Barque - Review
We were three at Barque last night. None of us will return.
We wanted to like this place. We understood that one of the owner/cooks had actually spent half a year studying and learning barbecue in the southern United States. This sounded promising.
The problem, it seems, is that Barque is already cutting corners. They are trying to speed up production. They are not doing things "low" or "slow" enough. Surely, they are deviating from what they must have learned stateside. Ironically, none of the food had the trademark "bark" that we were rightly expecting.
Baby back ribs, had clumps of rub falling off it. Now, mind you, the rub itself was delicious. But most people don't want to eat it in mounds. Rather, it should be applied early and allowed to meld into the meat. The ribs we had were not penetrated by the rub. The rub just fell off. Their rub, I think, is very good and would have worked well if given the chance. Smoke penetration was there, but not as deep as I prefer. It was almost superficial. But it was there, and there was some resultant deliciousness. But, for the most part, the ribs were a big let down.
Their smoked chicken wings were the highlight. Very delicious. Properly smoked. (It takes less time properly smoke a chicken wing, due to its smaller size). It's too bad they don't have the patience to smoke bigger pieces of food.
Breaded chicken tenders were dry. And, they were not all tenders, per se, but strips of breast meat, as noted by my dining companion who worked in the chicken business.
Brisket and beef rib were mediocre. Again, they would have been better if the kitchen didn't rush to prepare them. These are very fatty pieces of meat, that require low and slow cooking, in part to render off some of the solid fat. But, they apparently didn't do that. So, both of these items had large globules of solid white fat throughout.
On the positive side, they start you out with complimentary carbonated water. A nice touch, I thought.
Barque is still better than 95% of the ribs in this town. So, I think a lot of people will like it. The place was busy. But, they are not living up to their name.
I hear Buster Rhino's is coming to Toronto. I am looking forward to trying their stuff.
2001 Thickson Rd S, Whitby, ON L1N, CA
I won't be hurrying back either. I've been twice and both times the ribs/brisket/chicken were dry and tasted as if they had been rushed though the cooking process. Service was good and the place was packed both times, so maybe my poor experiences were the exception - although my boyfriend's felt the same way.
Memphis Fire BBQ is (in Winona). And, I had a much better experience at Barque when I went there for take out back in August. I have been to BR, Camp 31 and Memphis Fire and Barque was up there except for the salt crystals on the ribs but I enjoyed my meal overall. Sounds like quality control issues.
I've still never been to Camp 31 but I've been to the others you mention.
Barque is usually terrific, and very consistent. I've been at least 3 times in the past few months. I often dine alone when I get a craving for wings or meat after work.
However, two Sundays ago, I had the worst brunch food. Eggs benny with brisket on cornbread was a bad idea. Mushy soft tasteless weird uninspired. Ew. The brisket had no flavour!
But the service is generally great and the host is very gracious and helpful.
Stockyards on the other hand has never failed me. So it has a slight advantage over Barque. But I still love Barque despite the bad brunch.
I found their pork ribs to be very good. Just the style I like - good rub, higher than average (Toronto) smoke and good 'bite' to the meat (I'm not a fan of fall-off-the-bone ribs - it's a style preference; your tastes may differ). I also liked the mustard based sauce better than the vinegar one - and at least you get a choice. And the cole slaw was coarser than 'traditional' Carolina (which tends to be more of a puree) - again to my taste (yes, I want texture not pablum - perhaps (?) over-emphasizing the point).
I've been mostly disappointed with the Toronto offerings 'everywhere'. Some have good quality meat, but the style seems to be 'inoffensive' rather than making a statement. Not too much smoke, or rub, or anything for that matter!
Buster Rhino's has 'nothing to dislike' - they do everything pretty well - except for their buns which are classic wonderbread (I know it's traditional Southern - but doesn't mean I have to like it - I'd rather not stuff a cotton wool/cardboard hybrid in my mouth!).
For most styles (haven't had the chicken) I prefer Mad Michaels in Wyebridge - although their pulled pork is also a bit wimpy. Certainly their brisket is # 1 - but their pork is Texas-style, so hard to compare to the Carolina style which is mostly found in Toronto.
Haven't tried Barque's beef - still haven't found ANY decent beef BBQ in Toronto (Greater) - probably my favourite is Black Camel - except little or no detectable smoke, so doesn't really qualify as BBQ for me.
4 Crescent Rd, Toronto, ON M4W1S9, CA
8215 93 Hwy, Wyebridge, ON L0K1E0, CA
2001 Thickson Rd S, Whitby, ON L1N, CA
I haven't been to Hogtown but they are getting a lot of press that's for sure, and from what people tell me their truck gets a lot of business... I know a lot of people that work in the area. How is their brisket? I can honestly say Barque's did a decent job with their brisket... it was the best tasting meat on my plate.
Two of us went on a Sat. night at 5:30, lined up, and found the service gracious and considerate. We had a lot of BBQ, but found the rubs and sauces mostly sweet. I always prefer side spare ribs to back ribs, but they were not on offer. Also, most of the crowd was "suburban" and were visiting as tourists. The staff had a lot of "explaining " to do -- we could hear them.
We never eat out on Sat night, but we happened to be right there at 5:25, so why not? It was interesting, but not worth a return. Has anybody had the smoked lamb nachos? Sounds awful...