Johnny Midnights Smokehouse BBQ
With all the talk about the new Pig Out BBQ in Pickering, I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Johnny Midnights.
Located at 1410 Bayly Street, Unit 5B, it's next door to the GO Station, and smack dab between the Service Ontario and the local Thai restaurant. Very inconspicuous place, barely visible from the street, I happened to notice it when I had to go next door. As I was running late, I just ran in to get a take-out menu. The owner, John, greeted me and gave me a brief history about his place - open for around 4 weeks now, on-site smoker (I noticed the scent of smoke/bacon in the parking lot), and homemade sauces. He has seven different BBQ sauces, with their own different flavours.
His menu (http://johnnymidnights.com/barbeque_t...) has sandwiches (Pulled Pork, Pulled Chicken, and Brisket) for $5.49, or a combo for $7.99 (drink plus one side, as per his menu). Later that week, I came in with my family and we all had sandwiches - my wife and father-in-law had the Pulled Chicken sandwiches, and I had the sliders combo (all 3 sandwiches, in slider form). The Pulled Chicken sandwich was excellent - smoky, but not dry, definitely taste the chicken and the smoke, it was breast meat. My wife has fries - freshly fried up, nice and hot. My FIL had coleslaw, Texas style - red cabbage with shredded carrots and a vinaigrette-based dressing, not the creamy kind. You also has choice of toppings of tomatoes, lettuce, onions, hot peppers, and chipotle mayo. The brisket was smoky and very flavourful, not dry at all. The pulled pork was smoked and pulled perfectly - the pork was not dry, had excellent smokiness, and no trace chunks of fat (the fat has emulsified into the meat itself while being smoked). The different sauces were excellent, and beg to tried - I'm having a difficult time remembering the names and flavours together, but I know they were all so tasty. I also had the Pulled Pork chili - great flavour, slightly sweet, and oh so good.
The place itself is not the largest, mostly deals with take-out, with only 3 tables for four, and one table for two, but well worth the trek for the food. I've yet to try the ribs, but I'm looking forward to that. The menu doesn't have whole chicken and chicken pieces available, but the owner said he was more than willing to accommodate special orders.
Give Johnny Midnights a try and get the word out to other people in Pickering - there's not just one place for BBQ, there's Johnny Midnights.
Johnny Midnights Smokehouse BBQ
1410 Bayly Street, Unit 5B
"BBQ is definately starting to get trendy in the gta."
I guess it's the next big thing -- the gourmet burger market is oversaturated so now the new players will try BBQ. The thing is, BBQ is a lot easier to screw up than burgers, and can take years to master (as Davwud has pointed out). Bragging about how many TV's you have (right Rally's?) and how many stupid sauces you have (right Wild Wing Rib Crib?) doesn't mean a licence to print money. All these new players won't survive; I just can't see Pickering supporting two similar places an exit apart on the 401.
But this is long overdue. For years the only "decent" BBQ you could get close to home was when the Rotary Ripoff Ribfest tour came to town. Not anymore. Pickering Ribfest was an instant hit so I shouldn't be surprised at two new players opening up here to try to cash in on that untapped market.
I see the trend as a good thing/bad thing. It's a good thing in that to have GOOD bbq restaurants able to open and survive, there has to be a public interest in the food. That does seem to be occurring now. The bad of course, is that we will have to deal with every 20 poor attempts at BBQ by people just trying to cash in on a trend for every restaurant that knows how to do it.