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New Q! Stack BBQ

This place opened shop a week or so back at 3265 Yonge St. (lawrence area).
sadly, no website yet, so, Wondering if anyone checked it out yet?

MnV

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  1. Yep, thought it was okay. Okay price. Needs a better smoke ring/taste on the pertinent items. Smoked chicken was quite nice.

    Ultimate platter ($59) - Three of us destroyed it.
    https://twitter.com/#!/foodpr0n/media...

    Lots of families in the early evening, but it's set up to be a bar/hangout for the adults later on. Lots of room (2 floors). Looks nice. I have photos & menu in my camera, but that won't see the light of day for a while unless I get on it this weekend XD

    7 Replies
    1. re: jlunar

      Not being a BBQ buff, I can't attest to its authenticity, but the large-ish menu - not all of it BBQ-related - is tasty and modestly priced. Brisket sandwich could've used a tad more brisket in it. The ribs were not Universal Grill quality (or Universal Grill price), yet flavourful nonetheless. Well laid out, comfy booths, alert young staff in matching Stack tee-shirts. Seems more like an upscale neighbourhood diner than a crusty old BBQ joint. As jlunar has pointed out, it's mainly families early on, later snackers/drinkers gazing at the big-screen TVs tuned to sports. Well-selected wines and beers at substantially lower prices than the murderous markups elsewhere on that strip of Yonge Street. Busy. Proprietor cruises the floor to keep things humming, chatting with customers, defusing inevitable problems in a place that's been open just a few weeks. Good vibe. Mind, I've only been in once. Need a couple more shots at it before it's moved to my go-to list. Not something I'd traverse the city for, but I'm glad it's only a short drive away for me. Promising.

      1. re: juno

        Agreed with your assessment juno. It's a decent spot and I am not a BBQ buff (went with one who was though). Good neighbourhood place. Lots of money into the restaurant & menu design and such - which makes me all curious why their site is non-existant! Maybe they want to go by word-of-mouth first for a slower roll-out? Not that seemed the case given how busy it was on day 2.

        1. re: jlunar

          Web site is still being built. I'm guessing independent design firm and some missed deadlines. :) Must really on FB and Twitter for now.

          1. re: TorontoJo

            Crap, I mean "must rely".

      2. re: jlunar

        Nice pic. Question: Was the smoked chicken shown (if it was, I guessing it's the shredded meat)?

        1. re: T Long

          Actually, it's a whole (well, half on the platter) chicken. Between the fries and the cast-iron pan of mac & cheese (didn't like that).

          1. re: jlunar

            Thanks!

      3. I totally didn't realize that this was at Yonge and Lawrence. Nice, will have to check it out soon.

        1. I went to Stack to get some take out for lunch yesterday. This is the space that used to be Sorrento. It's right next door to The Friendly Butcher at Yonge and Roslin.

          They've done a super nice job renovating the place, it's looks great -- seriously upscale for a BBQ spot. And BIG and they take reservations, both of which are good. But note that this is NOT a pure "BBQ joint" -- it's got a huge menu divided up into these main areas: apps, burgers (smashed, griddled), sandwiches, salads, smokehouse, shakes, donuts and desserts.

          Here's the run down, based on a really nice chat I had with the bartender (and maybe manager?) while I was waiting for my lunch:

          - The place is owned by a couple that owns several Shoeless Joe franchises. They felt limited by the franchise and wanted to own their own place where they could make decisions about
          ingredients and what to put on the menu.

          - They have a gas-fired Southern Pride smoker. It's a big one: holds 500 lbs. of meat. It's right in the restaurant, but totally enclosed in glass with a separate ventilation system, so you can see it, but not smell it. For some, this is good, for others, not so much. Your call. :)

          - The owner experimented a lot with smoking techniques (woods, timing, etc.) prior to opening. So he's not a "Q expert from down yonder", but he seems to care.

          - The burgers (which I didn't order) are of the smashed variety that are so popular right now. They aren't currently set up to grind in house, but they are going to be once they settle in a bit more. Right now, The Friendly Butcher next door is grinding their meat for them. The burgers are pricey, but probably about right for the neighbourhood: $9.00 for a regular burger with the regular fixins. $12 and up for the fancier burgers with crazy toppings. Burgers are a la carte, so if you want sides, they're mostly $3 or $4.

          - They have a "man vs. food" type challenge. 2 1-lb burgers, a pound of fries and a shake (something along those lines, I can't recall the exact details). Must finish in 30 minutes.

          So, onto the food I had. I had the half-rack ribs dinner, which is served with fries, slaw and beans. The ribs are back ribs, and were tender (but with a bit of bite) and tasty, but not overly smoky. I personally would have enjoyed more smoke, but DH is of the "not too much smoke, please" variety, so he liked 'em as is. The slaw was fine, nothing to get excited about, but decent. But the beans were excellent! Clearly home made, lots of bits of shredded pork and a nice molasses flavour with a bit of tang. I am normally not a huge beans fan, as they are usually way too sweet for my taste, but these were really good.

          DH had a panino, which was not of the grilled variety. But it was on a very good, chewy bun, and was loaded with a grilled chicken breast, huge thick slice of ham, smoked bacon, cheese and garlic mayo. He loved it. I had a bite -- it was tasty and the ingredients were great quality.

          My favourite part of the meal was dessert: a brown paper bag filled with a dozen or so tiny doughnuts (of the Tiny Tom/Little Nicky variety). Fried fresh and tossed with a light cinnamon sugar mix. They were crispy, greasy (in that "bad for you, but so good" way) and totally addictive. If you eat in, they have a bunch of "fancy" doughnut options topped with all sorts of stuff (there's a s'mores version, for example). But plain and simple was perfect for me.

          Bottom line: this is a nice neighbourhood restaurant that also has BBQ. It's clearly set up to expand into multiple locations if they are successful. I'm doubtful it will become a mecca for BBQ purists, as the smoke levels are quite low to satisfy the tamer tastes of North Toronto eaters. But they seem to be using quality ingredients and they seem to care about what they are putting out. They will do *very* well in that location, as it's an alternate, but "safe" restaurant in a neighbourhood that is crying out for non-Italian options. My lunch was good enough that I'll definitely go back to try more of the food. It's definitely worth a try if you're in the area. I'll need to try more before deciding whether it's worth traveling for. But yay for more options in North Toronto, wasteland for interesting food choices.

          They are open at 11:30 every day. No web site yet, but they are on Twitter @stacksmmmoked and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/STACKsmmmoked

          1 Reply
          1. re: TorontoJo

            Oh yes, the beans! Those were quite good. I had the doughnuts too. Got plain and s'mores. Liked the s'mores, but could only eat maybe half - so greasy! Still prefer little nicky's, but Stacks' version suit the food.

          2. The most important question: How does it compare to Camp 31, the gold standard for authentic southern BBQ in southern Ontario?

            19 Replies
            1. re: TexSquared

              It doesn't and it's not trying to.

              1. re: TorontoJo

                How does it compare to HWY 61 on Bayview? That would be the closest place to it, I imagine.

                1. re: foodyDudey

                  HWY 61 got such universally bad reviews that I never felt a need to go. But from passing it and looking in, I'd say that Stack is much nicer looking from a decor perspective. And I think the menu is broader than HWY 61.

                  But I'm reserving further judgement on Stack until I can go back and try more dishes. One carry-out lunch does not make for a terribly informed opinion.

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    I read all the bad reviews about HWY 61 also, but my cousin lives close to HWY 61 and picked up food twice from there to bring to the cottage. I would never have known she got it from there as it was good!

                    I was just on the HWY 61 website and it says they were voted #1 ribs in Toronto by Peter Oliver and Michael Bonacini. Who would have guessed.

                    1. re: foodyDudey

                      Yeah, I had the ribs there when it had that on the menu and they were HORRIBLE. I vowed to never go back but I read a review on here that they recently changed owners or something and they are doing it better now.

              2. re: TexSquared

                I've never had a good meal at Camp 31, service is slow, menu is limited (brisket only on the combo platter not as its own main??) and the meat that is served has been dry more times than not.. If that is the "gold" standard we are in trouble..

                1. re: ParkerQ

                  Personally I've always had great service and occasionally great food at Camp 31. I have to agree though that it's a very risky trip out there from Toronto because more times than not the bbq disappoints. Biggest complaint for us is dried out ribs. Also not a big fan of the sugary sauce at the best of times. Camp sides are always great though. Brisket is far superior at Barque.

                  Hadley's has some of the best pork ribs and chicken in my opinion.

                  1. re: ParkerQ

                    Camp 31 is really overrated by purists. I guarantee if they opened on Queen west and served the exact same food their champions would change their tune.

                    1. re: jamesm

                      They would possibly benefit by being in the city. I think part of their problem is that the ribs sit around for a few days too long between being smoked and reheated on the grill. With consistent, busy traffic, perhaps the food would always be fresh and juicy....just a guess with a dose of optimisim. : )

                  2. re: TexSquared

                    I'm not sure how universally people like Camp 31, but based on recommendations here I made the trek and was terribly disappointed. The rack of ribs I was served initially were clearly overdone and dried out, and I had to send them back. The replacement rack was good, but I would never go there again based on what they tried to push on me initially. I much prefer Buster Rhino's or Kentucky Greg's, or more locally, Paul and Sandy's Real Barbeque in Etobicoke.

                    ETA: It's interesting to see that others have had the same experience that I've had with dried out ribs.

                    1. re: TOFoodie1

                      Never had a bad meal from Buster. P&S is never open when I try.

                      1. re: justsayn

                        I think they're open Tuesday to Saturday.

                        1. re: terrycar

                          Thanks! They also seem to close randomly. I really want to try the place!

                        2. re: justsayn

                          Yes, I've never, ever had a bad rack of ribs from Buster Rhino, but I always go Thursday or Friday afternoon when they are pulling them fresh from the smoker :-) Add a side of great fresh-cut fries and I'm a happy boy!

                          Highway 61 on the other hand - I went 3 times (because I like blues music and convinced myself I ordered the wrong items), but no, it's all pretty BAD, and I'll not go back.

                          Stack doesn't sound "up my alley" and Camp31 is inconsistent, but I've not tried the fried chicken, which I am a sucker for... hmmm...

                        3. re: TOFoodie1

                          My parents live in Paris, so I grab some food at Camp31 when I feed them - I get it every couple of months or so. I think the food is good - but not great by any means. I actually think the fried chicken is 100x better than the ribs. As for the ribs, better can be had at Barque/BRs/Stockyards. Will try the brisket next time too. Pulled pork is just ok, corn bread is decent - but seriously - nothing is amazing there. Maybe the fried chicken. Maybe.

                          1. re: justxpete

                            For southern Ontario, camp31 is still my place ......agreed love the fried chicken there....I have never experienced the dried out meat, however, it's possible it's due to the fact I've only been on weekends on busy busy days where there's less product sitting around all day.

                          2. re: TOFoodie1

                            I will add Memphis Fire BBQ in Winona to the list too in addition to the ones you mentioned above. I had a decent experience at Camp 31 the one time I went though.

                            1. re: ylsf

                              Albeit it was just one visit last year but Memphis Fire in Winona (just outside of Hamilton) was much better than Camp 31 which I went to a handful of times in a month last year and several times a year before. Every time we go by Hamilton or out to Niagara we'll be stopping in at Memphis Fire! I have two things when we hit a BBQ joint, pulled pork and brisket (I don't like ribs) and for Camp 31 while the pulled pork is fine, the sauce isn't my favourite, the brisket is bizarre, usually very dry and deli sliced-like. Weird. I smoked a brisket for the first time last weekend and it was much better than what I've had at Camp 31.

                              1. re: lister

                                i've been dying to try memphis fire.... ribs are ok @ camp31 as compared to other establishments in the GTA IMO .. i enjoy the pulled pork, fried chicken, chicken and my new favourite.. chicken wings.
                                yes.. i've seen their brisket and it didnt' look that great to me...thats why i never order it.

                        4. Is it open for weekday lunch?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: meatnveg

                            What? You didn't read my ENTIRE wall of text post for that info? ;o)

                            They are open every day at 11:30.

                            1. re: TorontoJo

                              My eyes glazed over at '500lbs of meat'

                          2. Had a pretty bad dinner experience here last night. They were slammed in the front, and short staffed in the kitchen. As a result we had long waits and bad (and I mean *really* bad) burgers. The server and the owner handled things very graciously, so big props for that. But they've got kinks to work out for their dinner service. It will be a while before I give them another chance.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: TorontoJo

                              Semi-similar experience with us. We went on Friday night. Arrived at 8 for our reservation to a jammed packed restaurant. There were quite a few parties waiting, and I could tell that there was a bit of stress and confusion about which parties were waiting and who to seat next. Regardless, the owner (Todd) was very apologetic for the 5 minute wait, and had us seated in the upstairs immediately. This place is pretty large. It has a big bar downstairs at the front, quite a bit of seating all the way to the kitchen in the back, and then an upper level with additional seating and a smaller bar as well. They did a really good job putting the place together. It reminded me of a sports bar meets corporate family restaurant. Definitely not my style, but it was comfortable none the less and I can appreciate that.
                              Service was incredibly friendly. Our server went above and beyond to make sure all of my questions were answered, and that drinks were refilled promptly. Just interacting with other servers/hostesses, I could tell that everyone was chosen for their personality and smiles. This would be a GREAT place to bring children for that reason alone. The only service issue was that our mains came before the appetizer I had ordered, a mistake that was promptly remedied with a complementary dessert, and many many apologies from the server and the owner (apparently they ran out of bechamel and had to make a new batch). And you know, the place has been open on 3 weeks and is absolutely slammed. I can definitely forgive such a small slip.
                              Speaking of the owner, Todd spent a lot of time chatting with us about his vision and business. As Jo mentioned, he owned a Shoeless Joes in Durham for a long time and decided he really wanted to open a restaurant with a "Diners, Drive ins and Dives" meets "Eat St" feel. He spent a lot of time testing recipes in his own drive way at home, attracting a hell of a lot of attention from seduced neighbours. He also told us that he's looking into opening a Food Truck and a second location somewhere in Durham region.
                              Todd also was very vocal about his focus on local ingredients. They source all of their meats, breads, ice cream etc from local companies, and Todd was adamant that he was really trying to get high quality ingredients and when possible, make everything from scratch.
                              So with regards to food/drink... The drink menu read a lot like a list of offerings at bat mitzfa, except that the drinks had booze in them. I will admit, I was super tempted by the insane alcoholic milkshake menu, but I knew that if I even attempted that, I would have no room for dessert, so I opted instead for their Strawberry Lime MMMojito with Jones Strawberry Lime soda with Light rum, simple syrup, ice, fresh mint, lime juice and strawberry garnish.It was sweet, didn't really taste much like a mojito (needed way more lime).. and did remind me a bit too much of a "cooler". Probably better saved for a young 19 year old type of drinker. For the rest of us, BBQ is best with beer, anyways.
                              I really would have liked to sample more of their BBQ items, but there was only two of us so we really had to choose. They do have a "Ultimate Platter" (with a full rack of ribs, quarter chicken, pulled pork, stack brisket, baked beans, mac and cheese, fries and mini buns) but even that would have been way too much for two. Todd, if you are reading this, please do a half portion of this platter!
                              We did have:
                              Mac and Cheese with 3 Cheese Bechamel Sauce and Panko Bread Crust- A very good mac and cheese. It had a lot of creamy sauce as well as stringy cheese and a crumbly buttery crust on top. Texturally, this was a great mac and cheese. My only criticism is that it could have used a bit more seasoning as it was a little on the bland side.

                              Smmmoked Ribs with Memphis Mild Sauce- The ribs were probably the disappointment of the night. The flavour of the pork itself was good, but I did find them pretty dry, and overly charred. While I appreciated that they weren't overtly fatty (no big pieces of fat), there was also very little meat on the bones. Hopefully it was just our rack as I dont see others reporting this issue.
                              Smokey Molasses Beans- I loved these. They had a nice hint of smoke, were perfectly sweet, and had lots of nice pieces of pork throughout. A must order side.
                              Fresh Cut Fries- Super crispy, nice cut, well seasoned. Another good choice.
                              Pulled Pork (with crispy onions and buttermilk dill) with Memphis Mild Sauce- Pork was tender, and the bun was perfectly fluffy and buttery. I actually didn't get any crispy onions or buttermilk dill (or at least I didn't detect them!) so I can't really speak to that element. I liked the mild sauce, but I did wish there was more of it, but that might be a personal preference. I do tend to like all of my PP tossed in sauce with lots of extra sauce on top (and here it was just applied on top), so I ordered a side of sauce to apply myself. Problem solved.
                              Slaw-Good, not great. It was missing something, either more salt, more sweet, more heat or more vinegar. Any one of these would have enhanced the flavour. I mixed in a little of that extra BBQ sauce and that made it much better.
                              Putters Kosher Pickles-Delicious crunchy, super juicy pickles. Can't imagine BBQ without them.
                              S'Mores Doughnuts (vanilla glaze with chocolate sauce, crumbled graham crackers and marshmallows)- If I were to adopt a really bad habit and feel really good about it, it would definitely be to drive to Stack on a weekly basis for my Doughnut fix. For a measly $5, you get the most ridiculously addictive treat that is so captivating that you're stomach pretty much forgets it is filled to the brim with pork, cheese and fries. Beneath a mountain of whipped cream you uncover about a dozen warm, freshly fried mini doughnuts (a la Tiny Toms style) that have been drizzled in a creamy chocolate sauce, tossed in a really satisfying mixture of buttery sugary graham cracker crumbs, sprinkled with mini marshmallows, and dusted with powdered sugar. The whole thing was unapologetically sweet, but in this case, it totally worked. By the time I had dug into the middle of the (seemingly neverending) cone, the doughnuts were completely encrusted with chocolate and crunchy, brown sugary crumbs, which despite my indifference to chocolate in general, was super delicious. It was also pretty functional because all of those sticky toppings helped the marshmallows adhere so I had a perfect bite every time. The doughnuts themselves brought back so many incredibly memories of going to the Ex with my fam, but the extra toppings really took it over the edge. Todd told us he was inspired by the "Sugar Lips" food truck on Eat st (Food Network) and he's looking forward to creating seasonal doughnut specials (ie. fresh blueberries in the summer etc.).
                              So for 1 coke, 1 cocktail, 1 app, 2 mains, and 4 additional sides, and a complementary dessert, our bill was $70 including tax and tip. This was a pretty good meal for a super low price, and judging by Todd's keen interest in feedback and his commitment to his business, I do think they will continue to work out the small kinks with service/seating/seasoning and get even better. I will give it a little bit of time, and then revisit for some delicious doughnuts and maybe even a milkshake. Has anyone been able to try one of those milkshakes?

                            2. Visited for the 2nd time yesterday. Ribs, burgers and Pulled Pork sandwich blew us away, and based on my visits, are among the best in the city (bold statement I know). The owner came by the table with a sampling of some pork JUST pulled off the bone, and OMG it was incredible.

                              I will absolutely keep going.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: dwyld71

                                Went for my first time last night, and loved it !

                                4 of us shared the huge $59 platter, and we could barely finish it.
                                Loved almost everything on it. Only parts still needing some work were the mac and cheese (too saucy and not enough cheesy flavour), and the brisket (kind of mushy consistancy). But I LOVED the fries: perfect, crispy, wonderful. The baked beans were fantastic! I liked the cole slaw, and thought the smoked meat was better than Caplansky's (although it was a bit salty). The chicken had a spicy yellow mustardy sauce (waitress said it was Piri Piri) that complemented the smokiness of the chicken very well. And the ribs, which were my main interest, were very good. Lots of meat on them, nice flavour. Maybe not quite smokey enough, and maybe a little dry, but still far above almost anywhere else in the city. I like the ribs at Stockyards more, but they only have them certain nights, often run out, and have hardly any seats in the place (and a much smaller menu). so, with Stack being very close to where I live, I will definitely be there again. I think I would order the ribs, with the great fries and baked beans, next time.

                                the 4 of us were stuffed, so we just had one order of the S'Mores donuts to share - OMG! If you love those little Tiny Tom donuts, and if you love chocolate and marshmallows, and sugar in general (who doesn't) you will be in ecstasy with these. Very reasonable at only $5.

                                None of us felt like having drinks, so our whole bill for 4 people was just the $59 platter, and $5 donuts - quite incredible for the amount and quality of food. I actually found myself worried as to whether they will be able to keep this up, selling this amount of food for this little - I hope they aren't doing this just for the short term.

                                They are obviously doing something right: they are packed just a few weeks after opening. It doesn't hurt that there are so few BBQ places in the city, and nothing at all decent in North York. If their burgers are as good as at The Works, then I will be back at Stack often (but not too often, or else my cholesterol will go through the roof!!)

                                1. re: FresserGuy

                                  I'm glad that my rack of ribs seemed to just be a bad one (with little meat in comparison to yours)... I actually found that my mac and cheese was pretty cheesy with lots of nice "stringy" pulls, so again it might come down to consistency..They're pretty slammed for being so new, so i can imagine it will take some time to iron out the kinks.. but the doughnuts alone are kind of worth going for me lol

                                  www.abbeyskitchen.com

                              2. FWIW, we live very close and the first time we went, the ribs were indeed pretty dry. The two times we've had them since, they were very enjoyable. I suspect they just had some issues they had to iron out. Been very pleased with the quality and the staff, very friendly.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: DThor56

                                  So glad the ribs have improved! Cannot wait to return!

                                  www.abbeyskitchen.com

                                2. I'll give this thread a bump since it's been dormant a while.

                                  Had lunch today and was thoroughly blow away. I had the Smoked Meat Sandwich and it was beyond awesome. One of the best in the city. The Fries were excellent and Strawberrty Donuts for dessert were excellent as well.

                                  In reverse order:
                                  Strawberry Donuts: Supposedly they were having dough issues so a tech guy from the donut machine maker came by recently and helped them. I had the S'mores Donuts in the past and loved them much like others have. I thought the strawberry ones were better. Simple donuts with strawberry syrup and whipped cream. Pretty simple and very tasty.

                                  Their Fries are among the best in the city. Tough to say they beat BMB but these ones were perfect for me on this day. They probably, by most peoples standards, under salt them. This worked well for me in that I'd had a lot of salt the last couple days and needed a bit of a break. They were crispy and tasty over all and I loved them.

                                  The Smmmoked Meat Sandwich was just down right awesome. It's not MONTREAL smoked meat. Just smoked meat. A sandwich inspired by the MSM sandwich. It was more like a heavily smoked ham sandwich. Came on rye with mustard. I suggested Keens mustard next time and seemed to have piqued the interest of the owner on that. Outside of wanting a bolder mustard, it's everything you could ask for. Moist, very tender, hand cut (which is waaaay better than machine cut) and smoky. I loved, loved, loved it. It came with a Putter's pickle too.

                                  Spoke quite a bit with Bill the owner and the menu and even the items seem to be still evolving. They're very open to critiques and really want to make the place and absolute home run. In 2 visits I'm really quite happy with what I've sampled.

                                  DT

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Davwud

                                    I tried it recently and avoided the ribs. Memphis has never been a favourite style of mine anywhere (including in Memphis).

                                    For pulled pork, I've usually enjoyed Kentucky style (certainly prefer it to most Carolina styles) and Stack's Lexington style (NC) was as good a version as I've had locally. In the Carolinas the Lexington style seems much closer to Kentucky (for me - my take is that it's more of a spicy vinegar sauce with minimal ketchup). Wasn't a great fan of the bun which disintegrated part-way through - but it was still better than the traditional Wonderbread-style (for buns I think Black Camel easily has the best).

                                    Good fries - but hated the TV's.

                                    I went relatively early and the place was packed with families - suggesting they're a great hit with the locals.

                                    1. re: estufarian

                                      I'm a sauce guy but love great ribs no matter what style they are.

                                      DT