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Highway 61 Southern Barbeque

Davwud Feb 17, 2009 09:24 AM

Hey Hounds.

So the topic is being tossed around on another couple of threads about the newest addition to the beleaguered BBQ scene in town.

I stopped by this afternoon and met a couple of the owners and got a general gist of things. Southern Pride smokers in the back and live Blues upstairs is a good start. I can honestly say, "It looks promising." So many other places looked promising too though.

The introduction of Southern RUB in Woodbridge is hopefully a good springboard. Mrs. Sippi has proclaimed it genuine although we've both had better in the south. Perhaps the newest entry can push us closer to that culinary alchemy that goes on down yonder.

It opens Monday and I'm thinking about calling it lunch that day. Until then, I keep my eyes crossed that this is indeed the place to take us into the big leagues.

http://www.highway61.ca/

DT

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  1. c
    CoffeeAddict416 RE: Davwud Feb 17, 2009 09:43 AM

    having REAL blues and REAL BBQ in one joint might be too much for me to handle!
    I might start weeping on my first excursion!

    1 Reply
    1. re: CoffeeAddict416
      s
      sydandsys RE: CoffeeAddict416 Feb 17, 2009 10:41 AM

      excellent news. Thanks for the update!

    2. duckdown RE: Davwud Feb 17, 2009 12:16 PM

      Thanks for making this a seperate topic, for some reason the discussion on this place was under a Cluck Grunt & Low thread and I never even noticed it because I really could care less about CG & L.

      1 Reply
      1. re: duckdown
        Davwud RE: duckdown Feb 17, 2009 04:15 PM

        That's how I missed it initially.

        DT

      2. Pastryrocks RE: Davwud Feb 17, 2009 12:34 PM

        Sounds and reads quite promising.

        1. mlukan RE: Davwud Feb 17, 2009 01:11 PM

          Please be good,Please bring us good BBQ. I pray to the BBQ gods these guys know what they are doing. Please Bless Toronto with your smoky goodness.

          1. duckdown RE: Davwud Feb 17, 2009 01:24 PM

            The thing is, the true test isn't how good its going to be in its opening week

            We need to see if the quality is going to suffer after a month or two of being open like so many of these other places do

            If you go on the opening day, things will be at its peak quality, everything freshly smoked and made to order and so on... But after a month or two, will they start cutting corners? Will they start serving previously smoked ribs? Will the pulled pork come from the freezer, or from the smoker?

            12 Replies
            1. re: duckdown
              Pastryrocks RE: duckdown Feb 17, 2009 01:45 PM

              Freshly from the smoker would be a great thing, but who in the GTA is busy enough to serve daily from the smoker? The freezer is altogether a different story.

              1. re: Pastryrocks
                duckdown RE: Pastryrocks Feb 17, 2009 02:54 PM

                So start conservative, theres no rule that says you have to smoke 50 racks at a time

                If they aren't selling THAT kind of quantity, just smoke daily in smaller quantities.. I'm sure they'd sell at least a few racks a day -- and as for the pulled pork, don't use gigantic pieces if you're not selling that much.. Just smoke a smaller piece at a time

                It seems that the average BBQ place has it all wrong; they do massive quantities but then because there isn't that demand it sits around for a few days

                1. re: duckdown
                  Pastryrocks RE: duckdown Feb 17, 2009 03:33 PM

                  Running a large BBQ/smoker daily that is not full, I assume with wood and maybe gas, would increase the overhead cost substantially. I’m not sure how economical it is to run a large smoker/BBQ half full, and if done would there be enough customers willing to pay the higher cost? I know at least of 3 people including myself who would pay more for meat straight from the BBQ/smoker, but a business needs more than just Pastryrocks, Davwd, and Duckdown as customers to operate. I wish there was enough interest in BBQ here in Toronto that at least one place could BBQ/smoke daily.

                  I believe Lykn Chicken is smoking at least 3-4 times a week since that write up in the National Post, which is close to daily. I hope they are able to keep it up. I do know that Lykn Chicken does not freeze meat that has been BBQ/smoked.

                  1. re: Pastryrocks
                    duckdown RE: Pastryrocks Feb 17, 2009 04:11 PM

                    I hear ya, but why would they have only a large smoker if they don't have that kind of turnover? Surely if Toronto has shown us anything (so far) its that the demand isn't there just yet to justify using a huge smoker anyways.. So start small and it can only grow from there! :)

                    I seriously need to head back over to Lykn Chicken, their hours seem to be random... The last time I drove by (at night) it was closed earlier than the hours indicated.. I want another pulled pork sammy

                    1. re: duckdown
                      Davwud RE: duckdown Feb 17, 2009 04:19 PM

                      I don't know if you can read anything into it but the girl who met me at the door said "Smokers." Plural. So they may have the ability to do smaller batches or use multiple smokers for bigger batches.

                      DT

                      1. re: Davwud
                        duckdown RE: Davwud Feb 17, 2009 04:42 PM

                        Would be a wise decision

                    2. re: Pastryrocks
                      estufarian RE: Pastryrocks Feb 17, 2009 05:19 PM

                      Whatever - it won't please all of us - I find Lykn Chicken to have meat that's 'too' tender - it lacks the 'tooth' (or al dente) feel that I prefer. So Lykn Chicken just isn't my style.
                      A number of us have dropped Universal Grill (OK it's not a BBQ - no smoker) from our regular places since they switched to that style for their ribs.
                      But if Highway 61 can please one group (or the other) then it's a win for some of us.
                      Here's hoping!
                      But if Highway

                      1. re: estufarian
                        Davwud RE: estufarian Feb 18, 2009 03:22 AM

                        I think that's the problem up here. No one group is big enough for the restaurant to survive so they try and cater to both. In doing so, they alienate both.

                        DT

                        1. re: Davwud
                          grandgourmand RE: Davwud Feb 18, 2009 04:15 AM

                          Isn't something like what Caplansky did in his early days feasible? Small batches and running out is better than big batches and throwing out, no? Obviously, you risk alienating some customers, but if you're product is good you should build a stable following that allows you to plan your business better.

                          1. re: grandgourmand
                            k
                            KevinB RE: grandgourmand Feb 23, 2009 03:04 PM

                            Heck, even in Dallas, where BBQ is religion, the legendary Sonny Bryan's has a huge sign reading "Open 11 am until the food runs out". I asked if the food ever ran out, and the very large man behind the counter grinned and said "Every day, son!".

                            1. re: KevinB
                              Davwud RE: KevinB Feb 23, 2009 03:39 PM

                              Lots of places like that in the south. Not just BBQ joints.

                              DT

                              1. re: KevinB
                                a
                                abigllama RE: KevinB Feb 25, 2009 02:26 PM

                                Oh Sonny Bryan's :) I have shown up there around 430 to find it shutted with a "we ran out!" sign on the door! drooool

                2. BusterRhino RE: Davwud Feb 18, 2009 04:09 AM

                  It is not economic to cook daily in Ontario for sure. If you are down south there are restaurants that are open three days a week and cook basically 24 hours a day 7 days a week just to keep up. Give me one example of any food type up here that has that kind of following.

                  It is also not economical to smoke smaller cuts of meat, it costs exactly the same to cook that smaller cut of meat as it does the bigger, you also get the same amount of loss. Surprisingly the loss on Pork Shoulder (which makes pulled pork) is around 60%. So you cook a 10lb butt you only end up with 4lbs of finished product. Last summer pork was at $1.80 a lb for shoulder which gives you pricing after labor, loss etc in the $6.00 Per Lb range. If you serve a 6oz sandwich (which most of us do) it means that you "should" be charging in the $9.00 a sandwich range. How many of you would purchase a $9.00 pulled pork sandwich?

                  Then you come to the single largest problem of all, if you always cook fresh one of two things is going to happen.

                  1) You always cook enough for the day and make sure your customers are happy that they can always get the food they want. Then you have the loss from the meat that you don't sell because you always only sell fresh. Some days in the restaurant business you are busy as hell, you would run out. Other days you would end up with 20lbs of pulled pork you couldn't sell and you would have to throw it out (because you are always fresh) suddenly that sandwich is now $20.00 a pulled pork sandwich.

                  2) You run the risk of not making enough product - your customers are now upset because every time they go in there you are out of the food they want. Now what?

                  for many of these companies it's not as easy as just calling up the food service company or going to the local supermarket and picking up more. It takes a lot of time to cook true southern BBQ (pulled pork takes 14-16 hours, brisket the same, ribs are a 4-5 hour cook)

                  I realize that the moderators will probably remove this from the boards, I hope they don't. It's not me trying to sell my business - it's me trying to say the smaller mom and pop restaurants that we are very quickly losing in Ontario are going that way because they don't serve fast frozen foods - costs are higher, labor is higher, gas is higher, electrical is higher, shipping, everything - how many of us go into a restaurant and have seen them raise prices. They are doing everything they can to survive including taking the loss on their meals to keep customers happy by not raising prices. Personally I do everything I can to visit local restaurants owned by families - even if it ends up costing me more I always pretty much get better service because the person serving me has a vested interest in the company and I know that in most cases the food is better for me and has flavour!

                  To the moderators, before you remove this post please think about the post carefully. I am not posting this as an owner / operator I am posting this as a member of chow.

                  22 Replies
                  1. re: BusterRhino
                    Davwud RE: BusterRhino Feb 18, 2009 04:31 AM

                    Thanks B.

                    I guess the trick is to get a good grasp of how much meat you'll need on a daily basis and then find creative ways to use the leftovers. Put some of the meat in beans. There was a place we went to in Atlanta that made Q Wraps. They wrapped pork in a won-ton wrapper or something like that and then deep fried.

                    Something else people up here need to realize. BBQ is regional and doesn't do well outside it's region. If you take someone from KC and drop them in NC, they aren't likely to like the Q. Same with Memphis to Texas or whatever combination you can think of.

                    You really need to spend some time in the south and see what goes on with this stuff. It's not food. It's not entertainment. It's not a sport. It's not a religion. It's so much more than all of that stuff. It's part of the fabric of life.

                    DT

                    1. re: Davwud
                      estufarian RE: Davwud Feb 18, 2009 05:42 AM

                      Of course, being from Toronto, It's hard to imagine any other region's BBQ "not doing well"!
                      But all the info in this part of the thread is worth noting (although I'm having some difficulty with a 60% loss rate).
                      And, of course, the food 'wastage' is the reason that Lunch Specials were invented.

                      1. re: estufarian
                        BusterRhino RE: estufarian Feb 18, 2009 06:38 AM

                        After cooking about 25,000 butts this year I can say with absolute sincerity that the loss on pork shoulder remains at between 58% and 62% depending on who is pulling it. Also depends on the pulled pork, personally I like pulled pork without chunks of fat in it - the mouth feel sort of turns me off.

                        BBQ is absolutely a way of life down south, you would never order a pulled pork sandwich, you would order a BBQ sandwich in the Carolina's - it would come with a helping of coleslaw on top (not much of a choice on that) and depending on where you are it would be dry (no sauce at all) or wet (swimming in sauce). I could literally go on for pages about BBQ in the south. I was taught by the three time South Carolina Grand Champions who serve pork to people from the general public through to the governor and the pro golfers at the Masters how to cook ribs and pulled pork, and my brisket was taught to me by a master bbq'r from Texas - it went from being...thats alright to being "whats happening in my mouth - it feels like my tastebuds are running amok and having a party" (a quote from someone else, not me).

                        As for buying from a grocery store, many stores will refuse flat out to sell to a restaurant. Doesn't make sense to me but they won't. Also with the problems we seem to be having with the food safety chain I would be very careful about buying any products from anything than a recognized food service vendor. For home use the food you buy at a grocery store is safe, but to cook, serve, cool down, reheat, reserve, possibly cool down again you want to make sure that it is absolutely as fresh as possible. Otherwise you may be throwing out a product much quicker because you didn't realize it had been on the store shelve for over a week already. And besides 90% of the pork you buy from a grocery store now has been seasoned already (the process of vacuum tumbling in a salt water brine to add weight and ensure that the product has a longer shelve life) - it's never as good as fresh from the slaughterhouse pork.

                        1. re: BusterRhino
                          jayt90 RE: BusterRhino Feb 18, 2009 06:48 AM

                          Interesting information about grocery store pork. In January I was looking for a whole fresh ham to cure, and bought one in a loose bag at Highland Farms. It was fresh, no apparent seasoning. Two days later, I saw seasoned fresh hams in cryovac at Loblaw and at Sobey's, All three places had the same price, $1/lb. I'm thinking that Highland Farms ham was a little closer to the source.

                          1. re: jayt90
                            BusterRhino RE: jayt90 Feb 18, 2009 07:03 AM

                            90%+ of all meat products are cryovaced before being shipped now. It adds a huge amount of shelve life to a product. Fresh pork shoulders have a lifespan of 8-10 days if paper packed in a bag, if cryovaced you can have up to 20 days on kill date. Pork is usually shipped 1 day after kill. I wish grocery stores etc had to list kill dates on their products, it would make the buying experience that much easier. My motto is "Make friends with your local butcher" - the meat is usually so much better for you.

                            1. re: jayt90
                              i
                              iamafoodie RE: jayt90 Feb 18, 2009 07:20 AM

                              Correct J.
                              I only buy my fresh butts for BBQ at an Italian or Asian grocery store. Their customers wouldn't buy that pumped junk that the majors sell.
                              I agree with Buster. That next time you do a roast weigh it before cooking and then again after cooking and trimming the bones and fat. Do the math.

                            2. re: BusterRhino
                              duckdown RE: BusterRhino Feb 18, 2009 08:06 AM

                              I'm with you on the chunks of fat in the sandwich -- not a fan of that at all

                              1. re: BusterRhino
                                estufarian RE: BusterRhino Feb 18, 2009 09:02 AM

                                You're the expert - I believe 40%. Of course, in the 'Carolinas' they don't just use the shoulder but often the whole pig (At least in North Carolina - only visited South Carolina once). And they often mix in pieces of 'crackling skin' for additional texture. And in NC, BBQ is the cheapest I've found anywhere in my travels.
                                Any thoughts on 'whole animal' vs 'shoulder'? Of course, in Ontario, the relatively small demand probably dictates the shoulder approach.

                                1. re: estufarian
                                  BusterRhino RE: estufarian Feb 18, 2009 09:55 AM

                                  Well at this point of course we are WAY off topic, anyway.

                                  Pork in the south is the most eaten protein by far, this also means that pork is considerably cheaper there than I pretty much have seen anywhere else. Funny thing too is much of their pork is Canadian since we are known to have the safest (by far) pork. Also unlike in Canada the protein prices in the south usually go down in the summer months when people are actually using it, where in Canada the prices skyrocket .

                                  As for the whole pig approach versus the shoulder approach. It becomes a personal choice at that point. Cooking whole pigs in the south is a big past time with very large contests happening weekly on who cooks the best looking whole hog (yes I said BEST LOOKING). Any restaurant that cooks massive amounts of pork will always go for the shoulder as the cost is fairly minimal comparatively and loss *surprisingly) is smaller on a shoulder than a whole hog.

                                  As far as cracklin's is concerned...look at my quote on the brisket earlier. It's exactly the same one I would use for cracklin's - I haven't ever cooked them but I have eaten my fair share when I am in the south. Nothing beats the flavour of pig skin and fat except maybe bacon, or how about bacon on bacon, or pig candy (candied bacon)... Alright I am hungry who wants to eat!

                                  1. re: BusterRhino
                                    Davwud RE: BusterRhino Feb 18, 2009 10:30 AM

                                    No only does meat go down in the summer, they drastically reduce the cost of turkey's around holidays.

                                    DT

                                2. re: BusterRhino
                                  m
                                  millygirl RE: BusterRhino Feb 27, 2009 02:14 PM

                                  I couldn't agree more BusterRhino. Given your circumstances I think it would be highly unprofessional to express your opinion. But I suppose others in your position might so I personally thank you and well said.

                                3. re: estufarian
                                  Davwud RE: estufarian Feb 18, 2009 08:16 AM

                                  Est.

                                  I was thinking about it. First off, the shoulder is weighed as is. After cooking it's easily shrank by 25%. Then you remove the skin and bone. Then there's the rest of the fat and assorted nasty bits. I thought it was a little high at first but I think somewhere, sometime I may have weighed one before and after and it went from around 20 to around 10lbs. And I usually add some of the rendered juice back into it. 60% may be on the high side, but it's not a stretch.

                                  DT

                                4. re: Davwud
                                  HarryLloyd RE: Davwud Feb 18, 2009 07:22 AM

                                  My apologies Mr. Estufarian, but BR is mostly correct. I render about 50%-60% but i like that fat in the mouth feel.

                                  Its the large bone, the thick rine, sadly some moisture, and the copious amounts of fat!

                                  Chow,
                                  HL.

                                5. re: BusterRhino
                                  jayt90 RE: BusterRhino Feb 18, 2009 06:02 AM

                                  Two points on meat costs and loss:

                                  Full pork shoulders or Boston butts can range from $1.29/lb to below $1/lb in retail stores that can move them, like Highland Farms. Surely this type of pork supply is available to a regular buyer.

                                  Caplansky, using the more expensive beef briskets, is wisely putting waste scraps into soups, poutine, and gravy. I think some scraps of pork and beef probably go into Buster's excellent chili!

                                  1. re: BusterRhino
                                    Pastryrocks RE: BusterRhino Feb 18, 2009 02:28 PM

                                    BusterRhino well put, and thanks for the economic aspect of my argument. I really hope that at some point in my life time someone here in Toronto can BBQ daily so we can eat right from the BBQ.

                                    And what is wrong with the moderators, why is all this still here, is someone asleep?

                                    1. re: BusterRhino
                                      k
                                      KevinB RE: BusterRhino Feb 23, 2009 03:43 PM

                                      You clearly have way more experience than I do at cooking, but maybe I can give you a few marketing tips:

                                      Case 1 - There are certain foods that taste better the next day like, for example, baked beans. Why not take that leftover pulled pork and toss it in to make a real PORK & beans (as opposed to the beans with a hint of pork that we usually get)? Or grind it up with some beef, and make a fusion Quebecois tourtiere/southern BBQ? I'm sure you could come up with some better
                                      ideas - or, like doughnut shops, sell it a little cheaper as "day olds". I'm sure there will be people who'll pay $5 for a $6.50 sandwich, and whose tastebuds would never notice the difference.

                                      Invest in some good tracking software; I worked for an organization with 400 telesales reps working in Canada and the US, and we were usually able to predict our sales to +/- $1,000 on $300,000+ totals. You'll find those leftovers dropping off. (Also, watch the weather forecasts, and see what the correlation between your business and the weather is. If we're going to get 10" of snow tomorrow, I probably wouldn't prepare too much for that day.

                                      2 - Encourage customers to call ahead next time - especially a day ahead - when you have to tell them you've run out. Make your customers realize you are NOT McDonald's; if they want something that's ready in three minutes, they have plenty of other choices. If they want to enjoy something that takes as long to prepare as you noted, they have to work with you. Give them a "preferred customer card", set up a website, get someone who can work a phone - my guess is, if your product is as good as you think it is, and you explain to people why you're doing that, they'll be happy to go along. Nothing makes people feel more special than waltzing past a bunch of people waiting, as they go to the "Preferred Customer" counter to pick up their order. I mean, before the recession, there were spots in NYC where people would reserve dinner two months in advance; is 24 hours too much to ask for you?

                                      Just thinking (well, typing) out loud...

                                      1. re: KevinB
                                        i
                                        iamafoodie RE: KevinB Feb 24, 2009 06:51 AM

                                        Kevin, good business recommendation.

                                        The best of the restaurant POS systems have modules that perform the above tracking and forecasting details along with a customer tracking database. Too many operators just don't bother to use all the tools available to them.

                                        Marketing and systems thinking separates the restaurant pros from the also-rans.

                                        1. re: iamafoodie
                                          OnDaGo RE: iamafoodie Feb 24, 2009 07:14 AM

                                          That is fine after a year or so under your belt... where you have experience.. but even then depending on road construction, school schedules, weather, hype, chowhound reviews, supplier issues, mechanical breakdowns, staff illness, etc. etc. etc.. you never know if you will be full or empty on any given night let alone what the people will be ordering that night.. there needs to be a balance.. if you cook everything everyday in small batches any one mistake could ruin the days food, or leave you with nothing to serve. If you cook too far ahead in huge batches you will be serving old crap after a couple of days..

                                          The only way to do that when you first open is LUCK...

                                          1. re: OnDaGo
                                            k
                                            KevinB RE: OnDaGo Feb 25, 2009 08:35 AM

                                            Hey, I used to work in the leasing business. Restaurants were considered to be the worst risks, just for all the factors you mentioned. You could be a great cook, have a great idea, and make good food, priced properly to provide both value and a profit, and yet still fail because of forces beyond your control. That's why you need to be capitalized beyond a shoe-string, and have to do some serious marketing upfront so that you're not sitting there with an empty place, hoping people will walk in the door.

                                            1. re: KevinB
                                              Pastryrocks RE: KevinB Feb 25, 2009 08:51 AM

                                              Working capital that will last is they key. Taking 2 yrs or more to stand on your own is something that is not uncommon. What bothers me is that I see so many places that provide crap food and still are able to go and go!

                                              1. re: Pastryrocks
                                                Davwud RE: Pastryrocks Feb 25, 2009 09:11 AM

                                                Yep, great pizza places fail two doors away from Pizza Pizza. It just doesn't make any sense.

                                                DT

                                                1. re: Davwud
                                                  i
                                                  iamafoodie RE: Davwud Feb 25, 2009 10:08 AM

                                                  Why people will continue to return to restaurants where they have had terrible food and worse service continues to amaze me too. That's an example of the power of branding and mass advertising. Thank you Chowhounds for scouting out the best.

                                                  For anyone interested in details on yet another type of barbecue here is an interview with a Chicago-style BBQ operator. Please excuse the poor sound quality.
                                                  http://www.rimag.com/article/ca663965...

                                    2. s
                                      Sadistick RE: Davwud Feb 18, 2009 08:24 AM

                                      The website says its only opening in 4 days???

                                      How is it people have tried this place already?

                                      I am trying to remember where this is, right next to where the old Jove Bistro was?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Sadistick
                                        Davwud RE: Sadistick Feb 18, 2009 08:28 AM

                                        Who's tried it??

                                        It's about half way between Duff's and Hollywood Gelato on the west side.

                                        DT

                                      2. Davwud RE: Davwud Feb 23, 2009 10:11 AM

                                        Just so people know, this place did not open as scheduled today. A worker inside said they were aiming for Wednesday.

                                        DT

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Davwud
                                          Muffin__Top RE: Davwud Feb 23, 2009 10:33 AM

                                          Just looked at the menu

                                          I think I will order the BB King for my boyfriend and I

                                          Can't wait to try the sweet potato fries!!

                                        2. e
                                          embee RE: Davwud Feb 23, 2009 10:41 AM

                                          The menu looks very hopeful - good variety of appropriate foods at attractive price points. While I'm gunshy about shakedown periods these days, I can't wait to hear some reports from those who are either less cynical or braver.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: embee
                                            c
                                            CoffeeAddict416 RE: embee Feb 23, 2009 10:47 AM

                                            I'm planning on gonig thursday
                                            hope they're open!

                                            1. re: CoffeeAddict416
                                              j
                                              jayseeca RE: CoffeeAddict416 Feb 23, 2009 03:54 PM

                                              One of my friends is working on the place, and got to have a tasting... apparently everything he got to try had a good smokey flavour, super juicy and tender. I trust his judgment, so hopefully they're consistent.

                                          2. duckdown RE: Davwud Feb 23, 2009 06:15 PM

                                            Prices look brutal

                                            $25 for a full rack? That's officially the highest price in the GTA.

                                            $9.49 for a pulled pork sandwich? Horrible. Officially highest price I've seen in the GTA, again

                                            Not a very appealing start to things, to me.. I'll wait a few weeks before giving up my cash

                                            14 Replies
                                            1. re: duckdown
                                              s
                                              Sadistick RE: duckdown Feb 23, 2009 06:55 PM

                                              Thats pretty high for a startup, especially in these times...not the most sound business decision.

                                              I was going to go there, but for that price I can buy 6lb's of pork shoulder and make a damn good one (and many more) for myself.

                                              1. re: Sadistick
                                                jayt90 RE: Sadistick Feb 23, 2009 07:05 PM

                                                And I can go to Buster's a proven spot without the hype, on Friday's for a rib special at $13 a rack, and eat beside the lake.

                                                -----
                                                Buster Rhino's
                                                2001 Thickson Rd S, Whitby, ON L1N, CA

                                                1. re: jayt90
                                                  duckdown RE: jayt90 Feb 23, 2009 07:47 PM

                                                  The $13 special sounds great, I really want to make it out there

                                                2. re: Sadistick
                                                  duckdown RE: Sadistick Feb 23, 2009 07:47 PM

                                                  I thought someone was gonna call me a cheapskate, good to see I'm not the only one feeling the economic pinch!

                                                  Seeing prices like that is a total turn-off and I haven't even been there yet...

                                                  1. re: duckdown
                                                    c
                                                    CoffeeAddict416 RE: duckdown Feb 24, 2009 02:38 AM

                                                    running a resto on the bayview strip there must cost a fortune. I can't imagine buster's having anywhere near the overhead. Also buster isn't just a resto... they do other stuff out there too.

                                                    I think the prices are fair for the location and the time it takes to make proper bbq. If you took 15 hours to cook something wouldn't you want a fair price for your labour? A hamburger combo from McDonald's is like $6 and they just throw their food in a fryer!

                                                    1. re: CoffeeAddict416
                                                      Davwud RE: CoffeeAddict416 Feb 24, 2009 03:20 AM

                                                      Agreed but it doesn't stop the sticker shock.

                                                      DT

                                                      1. re: CoffeeAddict416
                                                        t
                                                        Tatai RE: CoffeeAddict416 Feb 24, 2009 05:51 AM

                                                        Aside from labour and fixed overhead costs, there's the huge amount of shrinkage in the meat that results from smoking. The menu states that the pulled pork sandwich contains 1/2-pound of meat; that's cooked, post-shrinkage meat. I got maybe 3 to 4 ounces of meat in the pulled pork sandwich at RUB, a significant difference. I also like the fact that when I eat at Highway 61, I'll know where my meat is coming from, worth the extra few bucks to me.

                                                        And wouldn't it be fair to give this place a chance to open before bashing prices? In these times, when we have to be more judicious in our spending, we should be choosing quality (as opposed to quantity, i.e., mass-produced cheap food) wherever we can. If the quality's there, it might be worth it for those of us who are watching our pennies to give up a little something else for what will -- hopefully -- be a real barbecue joint.

                                                        1. re: Tatai
                                                          Davwud RE: Tatai Feb 24, 2009 06:10 AM

                                                          And when they're talking about having live blues at the place, that's also gonna drive up the over head. It does seem a bit expensive but if it's worth it, it's worth it.

                                                          DT

                                                          1. re: Tatai
                                                            grandgourmand RE: Tatai Feb 24, 2009 06:32 AM

                                                            Good point. Admittedly, if you're comparing it to authentic BBQ joints the price point will look bad. But if you compare it to casual dining prices, which includes chains like the keg, kelseys, jack astor's, etc., these prices will compare closely and hopefully you're getting a whole lot better quality. I'd rather spend $10 on a good pulled pork sandwich than $10 for a previously frozen generic burger.

                                                            As as Davwud points out, there's the live entertainment factor.

                                                            1. re: grandgourmand
                                                              i
                                                              iamafoodie RE: grandgourmand Feb 24, 2009 07:23 AM

                                                              Without having the 61 experience it's hard to judge. Having entertainment eats up quite a bit of revenue producing area too and that's got to be reflected in pricing.

                                                              I recently drove up from FL through the Carolina's and great PP sandwiches there are still $5 for a 3 1/2 to 4 oz. potion plus slaw on the typical boring white bread bun.

                                                              If anyone makes that trip using 77 there's a great spot just west off the interstate in Jackson, NC, a little north of Charlotte. It's Bubba's Whole Hog BBQ. They do the piggies overnight in their outdoor smoker using the most sophisticated automated electronic temperature control system I've ever seen for Q. Their insulated smoker looks like a converted walk-in refrigerator with an external smoke box tacked on the back. Clever boy that Bubba.

                                                              Hear in Canada operators have much higher labor and mandated benefit costs than they do in the South. Also food safety HACCP requirements and more frequent and stringent Public Health inspections here add to costs, thank goodness. That's one good reason why wise folks in the South only eat fresh Q.

                                                    2. re: duckdown
                                                      e
                                                      embee RE: duckdown Feb 24, 2009 06:41 AM

                                                      The prices don't seem outrageous to me considering general Toronto standards, especially given Bayview rents and the cost of goods and labour if they really do everything in house.

                                                      I'll acknowledge that I am not aware of pork rib prices, but most others seem reasonable depending, of course, on quality level (ingredients and prep) and portion size. It also isn't clear whether all sides are extra for most of the mains.

                                                      Given both dietary and pricing considerations, I'd like to see size options for sandwiches.

                                                      Let's see what they do before complaining. It may or may not prove to be worth it. As noted in my earlier post, I'm waiting for feedback from people whose opinions I trust before trying them out, but I wish them well.

                                                      1. re: duckdown
                                                        a
                                                        Atahualpa RE: duckdown Feb 24, 2009 07:16 AM

                                                        Ah, but it is Bayview!

                                                        I swear, there are enough people in the area who WANT to pay a certain (high) price for their meals. There has been more than one cheap, good place go under which was then replaced by a worse and more expensive place that has thrived. For example, the horrid, overpriced, Lemongrass replaced a very, very nice family-run Thai place that couldn't make it.

                                                        As I said, its Bayview. I think, in that locale, there is a more potent risk in pricing too low than pricing too high.

                                                        1. re: Atahualpa
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                                                          ebay3392 RE: Atahualpa Mar 10, 2009 01:48 PM

                                                          It's in Yuppieville, so priced for Yuppies.

                                                        2. re: duckdown
                                                          e
                                                          ebay3392 RE: duckdown Mar 10, 2009 01:45 PM

                                                          I agree....being a backyard smoker I would need a blizzard to keep me from doing it myself verses paying those prices...btw, I get my pork when it goes on sale from Yuan Ming Supermaket in Mississauga.... $0.69/pp usually once per quarter, fresh not cryovac and I usually ask them to choose 7-8 pound butts, perfect for me...get as many as my freezer can handle...now if I can find a good packer grade brisket without the fat cap sliced off....

                                                        3. GoodGravy RE: Davwud Feb 24, 2009 07:22 AM

                                                          If this place has live music, chances are most diners will be sitting around longer to watch the show so the tables won't be turning over as fast as a regular ol' bbq joint. If that's the case, I can see the need for higher prices to make up for the lower turn over, fewer plates served and the musicians salaries. For a night out w/ some food and entertainment, the prices are reasonable as long as the bands are good.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: GoodGravy
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                                                            Snarf RE: GoodGravy Feb 24, 2009 07:48 AM

                                                            Or maybe the goal is to keep people in their seats drinking after the time the eaters usually go home. Many places like this in Chicago that seem to do well.

                                                            1. re: GoodGravy
                                                              OnDaGo RE: GoodGravy Feb 24, 2009 08:52 AM

                                                              I am assuming the live music will be upstairs and the main dining dowbstairs so they should not interfere too much with each other...

                                                              1. re: OnDaGo
                                                                Davwud RE: OnDaGo Feb 24, 2009 10:39 AM

                                                                Live music is upstairs.

                                                                DT

                                                                1. re: Davwud
                                                                  s
                                                                  Sadistick RE: Davwud Feb 24, 2009 11:18 AM

                                                                  Live music as an excuse as to why their prices are off mark? I would gladly forgo the music and get a $6-7 PP Sammy.

                                                                  Dont get me wrong, the economy is not the reason why I mention this, but if restaurants want to survive their first year, they need to have a better understanding of the market and their price niche.

                                                                  And to the poster who believes places on Bayview have to charge extra or they will go belly up as people feel they need to pay more....*rolls eyes*

                                                                  1. re: Sadistick
                                                                    t
                                                                    torontofoodiegirl RE: Sadistick Feb 25, 2009 08:32 AM

                                                                    My impression of the market and price niche on Bayview is that it's a clientele that would happily pay $10 for a sandwich (especially with live music to accompany it). I assume, BTW, that the sandwich price includes a side.

                                                                    1. re: torontofoodiegirl
                                                                      Davwud RE: torontofoodiegirl Feb 25, 2009 08:35 AM

                                                                      It doesn't seem to. The menu says nothing about what comes with your $10 sandwich.

                                                                      DT

                                                            2. Davwud RE: Davwud Feb 25, 2009 06:34 AM

                                                              They say they'll be open today at 11:30.

                                                              DT

                                                              14 Replies
                                                              1. re: Davwud
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                                                                magic RE: Davwud Feb 25, 2009 06:51 AM

                                                                I eagerly look fwd to the reports. I might wait a bit till they get their legs, so to speak. But I don’t want to wait too long: )

                                                                1. re: magic
                                                                  Davwud RE: magic Feb 25, 2009 06:57 AM

                                                                  I'm trying to figure out if I want to go for lunch. I'm leaning towards yes but am not sure yet.

                                                                  DT

                                                                  1. re: Davwud
                                                                    m
                                                                    magic RE: Davwud Feb 25, 2009 07:10 AM

                                                                    I think we all know the answer is yes : )

                                                                    1. re: magic
                                                                      Davwud RE: magic Feb 25, 2009 08:32 AM

                                                                      No.

                                                                      Papa Ceo's. I wasn't expecting H61 to be open. I was expecting to eat pizza so was geared up for that. I was also closer to PC.

                                                                      DT

                                                                      1. re: Davwud
                                                                        m
                                                                        magic RE: Davwud Feb 25, 2009 10:03 AM

                                                                        Cheers. Whatever you had, hope it was most tasty.

                                                                        1. re: magic
                                                                          r
                                                                          robb RE: magic Feb 25, 2009 10:37 AM

                                                                          Well let the games begin-Let me preface by advising that I make great smoked, slow cooked ribs and pulled pork (pardon the modesty), and have travelled a fair bit in the south. Happen to be driving up Bayview about an hour a go and saw the "Now Open" sign at highway 61. Needed something to go. Was greeted by a friendly and quite cute hostess who offered a takeout menu. While seated, another cute waitress brought over a glass of unsolicited ice water in a mason jar. So far so good. I decide on the Memphis Mini Platter-quarter chicken, three ribs, and a heap of pulled pork. Brisket is another option instead of the pork. Also includes one side and I order the fries well done. You have a choice to order the meat saucy or dry, the way Texans like it, with sauce on the side . I order Texas style.Meanwhile, I happen to notice about 3 other cute waitresses hanging around-so far so good. While sitting detect no recognizable smell of smoke, however it takes a good 15 minutes for my order. Back in the car, open up the fires, appear hand-cut. Not well-done like I had ordered but still pretty good and dusted iwth a spicy paprika or cayenne. Get home open up the pack-and there is no sauce. They have included a complimentary container of beans (which happen to be the best of all. Chicken is beyond dry and totally bland, ribs are side ribs, moist, too fall off-the bone and also bland. Where's the dry rub-tast odf smoke? Pork is alright but again, very bland. I need sauce!!! And the meat needs a more pronounced dry rub for the smoker. Portion size is quite good but for $23.00 including tax, it should be. Right now, I am staring at a pretty much full container of pork, ribs, and chicken and an empty container of beans. I called the restaurant to advise that no sauce was included. The same cute waitress who served me answered, asked itf I live by (I don't). I explained theat the integral part of BBQ is the sauce- and she said sorry. So am I. Ya think on it's first day they may be slightly more remourseful and maybe offer a free combo next tme in. Nope. Was there twice today...first and last. So disappointed!!!

                                                                          1. re: robb
                                                                            Muffin__Top RE: robb Feb 25, 2009 10:45 AM

                                                                            I'm disappointed to hear about that!! I was gonna surprise the SO with some BBQ after a long week of work but now what am I gonna do!!?

                                                                            1. re: robb
                                                                              Pastryrocks RE: robb Feb 25, 2009 10:49 AM

                                                                              Yea, it might take a week or so to get everything and everyone in order. But the food should be almost good from the start. You always do a small test run with what you are doing, just to get an idea of what the oven/smoker and space is like.
                                                                              Even though it is really early, this is not a good sign. I'm going to wait a few weeks to see what happens.

                                                                              1. re: Pastryrocks
                                                                                i
                                                                                iamafoodie RE: Pastryrocks Feb 26, 2009 04:03 AM

                                                                                No smoke, Robb? Dry food? Sounds like BBQ novices.
                                                                                Pastry is so right, any really good restaurant gets it right on opening day. The staff are all freshly trained and at their peak of keeness. Every order ought to be double checked as you only get one first chance to impress. Management has dropped the ball on opening day.

                                                                                Maybe they have taken the "Earl's" approach to restaurant management. Hire beauty, not competence; over promise, over price, under deliver and smile sweetly.

                                                                              2. re: robb
                                                                                k
                                                                                KevinB RE: robb Feb 25, 2009 12:35 PM

                                                                                Run, do not walk, to your nearest video store, and get a copy of "Lethal Weapon II". Pay particular attention to Joe Pesci's comments after they leave the drive-through. Same thing applies to take-out.

                                                                                I feel for your disappointment, but how long would it have taken you to check your order? The only place I never check is our local Chinese delivery, which has never messed up in nearly twenty years. Everywhere else - even if I'm only ordering a Whopper Jr. - I still check to make sure there are napkins, etc.

                                                                                And especially on opening day?! If there was any single day that things would NOT run smoothly, don't you might think this might be it? As someone else said "We are the authors of our own misfortune".

                                                                                1. re: KevinB
                                                                                  r
                                                                                  robb RE: KevinB Feb 25, 2009 12:57 PM

                                                                                  As mentioned in my post, they included a complimentary container of beans (unannounced) which I perceived, to be sauce, by touch, considering the conical shape-who knew it was beans. It's not like the place was busy. There was exactly one table with 2 people and about 12 staff. I have a quote for you-"You have once chance to make a fist impression". Had the waitress, who came back to the phone, after confriming with the kitchen, that no sauce was included, been even a little sympathetic and offered to take care of my next order, I may have been more forgiving, especially in lieu of opening day. But she really didn't care. More importantly the meat just wasn't that good. Fairy dry, grey in colour and bland in taste. Asisde from the beans, everything, includoing the customer service was very average.

                                                                                  1. re: robb
                                                                                    OnDaGo RE: robb Feb 25, 2009 03:26 PM

                                                                                    Maybe the kitchen guy made the same mistake as you .. first day on the job.. grabbed the beans thought it was suace :-),,

                                                                                    Ususally girls who answer the phone.. no matter how cute they are have to power to give freebies.. first day on the job probably was more concerned she would be fired then to ask a manager what to do...

                                                                                    Also if the places is overly "stacked" with cute girls on opening day then most likely they hired by other means then looking at experience.. bad sign for customer service..

                                                                                2. re: robb
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                                                                                  goodcookiedrift RE: robb Feb 25, 2009 01:04 PM

                                                                                  You know in Memphis, the key to their barbecue is the rub. Dry all the way. The whole mantra down there is that your rub + smoke will be ten times better than any wet-mop. Maybe this is what they were aiming for?

                                                                                  On a side note, It's funny that they would have "Texas style pork" because all the people I know from Texas would always quip "what's a pork?".

                                                                                  1. re: robb
                                                                                    tawnyport RE: robb Feb 25, 2009 07:46 PM

                                                                                    How di you order your ribs, Dry or sticky?

                                                                      2. tawnyport RE: Davwud Feb 25, 2009 10:44 AM

                                                                        Highway 61 Southern Barbeque First report. Very good with minor points for discussion.
                                                                        The Smokestack Lightnin’ Signature Pork side ribs [12 7” ribs with two, full size, sides] and the Sonny Boy’s Smoked brisket sandwich [with one, full size, side] were excellent. The ribs [sticky style, not dry style] were hot juicy and tender. They almost fell off the bone. The Yukon Gold fries appear to be made in house and have a sprinkling of Cayenne pepper (a bit to spicy for the wife) The Buttermilk onion rings were crisp but not a large ring of onion inside, mostly batter. The beef brisket was tender and tasty but a little to dry for the wife. While you could taste the apple in the sweet potato & apple mash, it wasn't anything special. We did not try the pulled pork. We will next time.
                                                                        There are eight or more draft beers available [half pint, pint and pitcher].
                                                                        We ate 10 of the 12 ribs and took two home for supper.
                                                                        FYI all of the sandwiches, mostly $9.49, come with one full size side. The 3, 6 and 9 bone ribs come with one full size side.
                                                                        There is additional room upstairs at 1620 Bayview Avenue [west side just south of Manor Road] 416-489-7427
                                                                        Open today at 11:30 am, hours not yet determined.
                                                                        Add this one to the short list in the GTA/ Memphis in Woodbridge for long ribs, chicken wings and pulled pork [Monday whole rack special] and BusterRhino’s in Whitby for short ribs, pulled pork and brisket [Friday full meal special].
                                                                        We most certainly shall return.

                                                                         
                                                                         
                                                                         
                                                                         
                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: tawnyport
                                                                          ChalkBoy RE: tawnyport Feb 25, 2009 10:51 AM

                                                                          Second report. Robb above beat you by seven minutes!

                                                                          1. re: ChalkBoy
                                                                            tawnyport RE: ChalkBoy Feb 25, 2009 07:45 PM

                                                                            Sorry it took me a while to compose my posting. When I started it was the first one but Robb ended his before I did. So i'm second. That's okay too. And I had to edit the photos to boot.

                                                                        2. s
                                                                          sbug206 RE: Davwud Feb 25, 2009 04:03 PM

                                                                          Third Report......

                                                                          I and my friend were perhaps the table of 2 that Robb saw. I'm not a BBQ expert but I've been to most of the ones in Toronto. We ordered the combo platter for 2. It came with 3 pieces of ribs, a mound of pulled pork, a pile of brisket and 2 very sizeable chicken quarters, easily twice the meat of Swiss Chalet pieces. I found the ribs to be the best, very tender and fall off the bone but without the boiled texture of places like Baton Rouge. The pulled pork was a bit dry and bland, although i guess if the meat didn't come from an outside piece then that's to be expected. The brisket was very moist but also bland. Same thing for the chicken, although very tender and fall off the bone, there was no seasoning to it. Luckily they provide a bottle of BBQ sauce for you to add yourself. I'm not too sure about the sauce, it was like half the strength of what you'd find at other places and seemed to be tomatoe based with some kind of spice in it. The combo comes with your choice of 2 sides and we chose the baked beans and onion rings. The baked beans were really good, nice subtle sweet smokey flavour and good chunks of pork thrown in. The onion rings were very crispy and battered like extra crispy fried chicken, ie. crunchy coating. However the onion was a bit thin so you mostly tasted batter and once again it needed some seasoning in the batter. I'm fairly ambivalent about my experience. For $30 we got more than we could finish but it could definitely use some seasoning. I may give it a second chance if I'm in the area but I won't go out of my way for it.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: sbug206
                                                                            tawnyport RE: sbug206 Feb 25, 2009 07:44 PM

                                                                            How did you order your ribs, dry or sticky?

                                                                            1. re: tawnyport
                                                                              s
                                                                              sbug206 RE: tawnyport Feb 25, 2009 08:03 PM

                                                                              Sticky.

                                                                          2. s
                                                                            Snarf RE: Davwud Feb 25, 2009 04:14 PM

                                                                            Partial Review

                                                                            Went this evening with a group, and was somewhat astonished to find lights out on the whole Bayview strip. Power was out to all. The restaurant gamely stayed open, greeting people with the caveat that the menu was limited and that they only had so many minutes until the smoked foods would no longer be warm enough to serve.

                                                                            To comment in detail on the food at this point would be unfair, and frankly impossible, as the complete menu wasn't available, not to mention that it was difficult to see. The brisked tasted delicious, with very tender texture, and the beans were very good as well.

                                                                            As a couple of people have commented on the staff, I'll give my own impression. The people that happened by the table were very good at making recommendations and encouragements, and they made an effort to accomodate one of my daughters' requests to invent a triple smoked bacon sandwich. They were also enthusiastic about what they were doing, and very much converted to the religion of BBQ. They've definitely got the customer service portion down, and the right attitude.

                                                                            I noticed that a table that had clearly been there since before the outage was comped their meal. We knew what we were getting into when we walked through the door, ordered wine and beer, and explained that we were content with the limitations on the menu from the power failure, but they insisted on comping our meals as well. (We made sure to take care of the server, which I think is what you should do when this happens)

                                                                            I would go back, not simply to give them a second first chance, but because what we saw and had warrants a repeat.

                                                                            Note to the good folks at the restaurant: Either of the home-smoked bacon sides could be put on buns to make sandwiches that could be stand-alone, and probably very popular items.

                                                                            1. duckdown RE: Davwud Feb 25, 2009 08:02 PM

                                                                              Anyone try the ridiculous $10 pulled pork sandwich?

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: duckdown
                                                                                tawnyport RE: duckdown Feb 25, 2009 09:48 PM

                                                                                No. But we did try the Brisket sandwich. All sandwiches come with one side: order fries, rings, coleslaw etc. So the price is not that ridiculous as there is a half a pound of meat in it. A corned beef sandwich at Pancers is $6.95 for a much smaller sandwich and without a side order. Not defending. Just explaining.

                                                                                1. re: tawnyport
                                                                                  duckdown RE: tawnyport Feb 25, 2009 11:40 PM

                                                                                  ah, okay

                                                                                  thanks then

                                                                              2. Rudiger RE: Davwud Feb 26, 2009 05:32 PM

                                                                                Just came back. I'll be brief.

                                                                                I own two smokers. I enjoy bbq. Pecan wood is my favourite. I'm probably not the target market for this restaurant.

                                                                                Waiter was constantly reminding us that this was both his and the restaurants first night. :-| Staff was nice overall, no complaints there. I find the venue gimmicky, but cute. Although a tad over thought. More emphasis should have been on the food and authenticity (strawberry salad? glorified garden salad? no thanks).

                                                                                I ordered the smoked wings, BB King plate, sides of corn bread, beans and sweet potato fries.

                                                                                Their bbq sauce isn't bad. Not my favourite, but it didn't turn me off. Bottle of Tobasco on the table? Really? Can't have a cute lesser known American hot sauce? Really? Not even the chipotle Tobasco? Can't make your own? Can't even use your wing sauce?

                                                                                Smoked wings, flavoured medium and prairie fire. Could hardly taste the smoke but the texture of wings identified them as being smoked.. or at least baked. Not bad wings, nor the sauce, which wasn't overly vinegar either. Could have been cooked longer in my opinion, I prefer a crispier skin on my smoked chicken, or perhaps finished over the bbq longer. The size of the wings was on the small side with average blue cheese dipping sauce. Overall, average wings, nothing to write home about.

                                                                                BB King plate sans beef rib (out of stock). Ordered dry.

                                                                                WHERE'S THE SMOKE RING? WHERE'S THE RUB?

                                                                                The chicken was the most smoked of the bunch. Not bad, but it NEEDED A RUB. You could taste the smoke, which was nice, but the skin still needed some crisp too it (fat was still present). Otherwise, it tasted like decent smoked chicken without a rub.

                                                                                Pork and brisket were both kind of dry and lacking in the smoke department. The brisket lacked more smoke than the pork. Both needed RUB. I applied ample amounts of sauce.

                                                                                The pork ribs also lacked smoke and were overcooked for my liking. Falling off the bone a little too much (who complains about too tender pork ribs? I do, pork ribs are naturally fatty, so they'll always be moist, don't bring up how moist they were, THEY'RE LOADED WITH FAT). So the ribs were fatty, needed a rub, lacked smoke.

                                                                                Cornbread needed more fat, but was a moderate attempt. You could taste the jalapeño which was nice, but it's sad that the best cornbread in the city is from Whole Foods (or my skillet, but you folks can't buy that).

                                                                                Beans were okay, I don't like molasses that much, but with that in mind, it didn't turn me off. Kind of like gingerbread baked beans. I added some bbq sauce and pepper to the beans and that added a nice little vinegar kick to them.

                                                                                Sweet potato fries were also alright. Could have been cooked more. Seasoning was alright as well. Rosemary I think was the herb on them.

                                                                                Overall, I won't be returning, but again, I don't think I'm the target market. Those that don't know good bbq will eat it up I'm sure. I don't think the prices are that bad, considering the area. Also, their beer prices aren't bad either, but...

                                                                                WHERE ARE THE AMERICAN BREWS? WHERE'S THE WIDE SELECTION OF BOURBON?

                                                                                I was pretty pessimistic going into Highway 61 and I was still somewhat underwhelmed. Fortunately, it's getting warmer and I plan on using my gas smoker tomorrow to cure this unfulfilled bbq boy’s soul.

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Rudiger
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                                                                                  elrik RE: Rudiger Feb 27, 2009 06:06 AM

                                                                                  I'll throw in my two cents from last night.

                                                                                  For background, I also own 2 smokers, and while I haven't been all over the south, I am in Atlanta quite often, and always enjoy the BBQ there. My wife does not eat pork, so one of the things we love the most about Atlanta is the amount of BBQ beef that they do there. It is also one of our biggest gripes here as most BBQ means pork or chicken. For Toronto area restaurants we have hit Memphis on Young as well as Phil's. Waiting to try Buster Rhino's, but weekdays and Whitby don't really mix for me. That being said on to the review.

                                                                                  We had myself, my brother-in-law, my wife and two kids (5 and 1 1/2). First off, I have to disagree with Rudiger. I loved the fact that the place has only local Ontario craft brews on tap (and a nice varied selection at that), I would rather support local talent then take boring American brews for the sake of keeping to a theme. To start we had the fried green tomatoes. They were tasty but could have done with having the coating get a little bit crisper. The batter did have a hint of heat to it which was nice. BiL and I ordered the Joe Turner combo with sweet potato fries and collard greens, my wife ordered the brisket sandwhich and spf, and son got the mac and cheese. For the prices, both the combo and the sandwhich were pretty generous portion wise. We did have an issue with the size of the kids Mac&Cheese, as it was basically the same as getting a side of it with your meal. Since our son was a little under the weather it didn't matter for him, but I can imagine an older child would still be very hungry after eating it. Though a lil small in the portion size, it was tasty.

                                                                                  I will agree with other's assesments of the ribs in that they were too soft and weren't smoked or rubbed enough. I also found the pulled pork a little dry and underseasoned, but was good in that it wasn't tough or chewy. The chicken was quite nice. Both the dark and white meat were nice and moist and as Rudiger stated was the most smoked tasting of the options. I found the chicken at Memphis to be very dry and this was definately a step up, though it would have been even better if it had a more generous application of rub. The brisket was far and away superior to what they serve at Phil's and Memphis. While it was a little dry, I thought it had a perfect amount of fat left on, and while some of the slices from the middle of the brisket were a bit lacking in the smoke and rub tastes, I found the pieces from near the ends were delicious and had a lot of smoke flavor and a good hit of crispy rub. My wife also quite liked the brisket from her sandwich and has declared it the best BBQ beef she has had at a restaurant here in TO. While most people have complained about the dryness of the brisket, it really didn't bother us at all. I think the reason for this is that our main experience with BBQ beef (outside of ribs) is from Atlanta, and in Atlanta they generally smoke big sirloins as opposed to brisket. This results in a relatively dry meat, and the point is to moisten it with the sauce, which is what we did with the brisket at Hwy 61. Speaking of sauce, we all quite liked the sauce at hwy 61. It was somewhat reminiscent of a jar of Arthur Bryant's sauce that we have at home in that it was heavy on the tomato with smoky paprika hits. I would say it's a bit more balanced to the sweet tomato then Arthur Bryant's though which makes it a more rounded sauce.

                                                                                  The sweet potato fries were pretty good. Ours were cooked well and we liked the seasoning. It wasn't too spicy that the baby couldn't eat them, but it was still nice to have a tickle of Cayenne in there while you were eating them. The collard greens were very interesting and some of the best I have had. I get them all the time in Atlanta, and am used to them in a slightly acidic liquid with good chunks of meat. Hwy 61s had the chunks of smoked bacon, but liquid was completely different. It tasted more like a combination of beef broth and very caramelized onions and was delicious. I heartily recommend them to anyone else who tries the restaurant out.

                                                                                  One important thing to note, our waitress kept asking us how we were liked everything and we gave her our opinion regarding the need for more rub and more smoke flavor on the pork items. Judging by her reaction, the majority of people have been making these comments to them and I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't some tweaking on these items in the next little while.

                                                                                  4 beers, three adults filled to bursting an appetizer and a kids meal and the bill came out to $85 before tip. Not a bad price at all. Can I make better BBQ at home? Yes. Do I always want to spend that much time cooking every time I get a craving? No.

                                                                                  So far this is the best BBQ beef we've had from a restaurant that is within a reasonable enough distance of our house to go for dinner with the kids (we live in south scarborough so newmarket and west end are just too far). Can they improve, yes, but I think they have a good starting point.

                                                                                  1. re: elrik
                                                                                    j
                                                                                    julesrules RE: elrik Feb 28, 2009 06:38 AM

                                                                                    I'm a big supporter of Ontario Micros but to claim that American brews are boring.... just not true! A rotating American tap or two would be a great addition to this kind of place.

                                                                                    1. re: elrik
                                                                                      pinstripeprincess RE: elrik Mar 2, 2009 07:14 AM

                                                                                      i'd like to know what american microbrews you've tried... the last thing i've heard from anyone who doesn't generally like them is that they're bland. most describe them as having much too much of an american style to them that involved loads and loads of hops and other flavours. essentially that they're too big and lack any subtlety or balance.

                                                                                      i would love to drop into a bar and have rogue, flying fish, or harpoon on tap. if only the canadian ones could match up then i'd be happy to support. in the meantime they've got a long way to go still.

                                                                                      1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                                        OnDaGo RE: pinstripeprincess Mar 2, 2009 07:54 AM

                                                                                        I do not even think that Southern US micro brews are available in Toronto, I assumed Rudiger was talking mainstream US beers that he wanted with the ribs..

                                                                                        1. re: OnDaGo
                                                                                          e
                                                                                          elrik RE: OnDaGo Mar 2, 2009 09:58 AM

                                                                                          That is the meaning I took from Rudiger's comment as well and was the basis for my reply. None of the BBQ places I have been to in the states have ever had anything but staples on tap, and since Rudiger was talking about southern authenticity, that's what I went by. Also, I would imagine a restaurant would have to charge a fair bit to get American microbrews on tap here in TO making it pretty unfeasible, and I would rather the ontario micro brews to Bud, Coors, Miller and the like any day.

                                                                                  2. Muffin__Top RE: Davwud Feb 27, 2009 05:00 PM

                                                                                    Is there a reason you can only get only two of the burgers??

                                                                                    I am planning to go tomorrow around 530 if anybody is in!

                                                                                    1. helen0505 RE: Davwud Feb 28, 2009 05:24 AM

                                                                                      I went there last night with my fiancee and it was a very good meal. we ordered the memphis minnie with brisket and a side of sweet potato fries (they call it a side but its really a large basket) and a pulled pork sandwich with onion rings on the side. At first I was thrown off by the fact that theres only 3 ribs but then when it came, i realized that i was way wrong as the ribs are huge and we only ate 2 of them among the other stuff we ordered. We dont normally take left overs home but we had to last night as there was just too much food. My fav item was actually the onion rings...they were spectacular! they're about a donut's size and when you bit into it, theres a sauce inside. its true that the items are not seasoned enough but the quality of meat is really good and the bbq sauce on the table is great as well. the chicken was fantastic and the most moist chicken I have ever had. The pulled pork sandwich was very good...it looks small but they really pile on the pulled pork and after eating half of it, i was pretty full.

                                                                                      Personally, I like this place more than Phil's and plan on returning for the flinstone size beef ribs. they did a great job with the decor but there was no live music that others had mentioned.

                                                                                      1. Muffin__Top RE: Davwud Feb 28, 2009 07:23 PM

                                                                                        Hey everyone, My SO and I went tonight and ordered the BB King, the place was extremely full, with young families

                                                                                        I don't know about the poster above me who said the Memphis Minnie was too much food b/c it seems in comparison I have a healthy appetite. I weigh 125 lbs and I thought I could finish the entire BB King by myself and subsequently go to Hollywood Gelato (which I did after)

                                                                                        The Good:

                                                                                        Sweet potato fries, crisp, delicious, well seasoned, slightly spicy
                                                                                        BBQ Sauce - molassesy, tomato paste based, thick, sweet, pretty decent bbq sauce

                                                                                        The Bad:

                                                                                        The chicken breast was quite dry I had to douse it with the BBQ sauce; the dark meat was a bit better but at best the chicken was slightly better than what I would get at Swiss Chalet.

                                                                                        So I figured for $5.50 the steamed vegetables would come in large bountiful quantities but instead I got two pieces of broccoli and cauliflower with one SLICE of a carrot. It was steamed beyond softness probably for like... half an hour, I just doused them in the BBQ sauce as usual =P

                                                                                        The server was nice and friendly however he informed me that beef brisket was not available tonight =( and thought there was apple crumble pie but there actually wasn't - hence the trip to Hollywood Gelato.

                                                                                        The pulled pork had a bit of juice, but was mostly unseasoned making it bland, tasteless and could use way more seasoning/flavour.

                                                                                        Now, the Ugly:

                                                                                        The pork ribs were HORRRRRRRRRRRIBLE. I have never eaten such a dry unbountiful rib in my entire life !! I feel like they discriminated against my skinniness and gave me the smallest three bones of ribs they could find! I saw a three year old child with bigger ribs than what I got. Anyways, the rub - was meh, I had to pick off all the fat parts, leaving literally close to no meat behind, but what was left was extremely dry and chewy.

                                                                                        Nice TV's though.

                                                                                        Oh and the waitresses, hostess was "cute" =D

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Muffin__Top
                                                                                          r
                                                                                          robb RE: Muffin__Top Mar 1, 2009 05:32 AM

                                                                                          What flavors did you get at Holoywwod? I love the pies, coconut crean, key lime the berries and the chocolate bars-twixx especially!!

                                                                                          1. re: robb
                                                                                            Muffin__Top RE: robb Mar 1, 2009 06:00 AM

                                                                                            Coconut cream pie, Peanut Butter (best PB ever) and Creme Caramel flavour

                                                                                            SO GOOD

                                                                                            I also got the apple crumble pie - I would be willing to travel from downtown just for Hollywood

                                                                                          2. re: Muffin__Top
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                                                                                            Pizza Lover RE: Muffin__Top Mar 1, 2009 07:22 AM

                                                                                            Muffin Top - I wonder if you got the ribs we sent back last night :) I second your review.

                                                                                            Was in the area last night and decided to check it out. The place has nice ambiance in that contrived sort of way but the food was abysmal.

                                                                                            Good onion rings.

                                                                                            Awful hamburger, medicore portobello mushroom/goat cheese contraption and my oh my they should be ashamed of themselves for what they tried to pass off as ribs - super dry, unseasoned and as flavorfull as drywall.

                                                                                            We sent the ribs back, went to Hollywood Gelato and are not in any rush to visit the Highyway any time soon.

                                                                                          3. LovelyAsia RE: Davwud Mar 1, 2009 10:42 AM

                                                                                            Personally I don't think Toronto will ever have authentic Southern BBQ - for one very important reason - we don't have the southern mentality... and I am talking about BOTH the people running the restaurants AND the customers.

                                                                                            As mentioned in other posts - down south, when they are out of food, that is it for the day. People don't whine and complain and say they will never be back - they go back the next day and make sure to get there early!

                                                                                            The best southern BBQ comes from little hole in the wall places, not fancy yuppy havens like the Bayview strip.

                                                                                            Mostly, it is about the southern personalities - friendly, familiar, easy going, and caring about good food not about decor and location.

                                                                                            Also many of these places have had decades to reach the perfection they now serve daily.

                                                                                            I have friends in the south, and I find them so friendly and easy going, a refreshing change..

                                                                                            If you want real southern bbq - take a trip down south. If you don't want to travel, buy your own smoker and experiment and see how easy (NOT) it is to cook up great bbq.

                                                                                            Otherwise give these places a try without expecting an authentic experience because some things just can't be duplicated.

                                                                                            As with Caplansky's (thumbs up), Cluck (thumbs down), and Phil's (thumbs up on a good day, down on a bad day), my hubby and I are going to wait until the place settles down and see what they are like when they have had a chance to iron out all the little problems that come with opening a new restaurant.

                                                                                            I do hope those onion rings are as good as described!

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: LovelyAsia
                                                                                              Davwud RE: LovelyAsia Mar 1, 2009 11:18 AM

                                                                                              I think you can add one reason to the why not up here. The healthy and fire codes won't allow it.

                                                                                              Other than that, no disagreement from me. It's as much a mentality as an art form

                                                                                              DT

                                                                                              1. re: LovelyAsia
                                                                                                duckdown RE: LovelyAsia Mar 1, 2009 11:40 AM

                                                                                                I definitely think the customers have alot to do with it.. For some reason it seems that people here in Toronto just aren't willing to give BBQ a shot. I just can't figure out why... Maybe because its expensive.. but I'm not sure. It's always been this way, even when we do have a place that does a pretty good job. I liked RUB in Woodbridge but it just seems like people simply aren't interested in eating it

                                                                                              2. r
                                                                                                Raquel RE: Davwud Mar 1, 2009 02:50 PM

                                                                                                A friend mentioned to me that one of the owners is an ex-SIR Corp employee...that of Jack Astor's fame--and I think that's interesting to note as the concept seems, although trying to be authentic to BBQ, is in the casual style of dining. If that's the case, I guess it's to be expected that some of the Jack Astors-ish-chainy "stuff" will be incorporated into this space......cute girls and all. Sometimes, that's not a bad thing since those places, while we can debate their food quality, are pretty good at customer service and as much as I don't like it, do seem awfully busy all the time.

                                                                                                And as for LovelyAsia's post...I couldn't agree with you more. Everything you said is IMO dead on. Which is why I do get my fill of authentic BBQ in the South. I have never even been to Phil's or any other place here because I know that I will most surely be disappointed. Once you've had the real thing, why bother.

                                                                                                Now, having said all of the above, I do wish them luck and hope they find their niche on Bayview a success. But unfortunately, I don't think they'll be seeing me.

                                                                                                1. b
                                                                                                  bogie RE: Davwud Mar 2, 2009 01:35 PM

                                                                                                  My wife and I visited early Friday night. I'm sorry to report that we were mostly disappointed in the food. The food was nicely smoky, but everything on our BB King platter was severely overcooked. The beef brisket was cut thick, but fell apart into crispy little bits. Similarly, the Flinstone beef rib was SO overdone it was completely crisped on the outside and largely inedible. The Chicken was quite dry. The pulled pork and side ribs were the most edible elements of our meal, probably because their high fat content helped them stand up to the overcooking a little better. The side ribs were somewhat fatty, but they were quite meaty too. The meat on the ribs was falling of the bone a little too easily due to overcooking and this made them quite difficult to eat as every time you picked up a rib, the meat slid right off of it! The pulled pork was enjoyable, though, very smoky and moist. We ordered our platter Texas style, with sauce on the side. The really strange thing about the food here is that the meat, although smoky, was quite bland on it's own. Same for their sauce. However, when you ate them together, the sum was better than the parts so to speak. We had jalapeno cornbread, beans and sweet potato fries for our sides. The cornbread was a bit too crisp, sightly dry and seem to have a bit too much baking powder. Beans were tasty, but underseasoned and undersalted. The sweet potato fries, however, were outstanding and blessedly uncoated.

                                                                                                  I will return in the future to try a burger, planked salmon, catfish and more of those addictive sweet potato fries. However, I won't be returning to eat barbeque unless they improve it dramatically.

                                                                                                  17 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: bogie
                                                                                                    OnDaGo RE: bogie Mar 2, 2009 01:57 PM

                                                                                                    I don't know why a BBQ place even has a burger and Salmon (well maybe smoked Salmon) I would not dilute the product.. if you want to add more variety maybe do a Natchos with bulled pork or a Southern Chili with smoked meat.. Do everything you can to sell more of the core meats so you can allways have the fresh stuff for eating on its own..

                                                                                                    1. re: OnDaGo
                                                                                                      b
                                                                                                      bogie RE: OnDaGo Mar 2, 2009 02:09 PM

                                                                                                      I agree, but these were actually some of the tastiest looking meals that we saw coming out of their kitchen.

                                                                                                    2. re: bogie
                                                                                                      jayt90 RE: bogie Mar 2, 2009 02:13 PM

                                                                                                      These reviews are mixed, and it seems that many things are well cooked, (ed. overcooked) and held, to the point of no return.

                                                                                                      If someone says succulent, sweet BBQ, I'll go. So far, only tawnyport and helen0505 are leaning that way.

                                                                                                      1. re: jayt90
                                                                                                        m
                                                                                                        magic RE: jayt90 Mar 2, 2009 02:25 PM

                                                                                                        Mixed? That's being generous I'd say. The impression given of this place so far has not been flattering at all. I was hopeful and eager before the opening.... now, there's no rush to get there soon. If at all.

                                                                                                        1. re: magic
                                                                                                          Davwud RE: magic Mar 2, 2009 02:57 PM

                                                                                                          I completely agree.

                                                                                                          DT

                                                                                                          1. re: Davwud
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                                                                                                            elrik RE: Davwud Mar 3, 2009 04:35 AM

                                                                                                            From the sounds of the reviews, the food on Weds and Thurs was cooked the proper length of time (nothing we had on Thurs was dry), and Friday was overcooked. The people who had on Friday all point to there being more smoke flavor in the items that those of us who gave earlier reviews said were not smoky enough. I would take this as an indication that they are listening and trying to find a balancing point, and that on Friday they just erred in cooking the food too long. Keep giving them critiques when you are there and give them time to catch their stride and figure out how best to run their smokers. If they are still having these issues in a month, then it's probably a lost cause, but at least until then, I will still give them the benefit of the doubt.

                                                                                                            1. re: elrik
                                                                                                              Davwud RE: elrik Mar 3, 2009 05:36 AM

                                                                                                              In a month?? Do you have any idea how long it takes to perfect this kinda cooking?? I'm only just now figuring out how to do ribs in a way that I like and I've had a smoker for 8 years. Granted I'm not doing them every day but I also only get my own feed back.

                                                                                                              DT

                                                                                                              1. re: Davwud
                                                                                                                a
                                                                                                                acd123 RE: Davwud Mar 3, 2009 06:23 AM

                                                                                                                Would it be too much to ask for these owners to perfect their craft prior to opening their restaurant? C'mon, if you open a southern BBQ, the customers assume that you have the background required to serve proper Southern BBQ. And how to work their bloody smokers. If their BBQ isn't great, why do it? To cash in on our lust for something that TO doesn't do very well? We all know that doesn't work (think CG&L). I'm tired of this. I will not get excited about another southern BBQ in TO with promises of the real deal.

                                                                                                                I want to try Buster Rhino's but it's way too far.

                                                                                                                1. re: acd123
                                                                                                                  OnDaGo RE: acd123 Mar 3, 2009 06:36 AM

                                                                                                                  I think one issue is that they are trying to adjust to the customers who are complaining.. they seemed to have started with lightly smoked meats which they tested and perfected.. probably thinking that would suit the majority of the clients... then they pened and teh chows started bitching that there was not enough smoke.. so alll of a sudden they had to change on the fly.. result overcooking & dry.. they should have stuck with teh original recipe and slowly try test batches to increase the smoke taste... if 1 percent of the customers complain sometimes that means that 99% are happy!

                                                                                                                2. re: Davwud
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                                                                                                                  embee RE: Davwud Mar 3, 2009 07:06 AM

                                                                                                                  These are supposedly professionals with the desire and ability to do it right. Sure they need time, which is why I'm in no hurry to go there, but the size and scope of the menu gives me pause.

                                                                                                                  This is an expensive, two floor operation in a high rent area - not a one man shoestring operation like Caplansky's. There is, presumably, some capital behind it. They should have learned from the mistakes made by CG&L. I would cut them a lot of slack on service glitches, food availability, and such. I'm less forgiving about the food itself.

                                                                                                                  There is no way they could perfect this extensive a menu in a month. They shouldn't have even attempted it. That said, I would have expected these guys to have their most basic signature dishes (brisket, chicken, and one kind of pork rib prep) thoroughly tested, debugged, and ready to go from day 1.

                                                                                                                  As the owner of an automatic, electric smoker, I can state from experience that it ain't all that hard to make good tasting BBQ. I don't get smoke rings, but that doesn't affect flavour. I'm no pitmaster, but I doubt that Highway 61 is cooking in an open pit either.

                                                                                                                  It isn't as easy to hold it and reheat it successfully, but they could have, and should have, planned and tested and practiced in advance. There's a good reason why many of the South's most famous grease houses sell out and close every day. But there are restaurants all over the map that do it in suburban settings - and do it well.

                                                                                                                  Brisket and pork ribs aren't easy to cook. Getting a juicy smoked chicken breast with crisp skin on the table (yes, it can actually be done) is quite a feat. But they should have been ready, and they clearly aren't. They could have had a very soft opening, with reduced prices and a limited menu, to perfect their signature dishes.

                                                                                                                  I'd add that not all BBQ is difficult to do. That they can't get beef ribs right from the get go leaves me gobsmacked. These are prime rib bones and, unlike brisket, there are few cooking or holding complexities.

                                                                                                                  One of many possibilities: trim any excessive fat, rub with any decent dry rub, smoke for a couple of hours in a smoker held at 120F, and throw on a hot grill to crisp up when ordered. This serves up rare meat with good smoke and a crispy crust. What's so hard?

                                                                                                                  I really do hope they get it right, but I'm now counting the weeks until my smoker can come out. I'd still love to have a go to BBQ joint come next winter.

                                                                                                                  1. re: embee
                                                                                                                    OnDaGo RE: embee Mar 3, 2009 07:15 AM

                                                                                                                    I agree about the menu size from the things I see listed they are way over board on non core items especially while still trying to get the kinks out...

                                                                                                          2. re: jayt90
                                                                                                            helen0505 RE: jayt90 Mar 11, 2009 08:08 AM

                                                                                                            i am pretty surprised that so many people gave this place a negative review. i stand by what i said. that being said, i think maybe we just got lucky? we were there the 2nd day that it opened AND also, our table was right next to where the owner and his family sat (they heard us raving about the food and so we talked briefly.) so maybe, thats why the staff and kitchen and food were all top notch? the only complaint we had was that our food took a while to arrive...like after several tables that came after us. maybe thats why we got more/better food? that doesnt really make sense either.

                                                                                                            i dunno what happened really but i am a really picky eater and we enjoyed our meal quite a bit. so much so that we would still go back maybe in a couple of months despite all the negative reviews. I told my bf about all the negative reviews and he was quite surprised as well. also, i think people get so excited and let their expectations to go way high and beyond imaginable...of course those expectations are not met! thats kind of how i felt when i went to phils and was slightly disappointed. but seriously? no one promised this is going to be a meal that changes your life. its chicken and ribs and sandwiches after all. just my two cents.

                                                                                                            1. re: helen0505
                                                                                                              c
                                                                                                              CoffeeAddict416 RE: helen0505 Mar 11, 2009 08:18 AM

                                                                                                              i thought it was so-so but i didn't think it was exactly pricey either. I spent $20 total on 3 ribs, a split wings appetizer, and a pint of beer and shared three sides. That's not expensive by any estimation at all. That was with a 18% tip as well I believe.

                                                                                                              Would I go back? If i was in the area and wanted some beer, ribs, and chicken sure. I'm not running over there though.

                                                                                                              I have to agree that I found no smoke whatsoever in the chicken or ribs that I ate. I would not describe them as being dry though. Mine were really moist but lacking rub and smoke. I like their sauce but maybe it's because i'm a fan of worchestershire sauce :D

                                                                                                              1. re: helen0505
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                                                                                                                Pizza Lover RE: helen0505 Mar 11, 2009 09:03 AM

                                                                                                                I personally did not expect a life changing experience going to Highway 61 - but neither did I expect that this place would send out such inferior quality food - especially as they just opened and should be aiming to make the best first impression they can.

                                                                                                                1. re: Pizza Lover
                                                                                                                  Davwud RE: Pizza Lover Mar 11, 2009 10:06 AM

                                                                                                                  In fairness to them, when it come to BBQ in TO, it's a bit of a moving target to find people's palates.
                                                                                                                  Which goes back to Q up here as opposed to down yonder. Down yonder someone comes up with what they think is the be all and end all. Opens a restaurant and if you don't like it, too bad. Up here it's fine tune this, dial in that.

                                                                                                                  DT

                                                                                                                  1. re: Davwud
                                                                                                                    p
                                                                                                                    Pizza Lover RE: Davwud Mar 11, 2009 11:24 AM

                                                                                                                    The product that we received should in no way be served in any establishment - regardless of the city they're in.

                                                                                                                    Yes spicing can be adjusted but there's no excuse for sending out ribs that are dry as drywall (with flavour to match) and well beyond their shelf life in any restaurant that charges full price for their products.

                                                                                                                    If you name yourself Highway 61 - you ought at least to respect your customers and have quality control before and after you open.

                                                                                                                2. re: helen0505
                                                                                                                  helen0505 RE: helen0505 Apr 20, 2009 09:50 AM

                                                                                                                  alright, i feel like i need to update my review. no, i haven't gone back yet BUT i did visit Buster's Rhino....after that experience, i feel the need to revise my review.

                                                                                                                  Compare to your typical swiss chalet and montana's ribs...HWY 61 is great. Buster Rhino's ribs on the other hand, are at a whole different level...its not even comparable to HWY 61 because its so much better that its just unfair!

                                                                                                                  Would i go back to HWY 61? I think so! why? because they are open on the weekend, they have a bar, good atmosphere/decor/music and also amazing onion rings. While i am there, i'd probably order a pulled pork sandwich as well! but if you are in search of the best bbq place in town, i'd suggest you to drive to whitby for Buster Rhino!

                                                                                                            2. Pastryrocks RE: Davwud Mar 3, 2009 05:23 AM

                                                                                                              Over the years I’ve open up two places and of course there are always issues. But the food was good from the beginning. The reason for this was experience, those at the very least running the kitchen, chef, sous chef, pastry chef, all had experience, not just with the menu but also with the equipment. One should never open or start at a place with a menu or style of food that you are not familiar with. Also, with a new means to cook also requires some testing to get things right. And from the above reviews things are not right.

                                                                                                              It sounds to me that those in the kitchen are unsure of what they are doing if the posts here are to be used as an example. If the food goes from one day from being under smoked to being smoky and dry the next, then those running the kitchen either are not experienced or those posting have not experienced real BBQ, or a combination of both. But I fear it is those in the kitchen and not the posters.

                                                                                                              Holding cooked meat is always a trick to keep it hot or reheat and still keep it moist. The key to this is experience. Cooking steak or chicken breast to be severed later is something that is taught, but more important is something that is learnt through experience. Just because the means of applying heat is indirect and smoky, does not mean that rules do not apply.

                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Pastryrocks
                                                                                                                i
                                                                                                                iamafoodie RE: Pastryrocks Mar 3, 2009 07:11 AM

                                                                                                                Pastry, excellent observations and analysis. It sounds like training and management experience might well be an issue here and we Q enthusiasts have particularly high expectations which doesn't make it any easier. Surely they know there's amazing, food friendly hot holding equipment out there that is safe and easy to use.

                                                                                                                Too bad new restaurants are so often under-capitalized that they have to open before establishing their operating standards and systems requiring that we customers end up paying to be their "guinea pigs". I usually avoid a new restaurant for their first month or two just to skip their commissioning period. We shouldn't have to.

                                                                                                                What ever happened to the business basic of, "If you're not proud of it, don't serve it." ?
                                                                                                                Too often today it's, "Get them in, get their money and get them out." And somehow they survive if not downright thrive.

                                                                                                                I hope Highway 61 does well.

                                                                                                                1. re: Pastryrocks
                                                                                                                  1sweetpea RE: Pastryrocks Mar 3, 2009 09:08 AM

                                                                                                                  It probably IS too much to ask for the owners to perfect their craft completely before opening, since it will take a lot of trial and error, as well as cooking on a large scale, to nail the art of cooking everything to the right stage, then holding it at that point to be finished off later. What is NOT too much to ask is that the rubs and sauces be absolutely sensational ... and consistent. This should be an absolute science BEFORE the restaurant opens it doors for the very first time. It's absolutely insane that people are reporting such variations in seasoning from one day to the next. Quantity of rub seasoning should not be eyeballed by the chef. It should be measured and applied based on the weight of the briskets, pork butts, ribs, chickens, etc. As for the other items, how tough is it to get thermometers and timers, to control the quality of fries, onion rings, cornbread, etc.? They should be no-brainers. Sauces, slaws, salads and veggies rely on good ingredients and proper handling. This is not that difficult. Figure it out before opening day!

                                                                                                                  In my humble opinion, what should have been done is a pre-opening trial run, to help the restaurant iron out its kinks. Flyers and ads could have gone out offering 2 for 1 specials (or better) on everything for two weeks, in the hopes of bringing in willing tasters, who will fill out detailed comment cards as part of the deal. Hopefully, this would fill seats right away and give the kitchen some instant experience under pressure. Because it's a trial period, customers would be persuaded to return after the restaurant officially opens, to submit to another dining experience and comment card. I truly believe that if customers think they are part of the shaping of a great neighbourhood restaurant, they will make a point of patronizing it and helping it become a success.

                                                                                                                  1. re: 1sweetpea
                                                                                                                    Pastryrocks RE: 1sweetpea Mar 3, 2009 09:37 AM

                                                                                                                    Pulled pork is a standard in a BBQ restaurant; it is done different way thought-out the south, using different woods, different sauces, different rubs, and different buns. So are pork ribs, back or side ribs are used, again with using different woods, different sauces and different rubs. The little or big differences between different styles of BBQ and also different restaurants is a given. However, from the above posts it seems that the only thing consistent is inconsistency.

                                                                                                                    The mark of a good chef/cook, regardless of the food or level, is consistency. It should not matter that the place is new, what should matter does the kitchen know what they are doing. Not enough smoke, and then enough smoke but dry is not consistent, these are imo extremes. If I ordered a meat somewhere and it was dry I would not eat it. Any half-ass chef with some training and experience should be able to cook, hold and then serve meat that is not dry.

                                                                                                                    Yea sure, things change, different suppliers, different methods, different sauces, different rubs, but not from what has been posted here. These are problems that stem from inexperience, from someone who has bitten off more than they can chew. I hope that the kitchen can learn quickly. But who ever is running the kitchen imho should know how to serve meat that is smoky and moist. Both Lykn Chicken and Sweet Smoke do it all day long.

                                                                                                                    To error is human, and god knows I’ve made my fair share of mistakes in the kitchen. But in the kitchen you are only good as your last plate.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Pastryrocks
                                                                                                                      e
                                                                                                                      embee RE: Pastryrocks Mar 3, 2009 02:11 PM

                                                                                                                      Many would say that, in a half decent restaurant, consistency is the ONLY thing. You might or might not like the style of the ribs, the cut, the doneness, the spicing, or whatever. But when you order ribs a second time, they should be the same as the ribs you got before.

                                                                                                                      That's one major difference between my hobby cooking (which I'm told is much better than good) and life as a professional chef. I play. Sometimes I achieve greatness and sometimes I feed the garburator and order pizza. A "real" chef can play with specials, but never, ever with the regular menu. Whether high end dining or chain, the frequent customer should know what to expect.

                                                                                                                    2. re: 1sweetpea
                                                                                                                      i
                                                                                                                      iamafoodie RE: 1sweetpea Mar 3, 2009 10:38 AM

                                                                                                                      Exactly. Cooking is more about science than art. I'm a charter member of the ever-better club when it comes to food and I will always be leery of any business that expects paying customers to tolerate trial and error.

                                                                                                                      A controlled soft opening can help when operating systems and standards are established and firmly in place. Too often novice employees just get overwhelmed and discouraged, disappointing customers. I hope the Highway 61 folks are listening and learning from customers, lavishing praise on everyone getting it even almost right and focusing on fixing the rest. Then we'll have a place we can all enjoy.

                                                                                                                      1. re: iamafoodie
                                                                                                                        p
                                                                                                                        Pizza Lover RE: iamafoodie Mar 3, 2009 12:26 PM

                                                                                                                        From my experience Highway 61 has all the signs of an MBA project with franchising as its ultimate goal....quality BBQ/food is a very distant second/third.

                                                                                                                        As an MBA even I did a thesis on franchising a food concept!

                                                                                                                  2. jayt90 RE: Davwud Mar 3, 2009 06:42 AM

                                                                                                                    There is no excuse in consistently sending out overcooked food, whether BBQ, hamburgers, or fish and chips.
                                                                                                                    Regrettably this is the norm in Toronto, because it satifies most customers, and the health inspectors.

                                                                                                                    1. w
                                                                                                                      Wino In Training RE: Davwud Mar 3, 2009 06:54 AM

                                                                                                                      Well, in spite of the somewhat negative reviews, my wife and I tried Highway 61 on Saturday and had a great experience. They're obviously working on tweaking things to solve some of the problems that people have mentioned, but we had a very positive experience. I had the pulled pork sandwich - lots of pork, nicely moist & smoky, the sauce really complemented it well (I would agree with the comment of it being greater than the sum of its parts). My onion rings were a bit oily but were crisp & delicious.

                                                                                                                      My wife had the Mac & Cheese Shepherd's Pie - which sounds a bit silly but man, this was outstanding. BBQd ground beef covered with mac & cheese, finished in the smoker. Really a super dish - I ate about half of it though, it was really rich. Very smoky, and they're using some pretty sharp, flavourful cheese to do it.

                                                                                                                      We'll be going back.... they're obviously improving things.

                                                                                                                      1. m
                                                                                                                        MeMeMe RE: Davwud Mar 4, 2009 12:41 PM

                                                                                                                        Having been on the Texas BBQ trail...I have high expectations. Well...we had an enjoyable dinner. Ample portions, friendly service, good beer on tap. The food was tasty - not overly smokey, but at least enough that you know it was cooked authentically. I had their inventive Mac and Cheese and it was very rich and interesting. I was stuffed. I will definitely go back - it wasn't over the top amazing, but I have yet to find a BBQ restaurant in Toronto that approaches anything I've had in the US.

                                                                                                                        1. mlukan RE: Davwud Mar 5, 2009 05:12 PM

                                                                                                                          I am saddened to be writing this review. I am glad to see others enjoyed themselves, and I am going to give Highway 61 the benefit of the doubt because it's early into their opening and I'm hoping they can work out kinks. I will be returning to give them a second and third shot at least...... But......my meal was bad.......really bad. I wish I would have went at dinner and not lunch because I feel like I was served leftovers from yesterday. Myself and a couple others shared the BB King meal. The chicken, brisket, and pulled pork were so dry that they were hard to eat. The flavor was just not there, bland, lacking seasoning and smoke flavor. It almost tasted like there was no dry rub applied to the meat. Most of the time when I am eating bad BBQ including my own I just douse it in sauce and it makes most things better, but their sauce is just not the kind of sauce you drench your food in. Very pungent, salty flavor.No lack of Worcestershire. I normally prefer a bit sweeter but it's decent.
                                                                                                                          The Beans were very brackish and all others except for me found them uneatable. Not Bad IMHO but nothing special.
                                                                                                                          Now onto the good, service was excellent although the restaurant was practically empty.
                                                                                                                          The Pork Ribs were the standout by a long shot. We got the sticky and they were excellent. I wish I would have ordered just a nice rack of ribs now but, I had to try it all. The beef rib had a lot of fat on it, but under it was some good meat. Still a little bland but good. Again I wish that both ribs had more smoke but they were good.
                                                                                                                          I will be back but not for lunch and not until they have worked out some issues. I don't want my review to turn anyone off of checking it out. I hope so much that it was just my bad luck to show up when most of their meat was dry.

                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: mlukan
                                                                                                                            grandgourmand RE: mlukan Mar 6, 2009 04:40 AM

                                                                                                                            I've read most of the reviews. And the lacking smoke flavour comment comes up a few times. I don't get that one. I've been smoking meats at home for barely a month now, and getting smoke flavour is hardly a challenge (smoke ring, another matter). And the general quality of the food sounds very inconsistent. I can understand it's a new place and a,, but you expect service issues, not food issues.

                                                                                                                            As an aside, I don't know if anyone ever tried the Purple Pig. Well, once upon a time, it was good. I had some really good side ribs there (my preference). A year after my first visit, they were obviously boiled and maybe baked for ten minutes. i hate to sound like a broken record, but is TO simply not destined for great BBQ? All due respect, Buster Rhino sounds like the real deal, but I'm never going to get up to Whitby on a weekday.

                                                                                                                            Oh, and Mlukan, you describe your meal as really bad, but it sounds like the ribs were excellent. If you had ordered the full rack of ribs, would it have been good? Did the ribs have smoke flavour?

                                                                                                                            1. re: grandgourmand
                                                                                                                              OnDaGo RE: grandgourmand Mar 6, 2009 05:42 AM

                                                                                                                              I heard the originals owners of teh Purple Pig mismanaged their moeny and lost the business. So it is probably a whole new crew in there...

                                                                                                                              1. re: grandgourmand
                                                                                                                                mlukan RE: grandgourmand Mar 6, 2009 09:43 AM

                                                                                                                                The meal was bad, and it would have been better had I got more ribs. On the B.B king meal there is only 6 pork ribs. So between the 3 of us there I only got 2, so it was about 10% of my meal. So including the Beef rib about 15% of my meal was good, but nothing to write home about. The Ribs did not have a huge amount of smoke flavor but the rub was more present than in other any other meat so I cannot complain because they were tasy and very tender.
                                                                                                                                So Grand if I would have ordered just the ribs, yes I probably would have been more satisfied. But they are not even close to ribs I had down south nor do I consider H61 a full fledged BBQ joint if all they got right was the ribs and the music. I guess maybe I'm being a little unfair comparing it to southern food but that's what my taste buds crave when I hear BBQ.

                                                                                                                            2. The Chowhound Team RE: Davwud Mar 6, 2009 09:01 AM

                                                                                                                              We split some discussion on the availability of American microbrews in Ontario out to its own thread, since it seemed like a bigger topic than just Highway 61: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/601639

                                                                                                                              1. The Chowhound Team RE: Davwud Mar 11, 2009 04:46 PM

                                                                                                                                We've split the beginnings of a discussion on getting a heavy vs. light smoke flavour into BBQ to the Home Cooking Board. You can find the thread at the link below:

                                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/603005

                                                                                                                                1. Muffin__Top RE: Davwud Mar 19, 2009 04:50 AM

                                                                                                                                  NOW did a review on it today http://www.nowtoronto.com/food/story....

                                                                                                                                  they agree with my opinion on the ribs, and vegetables, no word on the chicken though

                                                                                                                                  1. h
                                                                                                                                    hungryabbey RE: Davwud Mar 22, 2009 06:26 PM

                                                                                                                                    Went tonight for an early dinner around 5 and the place seemed to be pretty busy with big groups of families.. Its a nice spot, clean.. I liked the atmosphere and our server was really enthusiastic about the business which was nice to see. The food, however, was not so great.
                                                                                                                                    We tried:
                                                                                                                                    Onion rings- the best thing we ordered. I loved these and would consider going back to JUST eat these. SUPER crispy and nicely spiced.. these arent normal onion rings.. more like fritters with onions inside.
                                                                                                                                    Corn bread- eh. It was okay. Nothing special. Wouldnt order again.
                                                                                                                                    Pulled pork sandwich- wasnt bad, but a bit dry. I did like the BBQ sauce though.
                                                                                                                                    Beef brisket sandwich- this was wayyy to fatty. Half of the sandwich had to be pushed aside because it was just hunks of fat.
                                                                                                                                    Baked beans- not good. Too watery, not a whole lot of flavour.. I wouldnt order it again.
                                                                                                                                    Mac and cheese sheppards pie- it was pretty good. I found it a bit dry though. Seems almost as if it was cooked a while ago and then reheated for a couple minutes.
                                                                                                                                    Sweet potato fries- not good. They were realllly undercooked. I like my sweet potato fries crispy.. these were really soggy.
                                                                                                                                    Service- really attentive and friendly but much too quick. We were in and out with apps and mains within 35 minutes!!
                                                                                                                                    Would I go back? Not anytime soon, Id like to let them work out the kinks.. but yes, maybe in the summer, especially if they have a patio.

                                                                                                                                    1. a
                                                                                                                                      abigllama RE: Davwud Mar 29, 2009 12:35 AM

                                                                                                                                      Made it up there tonight. Overall positive but with some issues. We got there late around 9:30 and they were out of about half of what we attempted to order. But here goes:

                                                                                                                                      Onion Rings - Some of the best I'd ever had. Look almost like smallish doughnuts, awesome crunchy batter. Like Abby, would consider making a trip up just for these.

                                                                                                                                      Sheppard's Pie - SO ordered and thought it was ok, I loved it. Crusty mac and cheese and tasty BBQ meat inside. Perfect cold weather comfort food, would be best served with a snow storm outside. Got coleslaw on the side and it was excellent. Creamy but still light and flavourful.

                                                                                                                                      I got the pulled pork sandwhich. This tasted a lot like a really fatty roasted pork sandwhich with some BBQ sauce on it. Huge loonie size globs of fat here and there, but was really like 3 huge chunks for fairly juicy pork that tasted pretty bland. I can't believe this was smoked for 12 hours, it didn't have the texture or smoke flavour of slow cooked smoked pork...so something is fishy there. Also got a gross chunk of bone. I still ate most of it and pulled the fat globs out and was ok as a roasted pork, but was a disapointment since that's not what I expect when ordering pulled pork. As a side I got Collard Greens and they were awesome. Spiced with red pepper and some bacon, and cooked perfectly like mom used to make. More than made up for pulled pork let down.

                                                                                                                                      Waiter tempted us with a peach praline pie for dessert that was excellent. The service was also excellent all around. The rings, sides and dessert made up for lame pulled pork so would consider going back to check out other things on the menu.

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: abigllama
                                                                                                                                        e
                                                                                                                                        ebay3392 RE: abigllama Apr 2, 2009 04:09 AM

                                                                                                                                        I would have returned it if I got globs of fat and even a bone in my sandwich...I have made pulled pork on the smoker many times and separating it is not overly difficult....and the fact there were no burnt ends mixed in nor smoky flavour does make it fishy...especially when places hide the meat in bbq sauce...don't think I will be trying this place...

                                                                                                                                      2. c
                                                                                                                                        ctl98 RE: Davwud Apr 1, 2009 06:04 PM

                                                                                                                                        Tried this place tonight with DH and 2 sons. Had the BB King platter and it was huge! We have healthy appetites, so it's rare that we ever have leftovers, but we took home about a third. Service was ok, a bit slow but cheerful. The sweet potato fries were excellent! Crisp, uncoated, but very well spiced. The Yukon gold fries were very good too. The beans, meh. Now about the meat...I felt that every single piece of meat was underseasoned. I had to add sauce to every bite (which I didn't mind terribly because I liked their sauce) but I was expecting to be able to enjoy my dry ribs without sauce and still get that hit of bbq flavor. Alas, no such luck. The chicken was so-so and the brisket was dry. The pulled pork was tender and the texture was good but again...more seasoning please. All in all it was an average dining experience. We might go back, just because we live 5 minutes away and it does satisfy the bbq craving if I don't want to spend hours making my own. Saying that, it's one of the few restos on Bayview that I would actually go back to. At least it's not one of those westernized asian-fusion ones.

                                                                                                                                        1. k
                                                                                                                                          Kedeisha8 RE: Davwud Dec 18, 2009 06:40 PM

                                                                                                                                          My review i didnt like the taste of the food overall my brisket had too much fat on it and this is coming from someone that loves fat the chicen taste bad i got white meat that tasted dry my food was $30 for plate of brisket 1/4 chicken side mac and cheese, side beans and cornbread I PREFER SOUTHERN RUB SMOKEHOUSE IN VAUGHN/WOODBRIDGE i spent $17 for more food that tasted good i will not be going back as it was not up to my standard for the overpricing

                                                                                                                                          1. a
                                                                                                                                            abigllama RE: Davwud Dec 19, 2009 10:24 AM

                                                                                                                                            The only thing worth a damn in this place is the onion rings. As for the meat it's the fattiest BBQ I've ever had. When politely mentioning this to the waiter I was told "well that's how BBQ is supposed to be".. I've lived in Dallas and Atlanta and had lots of world famous BBQ in my lifetime and don't need to be informed of "how it's supposed to be". Waiter just shrugged shoulders at this information.

                                                                                                                                            This is a scam. Fist vist was so so, had issues with the fatty meat. Second visit was worse, this place is totally done for me. The attitude that they can push low grade crap and pass it off as "authentic" because Torontonians don't know any better is insulting.

                                                                                                                                            1. TorontoTips RE: Davwud Jan 8, 2010 11:48 AM

                                                                                                                                              I agree - weak, not-quite passable BBQ.

                                                                                                                                              Worst - bland, dry brisket and pulled pork, tasteless ribs. It all seems so passionless, this place seems to BBQ as Ho-Lee-Chow is to chinese. I'm sure they had franchising in their plans, instead of BBQ trophies.

                                                                                                                                              Best - They have small Blues Bands upstairs some nights, and a great home-brew stout... and the Dakota Beef ribs can be quite good when you get a good one, or can be completely inedible if you get one of the all-fat-and-gristle variety that were about 50% of the ones we've been served on our 3 visits.

                                                                                                                                              Looks like I'm forced to continue to make the trip to Whitby and get me some of Buster Rhino's smoky-meaty perfect ribs instead, which are the best in Canada for sure. MMmmm..

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