think of Bofinger.

              1. re: kpzoo

                OK, cool. I used to work at Claremont that's why I was curious. I will definitely check out Bofinger.

                As for Mesquite, I have been there only once and was not highly impressed but we are willing to give it another chance sometime soon. If I'm not mistaken the menu states that their sandwiches are served on (I believe Portugeuse buns, or some specific bun) unforutnately it was served on those grocery store cardboard buns, it seemed that our order was delayed and/or sitting under the heat lamp for a long time and I wasn't too impressed with the sauce.

                1. re: ios94

                  Due to this thread, I went to Bofinger last night. It wasn't bad, it wasn't great; just kinda so-so. I got there around dinner hour. The place was beginning to pack up and people were milling around the cash, ordering and paying for their meals, and just staring at a big menu behind the counter - which, incidentally, is all in French. There's a smaller menu on the counter itself, which is in English. It was my bad luck to be stuck behind a couple and their prepubescent daughter, who couldn't decide what she wanted and was taking forever to place an order. Finally, it was my turn and I ordered the pulled pork sandwhich combo with two sides. I got the mac and cheese and potato salad. The sides were a real disappointment, both were bland and tasted like substandard fare that you'd get at a fast food type of place. The mac and cheese was just a step up from Kraft Dinner, swirled pasta covered in a thick cheese sauce. It didn't have the oomph and ahh of a good mac'n'cheese. The potato salad was even less interesting. Chunks of red potato that were still slightly undercooked; crunchy, in a light mayo type dressing with bits of red onion and utterly bland, no salt, no flava, and no taste. The pulled pork sandwhich was better. The pork was well cooked, stringy and chunky, and garnished with coleslaw and texas style bbq sauce. The sauce was smokey, tangy, and slightly spicy which suited me just fine as that I don't have a high heat (chili) tolerance. Alas, there wasn't enough sauce on my sandwhich, and the coleslaw was also bland, adding only texture but no taste to the sandwhich. The bun itself was nice, slightly crispy exterior with a soft doughy interior.

                  Having said all that, I would still give Bofinger another shot. The place does have potential, and the staff are friendly and polite. However, since the place is new, there are still a couple of kinks that need to be worked out. Namely, the disorganization in placing an order, paying, and being served at the counter. Bofinger's current set-up seems to be confusing new clients. Immediately, when you walk in, you're struck by the delightful smokey bbq scents, the smokey atmosphere (literally cause of the food being cooked in the back), the honky-tonk blues blaring in the background, and the black and white diner decor. The booths would indicate that you sit yourself down and wait until a server comes to your table and takes your order. That's not the way it works for the most part. You go to the counter, place your order, find a seat and then wait until they call your name at the cash. You then go and pick up your food and sidle back to your seat. That doesn't sound bad in theory, but when it's packed, the folks behind the counter and working the cashier are bombarded. Trying to take new orders while clients that have already eaten are trying to pay for their meals. To compound matters, last night, there seemed to be only one girl working the cash, and she was trying to juggle taking new orders, clients trying to pay for their meals, AND garnishing the dishes. A part of the counter contains a buffet style compartment of garnishings for the sandwiches (a la Subway). The poor girl was doing triple duty. In my opinion, this is a real weakness in disorganization. Clients were getting impatient and upset with all the waiting. Those that wanted to order had to compete with those that wanted to pay. Exacerbating the situation are that people that are unfamiliar with the food are left milling around the counter reading the menus and trying to figure out what they want.

                  Another oddity is that seems to be only one set of salt and pepper shakers inside the entire restaurant. Next to the soft-drink fountain, there's a set of salt and pepper shakers for patrons to use. The communal idea of sharing is nice but ultimately impratical when dealing with so many people. When I wanted to add salt and pepper to my ultra bland potato salad, I had to get up from my seat and get the shakers. It's not just getting up and getting the shakers that is inconvienent, but what if someone else had taken the shakers to their table? With that many people that are all eating at the same time, small salt and pepper shakers should be at every table and counter!

                  Given my rather damning review, I'd still go back. As I said, I think the place has potential. While I was eating my sandwhich, I saw other clients tucking into giant size sizzlin' ribs. This is probably the signature dish and the one that keeps clients coming back.

                  Chai Latte gives Bofinger two and half stars. One star for the food and the other one and half for the friendly service. The poor girl behind the counter was swamped but still found it in her to be polite and friendly.

                  1. re: Chai Latte

                    That’s a pretty accurate assessment. I went on a Monday afternoon so I didn’t encounter the “bottlenecking” problem at the cash but even at that, the cashier was taking my order on a little notepad and I can only imagine the confusion if there were more that a few people hanging around. It’s too bad, given that a lot of people will be flocking there after the Hour’s review; that’s when you want to impress people so they will come back.

                    Despite everything, I’m with you…I will give it another shot. Maybe try the ribs…

                    As for Mesquite, I have only heard bad things about it so I never stopped to check it out…

                    1. re: Arktik

                      If you want "authentic" BBQ then you want food that is smoked in a smoker, using wood - not baked in an oven. I haven't been to Bofinger yet, but I will walk in and if they are using gas or electric I won't even bother eating there. If they are using a new-fangled smoking machine that uses little woodchip blocks or somthing like that, I may place an order.

                      Besides building my own smoker, the closest authentic bbq is in Putney, Vermont, at Curtis' BBQ, and a couple of other joints in New England.

                      1. re: spankyhorowitz

                        Don't get me started on Curtis. He does open pit BBQ and to me that's no different from grilling. Also check the New England board. It comes up again and again that the quality of his Q is not consistent.
                        But as for Bofinger's, well anytime anyone says "Authentic Southern BBQ", I get suspicious because there is no such thing. Different regions of the Southern U.S. have distinctly different styles.

                        "Authentic Southern BBQ" which my wife, who grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, calls "Yankee BBQ", usually means boiled, braised, or baked meat with a sweet sauce (containing liquid smoke) glazed on at the last minute when it's reheated for service.

                        Here's a simple BBQ test. Order your meat WITHOUT any sauce. Is it still interesting? Does it still have a smoky flavor? In the case of ribs, is it tender with no chewiness whatsoever and does the little connective tissue that remains seem to have a melting quality? If you can answer yes to these questions, congratulations! You found a place that makes good Q. If the answer is no, then I would give the place a pass.

                        1. re: rcianci

                          I don't believe that it is Bofinger's claim that they do "Authentic" anything. That's just the title of this thread. The full name of the place is Bofinger Barbecue Smokehouse. Anyway, I'll ask how they smoke their stuff, next time I go. It is smoked, though. It's not baked like how St-Hubert (and I suspect Baton Rouge) ribs are.

                    2. re: Chai Latte

                      I agree with everything Chai Latte wrote. They really need to work out some better ordering system. A form perhaps? Some sort of dupe system?

                      Overall we had a nice experience there, last night. The meat is really good, but they're a bit stingy on the sauce in the sandwiches. I didn't really like the condiments bar concept. I wish they would just have set recipes for everything. There's a nice selection of hot sauces. In all the confusion around the counter, I really didn't have time to check them out. I felt kind of pressed to move along.

                      The mac & cheese is really bland and not worth ordering. The coleslaw was too oily for my taste, but my dinner partners liked it just fine. The fries were alright. A bit on the dry side, but not too bad.

                      The ambiance and decor were nice. The fake distressed furniture is a bit cheesy. They really should have salt and pepper shakers and hot sauce at the tables, though.

                      Anyway, I'll be going back when it's less busy to try the ribs. I certainly hope they work out the kinks soon. With a few improvements, this place could be really great, and somewhere I would go on a regularr basis.

                      1. re: SnackHappy

                        Hi SnackHappy,

                        Just out of curiosity, what did you have at Bofinger? It sounds like you had one of their sandwich combos.

                        1. re: Chai Latte

                          rcianci - I agree.
                          I have eaten barbecue all across the Carolinas and Georgia, as well as Kansas City, and I have experienced the sevral different types of authentic barbecue that come from those places.
                          I haven't been to Curtis' in about 5 years, but back then it was pretty good...

                          I was at Tom Jenkins in Florida last week and I was happy as it was much better than anything here, but still I wasn't thrilled.

                          1. re: spankyhorowitz

                            Spanky or anyone else here, tried the Southern BBQ place Karl le Gros that was in Pointe-Claire until it closed around 2-3 years ago? If you have, curious what you thought of it. I had tried them twice & found it fairly good, but I haven't tried the top Southern BBQ places outside Montreal.

                          2. re: Chai Latte

                            I had the Cuban sandwich which, appart from not being very authentic, was rather good. My dining parters had a Po Boy and smoked lamb. The Po Boy was good, but did not stir-up memories of New Orleans. The main culprit with both sanwiches was the bread. They use Portuguese type rolls. I like that bread, but it's not what I'd use to make a Cubano or a Po Boy.

                              1. re: rcianci

                                The lamb was okay, i guess. It was drenched in sauce so i didn't get to taste it by itself but it seemed a bit dry.

                                1. re: SnackHappy

                                  I made it to Bofinger Friday night, my GF and I ordered the pork ribs and the pulled pork sandwich. As some others have mentioned, the ribs need to be cooked for a few more hours as they were not tender enough, the rub was decent but they were quite fatty. Baby back ribs would work better but I guess cost in the issue. I enjoyed the pulled pork though, it was not swimming in BBQ sauce the way it was at Mesquite. I'm not crazy about their system but we didn't have any complaints as we got our food in a timely manner, they should have a wait staff but it seems that they want that "fast food" system so as to get more turnover and more take out. It definitely works in their favor as they get more volume this way. We were probably in there for not more than 30 minutes, if that. I believe that you are getting what you pay for at Bofinger, nothing more nothing less. The food settled well afterwards, another good sign. It didn't seem to have too much butter, MSG, etc...that other places include and make you feel like you are going to keel over.

                                  The place was quite busy but not chaotic, but I could see potential trouble if they get really busy and have people ordering food with nowhere to sit. They should also look into a better vent system. I will be back though.

              2. The original comment has been removed
                1. I went to bofinger last night. My pulled pork was alright but did not have enough sauce (though I think there's a fine line, because at mesquite there was definitely too much).

                  I do not recommend getting a nanimo bar at bofinger, because the one I got last night both smelled and tasted like smoke.

                  p.s. I made myself a ghetto bofinger po'boy, by ordering pulled pork and sticking my own fries in there. The only difference was the cheese!

                  1. Went back, last night. Had the pork ribs with memphis sauce, cucumber salad and baked beans. My first observation is that 6 ribs is way too much for one person, but then again YMMV. I really loved the sides. The cucumber salad was so refreshing. The baladi cucumbers had perfect taste and texture and the dressing was just the right balance of sweet and tart. The baked beans were also delicious if a little undercooked. On to the meat now. The pork back ribs were better than I expected. The rub was vey tasty and the Memphis sauce had a very nice acidic quality that cut through the fattyness of the ribs. The ribs themselves were very moist although they probably could have stayed in the smoker a little longer. Some of the meat was a little too chewy. I wasn't disappointed, though. I thought they were delicious. They did have the membrane still on, though. I wouldn't think it would be a big thing to take it off. I certainly hope they take the membrane off the beef ribs because those things will hurt your teeth.

                    They also have salt and pepper shakers on all the tables, now. So, hurray for us!

                    Overall, this second experience was better than the first. I will be going back to try the beef ribs, soon.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: SnackHappy

                      The difference between Texas barbecue(the original) and Southern Barbecue is that Southern Barbecue is rarely smoked.
                      Here in New York as well as the entire East coast of the states from maine to Florida, Southern Barbeque is synonimous with Soul food, or Southern cooking.
                      The prereqiusites are, as someone has stated previously are, tasty meat or bird, before the sauce, and the most important, fall off the bone tender.
                      If you can pick up the ribs or chicken without some of it falling back on the plate, then it is not authentic Southern Barbecue.
                      I would suggest finding a soul food restaurant, or Baton Rouge

                      1. re: tombombadillo

                        I don't know what baton rouge you've been to, but (though I enjoy it) I have definitely never experienced any meat falling off any bones there.