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Cluck, Grunt & Low now open...thoughts?

Did a search here, but didn't really find too much, and one of the topics was apparently removed (for reasons unknown).

Curious what anyone thinks of CG&L, as we are thinking of going there for a "welcome home" supper on Saturday night.

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  1. I just did a search to confirm what you said, and you're correct. The masters of our universe have left an out-of-date and irrelevant, thread, and seem to have removed the thread that actually contained current information. WTF? As I recall, the posters had good if mixed things to say about the product, but which could be attributed to opening kinks to be ironed out. Perhaps the Masters of the Hounds could revive the thread? I passed by, and there doesn't seem to be a great deal of seating, which makes me wonder whether they're counting on a high volume of take-away. This might seem like an odd question, but do they serve wine? No mention of wine on their website, just beer and mixed drinks. Wanting wine with my ribs might seem pretentious, but as much as I like beer, I find it difficult to drink with food. Just something quaffable is all I want.

    1. Cluck Grunt and Low? A better name would be UP CHUCK and SPEW. The first warning bell that this was not true Que was when I walked in and could not smell any wood smoke. Even with the most efficient smoker like a Cookshack or Ole Hickory there is still some residual smoke in the air. This place had no smell. I tried to order brisket with beans and cornbread but was told that they only had coleslaw and potato salad as sides right then. I had the brisket which was smothered in a sickly sweet bbq sauce and had no discernible smoke flavour and no smoke ring. I could not even taste or see any dry rub on it. It was too tough to cut with just a fork and there was too much of the fat cap left on. The coleslaw was both watery and very sour. There were no bbq sauces on the table but 3 kinds of tobasco sauce and the brisket came with dijon and a grainy mustard.The potato salad was pretty good with the cumin adding depth but had too much onion in it. I went at 4pm but saw a sign saying it would open @5pm. I came back @ 5pm and saw different sign saying it would open @ 5:30 pm. I came back @ 5:30 and it was another 15 minutes before they opened. I asked about dessert and was told that only the Wild Turkey ice cream was made on site. I tried it and it was alright but 2 small scoops in a bowl for 6 bucks is not worth it. The website says there are no reservations, but a group came in with reservations. There are alot of servers for the size of the place. One server was walking around with his cellphone camera taking pictures of customers with no explanation which was a little unsettling. I also noticed that there are cameras set up in the restaurant itself. Are they afraid of being robbed? Overall a very disappointing exprience.

      21 Replies
      1. re: bbqontherun

        I love the new restaurant name!!! Now that's saying it how it is! I went last night and I want to make an amendment to the menu. The “PULLED” chicken sandwich should be changed to: The CHEWED UP and SPIT OUT sandwich! It was absolutely horrible, now I know what cat food taste like, THANKS!!! Also, I left there stinking of nasty chicken and ribs sweat like odour. It permeated my hair, clothes and skin it was actually very disgusting and unbearable. I couldn’t wait to get home and take a shower. I would advise everyone to stay clear of Cluck Grunt & Low.

          1. re: estufarian

            To each his own, I guess. But honestly speaking... James Chatto has no clue what good food tastes like!

            1. re: barbe77

              My tongue was firmly in my cheek! But Chatto did give a very positive review and is often quoted on this Board as an authority. He actually ranked it #12 (a top also-ran) for his top 10 list for 2007, especially praising the pulled chicken!!!
              Cluck Grunt & Low is AWFUL - and I think there have been about 150 posts on this with only a couple of mild dissensions (most/?all for the pulled pork).

              1. re: estufarian

                Okay enough said... Looks like James is losing his taste buds!!!!

                1. re: barbe77

                  Who are the reviewers whose advice you recommend?

                2. re: estufarian

                  Estufarian, I had lunch at Memphis Smoke House, 4612 Yonge St, N of Sheppard. Pretty good wet and dry ribs (my wife and I split the ribs) for $12 at lunch. The cook came out, and he talked to all of us at lunch. Regular black guy named Sam. My wife, who lived in the Deep South (and Tennessee) for about 10 years, said he was the real thing...They talked recipes too!!

                  1. re: Dean Tudor

                    I tried this last year and it was pretty bad. Full of grease with enough on the side that I got a clear thumbprint of the server.
                    I know they closed over the New Year for a couple of months. Maybe they've changed their recipe/chef. The recent article in the Star missed all the important info - why did they close for "renovations" after less than a year in business? Was the 'month' in "For a whole month, they scoured more than 30 eateries" before the original opening or before the re-opening? And a serious reporter might well have inquired why their name was so similar to that of Memphis BBQ in Woodbridge which, perhaps not coincidentally, is often praised as the best BBQ in Toronto area! (www.memphisbbq.ca). I seem to recall a protest from that source earlier.
                    OK I may re-try - because I respect your opinion. But I'll only post AFTER I've compared the two directly. So far I haven't trekked to Woodbridge as Memphis-style BBQ has always disappointed me (I posted on the Memphis Board about my experiences) - although I still prefer it to South Carolina.
                    Now if somebody were to open a 'New Mexico' style place I'd be first in line. The only person to rival that (IMO) is John Johns in Syracuse - if he's still around - haven't visited for 5 years. And I'm planning a visit to Kansas City - I like that style but need to try the authentic version.

                    1. re: Dean Tudor

                      We went there a few times a few months back, and then the place closed down. It reopened recently. Last time we were there, Sam also came out and talked to us. Have you been there before the shut-down and reopening? Is the food the same?

                      I recall one experience was excellent, and another was mediocre. But prices are reasonable, food overall is good and I'm happy to return.

                      1. re: Dean Tudor

                        They apparently flew in southern bbq experts to set up the smokers and train the staff on technique.
                        If you can't get authentic Texas smoke house bbq then I don't know where you can.

                        I haven't been to cluck grunt and low but I'm really excited to check it out now. MMM up chuck n' spew - sounds delish!

                        1. re: virtualvelma

                          Nobody seems to know WHEN they did this. I'm not ready to go back if I went after this 'upgrade'. They've been very coy about when this happened - it may have been before they opened!

              2. re: bbqontherun

                I could be wrong, but my understanding is that C,G&L food is prepared off-site and then assembled and reheated at the actual location. That may be why the only smoke you smelled was from customers fuming.

                1. re: sloweater

                  Based on another thread on this topic, you are correct. No smoking of food is done on site.

                  1. re: Pincus

                    Actually, from what I know, the cooking is done at the Bayview location and driven down to the Annex location. I can't see that causing a problem, if done correctly. Ribs are always slow cooked in advanced.

                  2. re: sloweater

                    The food is prepared at one of the locations. Your considerable research talents will quickly reveal which. Hard to find a smoked meat joint that never reheats anything.

                    1. re: lemoo

                      There's 'never reheats anything' and then there's 'reheats everything'. Must everyone bend over backwards to worship the great buddha Thuet?

                      1. re: Googs

                        Which it, in fact, doesn't. But, as you opine to the contrary, what items are on your list of "do not resuscitate". And how are these choices arrived at, by you? And, you have some knowledge to share vis a vis Thuet's influence on this immediate topic and the specific errors you see being made?

                        1. re: lemoo

                          All the slow smoked items are sent to the Bloor St. site, perhaps from Bayview, perhaps from another source.
                          There are complaints about reheated, tough ribs, and poorly finished, even cold (doesn't that remind us of microwave?)
                          It's enough to make someone (me) consider not going.

                          1. re: jayt90

                            they are smoked at the bayview site.

                          2. re: lemoo

                            As your postings are, with one exception, exclusively on Thuet please do share your inside information lemoo.

                          3. re: Googs

                            There is absolutely nothing wrong with reheating BBQ. It is basically always "overcooked." The whole point of BBQ is to take cheap, tough cuts of meat and then cook them to death at low heat until the sinews break down and become tender. In principle, there's no reason why they could be reheated at low 220 deg with any loss in quality.

                    2. Its not that good, their cornbread could be used as a hockey puck. If you are gonna go, never go at lunch, but reading some of these reviews you might just wanna skip it and drive to rochester for some dinosaur bbq. Real barbeque.

                      1. The Bayview location was very disappointing. The people next to us ordered both kinds of ribs and both were totally dried out. We complained to the waiter and the chef came out and replaced their food in copious quantities. It was fine, but why did we need to complain? I had the brisket, which was marginally ok. Besides the quality issues, the quantity for the price, given the kind of resto it is, is sparse to say the least. Compare to Centre Street Deli for example... not to mention Schwartz's in Montreal. Cute yes but not up to snuff. Too bad, because the concept is great.

                        1. The website's "pedigreed chefs" button has been deactivated. Anybody know who's chef'ing and exec chef'ing for CGL Bloor and Bayview or if Thuet is still running the show?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Googs

                            Executive Chef: Marc Thuet

                            Chef de Cuisine: Anne Dunbar

                          2. I was in the first time on Saturday just past...
                            I ordered a pint and a pulled pork sandwich initially but was told they were all out so i then opted to a beef brisket sandwich instead. What i received a few moments later was the most piddly-assed sandwich i've seen in quite some time. My friends chicken sandwich was literally twice the size. I really wanted to like the place and the brisket WAS OK but what really drives me nuts is when a restaurant is overly skimpy to try to save (or make) and extra buck

                            1 Reply
                            1. I've been to the Bloor location about 5 times since it opened and always enjoyed myself. Some of it has been a bit inconsistant but always enjoyable.

                              The pulled pork sandwhich is consistantly the best I've had in the city. Being served Memphis style with slaw on it. The brisket has ranged from pretty good to amazing on last visit. When I get BBQ I prefer to get a big sloppy sandwhich served on a basic bun and that's what I've been served here.

                              The sides are all good but also a bit inconsistant. Slaw is excellent, Potato salad was kind of blandish, beans are good, mac and cheese was excellent.

                              I don't particularly understand the complaints that the meat is smoked offsite. In a traditional BBQ joint the meat is cooked in the morning and served until it runs out. So what if it also makes a short trip? Next time you're in Sonny Bryan's in Dallas ask them when your meat was cooked, if you complain about the fact that it happened earlier in the morning they'll tell you to leave and go to the What-a-burger down the street.

                              13 Replies
                              1. re: abigllama

                                I think the complaints are more that the meat is smoked offsite then reheated with varying degrees of care to the process.

                                1. re: abigllama

                                  Cole slaw on pulled pork isn't Memphis style; it's Eastern North Carolina style. The whole point of the coleslaw is to offset the acidity of a vinegar-based BBQ sauce. There is no point of having a coleslaw on a tomato sauce, unless it is very acidic. Pulled pork isn't even a a traditional Memphis BBQ dish.

                                  1. re: wordsworth

                                    And Arkansas too. But, surely, vinegar is a major component of most all coleslaw recipes. So what's that about it's purpose being to "offset the acidity of a vinegar-based BBQ sauce"? Doesn't make sense.

                                    1. re: lemoo

                                      That's why they use creamy cole slaw. It would be pointless to have a vinegar-oil cole slaw.

                                    2. re: wordsworth

                                      When I lived in Dallas and Atlanta for work I frequented a bunch of BBQ places. Some of them offered a pulled pork sandwhich with the option of slaw on it was called "Memphis Style". It was a few years ago but I'm pretty sure they didn't have the option of having it "Eastern North Carolina" style. Regardless of the "point" of it, the acid levels, or regional traditions..that's what they called it.

                                      1. re: abigllama

                                        And I'm simply saying that is not a real Memphis style BBQ.

                                        1. re: Colton

                                          Then next time you're in Memphis you should make it a point to tell them all that they're doing it worng. I'm simply saying that it's not how it should be or to balance this or that..it's just how it is.

                                      2. re: wordsworth

                                        When I was in Memphis - this was ALWAYS how it was served. Here's the first part of my report (on the South Board, which covers Memphis)

                                        "Last week found a sell off to Memphis so visited for a few days. Didn’t have time to post for recommendations but did print out some excellent threads and planned the food on the plane.
                                        First many thanks to all (particularly, but not restricted to, Randal and Tater). Of course, the food destinations were mostly BBQ – particularly as Toronto is severely BBQ-challenged. [ASIDE: Nothing has changed much!]
                                        So, as an outsider, here are my impressions, both general and specific.
                                        On the BBQ front, started with Cozy Corner for lunch. Great reception, people really friendly. And the star here was the sliced pork sandwich – which surprised me, as I prefer the texture of pulled pork. Great balance between brown and white meat. BUT the bread (with the OK ribs) and the bun were frightening memories of the Wonderbread years. And this bread ‘experience’ was repeated elsewhere. All the places served similar ‘bread’ – OK this may be a Memphis tradition, but some traditions take a little getting used to, and I wasn’t there long enough. Also the slaw served on the bun was a bit unsettling for a newbie who’s never had it served this way before. Nothing wrong with the slaw itself, but it made the bun really wet – and wet Wonderbread is, if anything, worse than dry (to my palate). Also the vinegar from the slaw detracted from the basic BBQ – giving a hint of South Carolina style, which is my least favourite style. So, for the remainder of the visit, I ordered slaw on the side. Nevertheless, despite these personal style issues, Cozy Corner still delivered the best sandwich on the trip. Also tried the local ‘specialty’ BBQ spaghetti here – didn’t bother ordering it again. Not sure why this is such an attraction. But the beans were excellent – great molasses flavour.

                                        Next up was Central BBQ. The pork in the sandwich was pulled (good start) and I ordered slaw on the side. BUT the pork was really dry (maybe that’s why the slaw is added!) and mostly white. The bun was discarded (again!). VERY disappointing. But the ribs – aah this is the thing to order here. Fabulous. Smoky, pink, spicy, hot temperature. Definitely worth a detour."

                                        1. re: wordsworth

                                          When I hear the words "Memphis style" in regards to BBQ, I'm thinking ribs, not pulled pork. That being said, a Memphis style pulled pork sandwich is tomato-based sauce, with slaw on it. Eastern North Carolina style is pepper vinegar-based sauce, with slaw. South Carolina style can be any one of a few different sauce types. Estufarian, sorry to break it to you, but the Wonderbread issue is, in fact, a BBQ-wide tradition, not just a Memphis one. I've never gotten a highfalutin' bun in a BBQ shack...no matter what region, it's just not how things are done. As far as the "point" of the slaw on the sandwich, I've always thought of it as sort of an all-purpose condiment - much like lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, and mayo on a burger, it provides crunchy, juicy, a little sweet, a little tart, and a little creamy, all in one convenient package. It's a little weird if you're not used to it, but it is SO worth getting used to.
                                          Or...maybe not, if you only get good BBQ when you leave the country and don't want to waste any time acquiring tastes when you could just be acquiring as much beautiful smoky meat as possible. ;)

                                          1. re: Wahooty

                                            I've discovered that Wonderbread is ubiquitous in BBQ (that was an old post which 'answered' the cole slaw issue - my rib experiences in memphis are later in my original post). However, I found the Texas version to be still 'white bread' but with a little more firmness (sort of like stale Wonderbread - assuming that were possible!). And my favourite (so far) is the New Mexico style - which actually comes with a 'real' bun - but the bun part is irrelevant really - it's the meat (and sauce) that counts. And Kansas City is this year's mission.

                                            1. re: estufarian

                                              In my BBQ samplings in the US I never really found the bread to be regionally consistant. For the most part it's the wonderbread stuff but occasionally a bit more substantial depending on where they get their bread.

                                              In the Dallas area two famous BBQ places, Sonny Bryan's has a bit more of a crusty hamburger bun. While Railhead near Fort Worth served theirs on a generic wonderbread hamburger bun.

                                              Railhead also adds yellow mustard and two pickle slices to each briskit sandwhich. I was horrified by this at first, but it totally worked and was one of the best sandwhiches I'd ever had.

                                              1. re: abigllama

                                                Had my best brisket BBQ in Fort Worth (at Angelo's) - so Fort Worth seems to be the place for beef!

                                            2. re: Wahooty

                                              South Carolina is best known as mustard sauce country.

                                              And white bread is a traditional BBQ accompaniment in many places and ubiquitous in Texas. It's considered the nutrionious part of the meal.

                                        2. I didn't really like it that much, small portions.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Bobby Wham

                                            Well, I was there last night and had beef ribs and mac and cheese... and a few piints...

                                            And it was superb.

                                            The ribs were so huge that I had to take them home!

                                            And the servive was incredibly friendly and efficient also.

                                          2. The ribs are amazing.
                                            portions are huge.
                                            brisket is a pass.
                                            sometimes the food comes out luke warm.
                                            the Bayview location seems like its partially retarded for some reason.

                                            but the Bloor location has another plus - Mill St Beer on tap (Wit!!)

                                            1. I'm sorry to say that I'm beginning to understand all the negative posts about CG&L. SO and I went there (to the Bayview location) for the first time a couple of months ago, and quite enjoyed our meal (I posted about it on another thread afterwards). However, we went back on Friday and were quite disappointed. We shared the pulled pork sandwich (again) and this time tried the sticky ribs. The ribs were decent, but the pulled pork was a real letdown. It was completely devoid of smoky flavour, and what flavour it did have wasn't great (I can't quite put my finger on it though); also, its texture was a bit off (so finely shredded/pulled, it was almost like tuna salad or something). Our sides were the highlight of the meal; the buttermilk biscuits were lovely and the baked beans, while a touch al dente (if you can use that term to describe baked beans) had a great flavour.

                                              Our service on the first visit was great. This time, it was pretty horrible. Our first server was totally inattentive most of the time and, the odd time she actually came to our table, she was completely useless. She was replaced by another server partway through the meal who was moderately better, but still not great -- eg. when I asked for wet naps to clean my sticky fingers, he brought out only one finger bowl, which SO and I had to share (in fairness, SO hadn't asked for anything, but it seems kind of obvious to me that when two people have eaten sticky ribs, two finger bowls (or wet naps) should be supplied).

                                              After our most recent experience at CG&L, I think the best I can say is that it's hit and miss....

                                              1. I was at CG&L last week. Nice looking place but all the food tastes the same as far as I can tell with one exception: my step daughter had the Mac & Cheese and folks, we have a winner! It was great. Could have done without the sausage, but the mac was perfect and the cheese was oh so cheesy.

                                                My burger was fine, though, as mentioned, all the meat that came piled on top tasted exactly the same; hubby's ribs were dry and they charged me full price for my burger even though I asked for no side accompaniment. Sides were in the $4 - $8 range if memory serves so what gives? Even the dreaded Hero Burger deducts from their prices if you ask that things be held.

                                                The green velvet upholstery was the high point of the experience for me.

                                                1. Never been but want to see what the fuss is about. That said I want to give my dinner a fighting chance. So: Which location's food is better? Bayview or Bloor? Any difference at all???

                                                  I'm leaning to the Bloor location simply because their ambiance seems a bit more interesting. But at the end of the day, if the Bayview location serves better food I'll go there.

                                                  Where to go, where to go?

                                                  1. Went to Memphis Smoke House in North York (near Yonge/Sheppard) this afternoon for lunch. What a disappointment! Although we sat underneath an umbrella on the patio surrounded by beautiful flowers, we had to endure loud music emanating from an LCD TV that they had set up to face the patio. Add to that, an indifferent waitress who only brought ketchup to the table (never asked if we wanted vinegar, salt and pepper, how the meal was or if we wanted dessert), a pulled pork sandwich and a pulled chicken sandwich which were both lukewarm at best and dry (the splash of generic barbecue sauce that came on them didn't help), and french fries that tasted like store-bought frozen. All this for $25 (including one iced tea, taxes and tip). Won't go back and definitely wouldn't recommend it.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: spolan

                                                      I had the pulled pork there and it was great.

                                                      Seems some are having good experiences (me) while others are having poor ones.

                                                      Sad to hear it

                                                    2. so I'll admit that I like the melt in your mouth ribs of Baton Rouge... these ribs tasted like Ham on the bone and were far from "melt in your mouth" - they also did not have air conditioning on the day I went and they couldn't even tell us if they just didn't have it or it was broken... They were out of everything and that was at lunch - no brisket, no iced tea....just a bad experience overall and a serious thumbs down.

                                                      1. About to become the late unlamented CGL...

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: LJS

                                                          "About to"? They closed last Friday.

                                                        2. I passed by on the weekend, and despite their mediocre reputation, they have a sense of humour. The sign on the door said that they were closed due to illness, and had their emblem, with the cow saying "mad cow", the chicken "avian flu", and the pig "swine flu". Charlie the Tuna was to one side, saying "Eat fish!"

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                                            If only the food had been as good as their wit!