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Leslieville Pumps

Decided to try out Leslieville Pumps this weekend after walking by the renovations & sandwich board for a few months. (I'm a sucker for pulled pork, and the mention of Montefort cheese curds on the poutine suggested to me that it wouldn't be the standard fare.) We split the brisket sandwich and the poutine (no extras).

Good prices, great sandwich (combo of flavours, textures, not dry, not too moist), nice fries, and a guy in the back who cares about what he's doing.

Don't let the location (gas station) or the exterior (bad western) put you off from trying them. It's a great addition to the neighbourhood among a bunch of solid new spots.

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  1. Huh interesting. I fill up there all the time as their gas price is usually the best around. I was wondering about their expanded food operation.

    1. I wasn't even aware this existed until the write-up on Toronto Life today and came here to do a search to see if anyone had already had a good experience with it. I'm very curious to see if the fried pickles and corn fritters are good - I might take a walk by this weekend to try some out.

      1. We went on Sunday. The wife took the camera and I took the appetite.

        We ordered a chicken thigh and a brisket sandwich. The winner was definitely the brisket. you could taste the mesquite and hickory used in the smoking process. it was different than our usual favourite, Buster Rhinos, whereas The Pump doesn't shave their meat. the brisket was in juicy little chunks.

        it tasted like there was some horseradish in the sandwich and it is advertised as having bbq sauce. the house was very muted - and if you're a meat purist, that's a good thing.

        the chicken thighs were a little more plain. the smoke comes out better with brisket, in my opinion, so I wasn't expecting miracles from the chicken. I would hope that they make it saucier or give it some punch, because otherwise, it was flavour neutral.

        we also split a poutine. its a nice portion and was very tasty. i think we prefer chicken gravy vs beef gravy on poutine, but otherwise, it was pretty good. very Quebec diner-like in style.

        East enders now have a legitimate barbeque option. Definitely check it out.

        2 Replies
        1. re: atomeyes

          Prohibition has a smoker. It should be running already, or under construction, or testing. I wrote a business plan for a Leslieville bbq resto, but it's now been done by 2 places.

          1. re: BeeRich

            Prohibition is my local and I love the room and the staff but the food is not the strong suit. Even with changes in the kitchen it continues to be overpriced for what you get and frankly in some cases really really bad - ie fish and chips is one of the worst I've ever had.

        2. I am a little confused, the website says open 24 hours, but it also says the kitchen closes at 8:00p.m.
          What do they serve after 8:00?

          2 Replies
          1. re: bbbradk

            Those are probably gas station hours.

            1. Good write up / photos on BlogTO about this place... I didn't even think of clicking on this thread before seeing the pictures :)


              And to answer the question about what do they serve after 8pm, they mention in the write up that they have a sri lankan curry so at minimum they have that available (mentions it is popular with cabbies at 3am).

              3 Replies
              1. re: ylsf

                Ah good to know. Most pubs have a SR in the kitchen, so they serve the same but it isn't on the menu. Try some of the Firkins, and ask if there's a SR curry on the hidden menu. Very very nice. But, they do tone it down for us Muzungus.

                1. re: BeeRich

                  Sounds more and more promising.


                2. re: ylsf

                  I also read the write up on BlogTO. The food looks fan-freakin-tastic! Can't wait to try it!

                3. My wife and I went there on Sunday. we're still working on our notes.

                  The quick summary:

                  The East End now has legitimate BBQ!

                  While I dig Buster Rhinos the most and I think his bbq sauce is great, Leslieville Pumps certainly holds its own.

                  We had the following:

                  1. Chicken thigh sandwich - you could taste the smoke. Thighs were juicy. Sandwich was prepared fresh to order. taste-wise, i found it missing a kick or something remarkable. but smoked chicken doesn't perform as well as pork or brisket, so take my critique with a grain of salt.

                  2. Beef brisket sandwich - yep, its very good. Chucks of beef (not shaved or pulled) filled out a sandwich nicely. The mustard was great (almost had a subtle horseradish hint to it). the mesquite and hickory smoke tasted great. It didn't taste like a campfire and you could still taste the meat.

                  3. Poutine - beef gravy with a mix of Montforde mozzarella and cheese curds. i think that we prefer a lighter gravy, like one made from chicken stock, but the poutine was very good. fries were nicely done.

                  lunch for 2, including a drink, was around $30.

                  1. Went by today this afternoon. The store itself is a little odd and the guy behind the counter seemed a bit nervous. Undaunted I ordered the pulled pork. I didn't eat it there since the atmosphere was not that appealing and it was so nice I just took it to the park.

                    The verdict - really good. I liked the bun, which reminded me of a very fresh kaiser, and the pork was tender, with good amounts of sauce and coleslaw. I would have liked a tangier sauce, but that was just preference. Ate the whole thing and was very satisfied.

                    Will definitely go back. I'm hoping next time to bring someone so i can justify trying the sides - corn fritters or fried pickles.

                    1. I went to try it based on this thread. Never noticed it before even though I live in the area. I got the brisket sandwich. The brisket was very tender and the sauce was nice. Could have had more fried onion bits. Although it tasted great, I found the value very lacking. Small quantity of meat for $7.74 and it doesn't come with any sides. The toppings were lacking as well.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sbug206

                        I found the value a little off as well. And overall, I wasn't that enthused by the sandwich. I ordered the brisket as well, and found the first few bites enjoyable (was hungry I guess) but the rest of the sandwich kind of monotonous. Didn't find the onion bits added much and the flavour profile overall was mostly sweet and heavy, with a distinct lack of smokiness. And it was more of a cross between pulled beef and brisket, as in the brisket slices didn't have much texture or structure.

                        i suppose it'll do in a pinch, and leslieville definitely needs some quick takeout options. but i'm not a huge fan or anything.

                      2. Went this weekend and it was a bit of a mixed bag for me.

                        The good - the beef brisket was great. Juicy, not too saucy or sweet and with a nice hit of smoke. The grainy mustard and onions where the prefect addition to the sandwich and gave it nice layer of extra flavour and texture.

                        The ok - the chicken was juicy and for me had a good amount of smoke. The sauce was overly sweet for my liking needed some acid and salt. The toppings of mealy tomato and plain lettuce were a huge miss for me. I added some pickled red cabbage and remove the tomato and lettuce and it was much better but still lacking something.

                        The bad - the service. It seems like the gas guys were also taking the food orders and running the till but had no idea what was going on. The guy in line in front of me wanted the brisket with no onions or mustard and it took him explaining that three times before the till guy got it. I have no idea why it was so confusing for but it took a lot for the fellow ordering to get what he wanted.

                        I ordered corn fritters but ended up with pickles. The guy packing the bag even opened the box and still packed the pickles. We didn't make the trek back to make the change but I wish I would have checked myself before we left. The pickles were ok but needed some salt in the breading or right after they came out of the fryer.

                        Finally, they mark the sandwiches with a "C" chicken "B" brisket etc but they do it with some sort of perm blue marker on the tin foil side of the wrapper. Well it doesn't really dry and when I reached in to get the sandwiches from the bag I ended up with permanent marker all over my one-day old $40 shellac mani. :-( For the ladies out there, you know how much of a bummer this is and as a result, my $22 lunch turned into a $62 lunch to get my mani re-done before work tomorrow.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: JennaBean

                          Sorry to hear about your mani. I so understand!!

                          1. re: JennaBean

                            How does the pulled chicken compare with Black Camel? Also has anyone tried the "Veginator"?

                            1. re: kwass

                              I thought the sandwich was good, but not great. I will go out of my way to eat at Black Camel. These guys I'd visit again because I live in Leslieville. The pulled pork sandwich was tasty but a little dry. The corn fritters were good, but the sause could have used some lime.

                              1. re: currycue

                                Thank you for letting me know. I think I'll probably just stick with Black Camel then.

                                1. re: currycue

                                  I really didn't find it all that different than Black Camel (the missus started out saying she found it a little less moist than corrected herself when she realized she always orders extra sauce at BC). One advantage, this place has parking and more than 2 seats.

                                  At some point they are going to have to make some structural changes, I've never been there when the number of customers outnumbered the number of apparently paid staff, last time there were 4 people in the kitchen, three people working the counter and a guy cleaning and restocking shelves (and singing and talking to himself, loudly, non-stop, I've decided to find it charming and at least the place is clean). They've been open for how long now and the people taking orders and running the cash register still seem to barely understand what is being sold, last time I was in someone had to come out of the kitchen and explain to him what a "side order of cole slaw" was, and it's not like I was going off menu, it's right there on the chalkboard.

                              2. re: JennaBean

                                Went back last night to get it a second try. I'm so pleased to report - they stopped using the sharpie and switch to colour stickers!!! I know I know, this has nothing to do with the food but I was rather impressed.

                                On to the food. I tried the fritters and the pork this time. The pork was moist and tasty and I liked the coleslaw on top to give it that added crunch. I would like a little more vinegar in the slaw but over all I enjoyed it. I think the beef still beat it but the pork beats the chicken IMO.

                                The corn fritters were not at all what I expected. They were more of a yeast style fritter where I've had more of the cake/coarse cornmeal fritters in the past. They were good but I like the texture of the coarse cornmeal better.

                                The bigger issue I think is the counter staff. While I was there I watched them lose at three customers. They just were willing to wait while it appear the counter person ignored them. One person asked for the bbq brunch and the counter person didn't know if it was still available. One person asked for something else and the counter person had to go get someone from the kitchen to see if it was possible. It is just bad business. These folks need some serious training and fast!

                                1. re: JennaBean

                                  They are advertising for "customer service" staff (and cooks) so it seems they realize they have a problem. Self awareness is the first step in a cure.

                              3. Went by the Leslieville Pumps and tried the brisket sandwich, corn fritters and coleslaw. Loved all of them, the brisket was some of the best we've had, moist and flavourful. I thought the sandwich was a great deal at $7.99 when many places these days charge double digits for a decent sandwich (albeit with sides). The corn fritters were tasty, well fried and not greasy, creamy inside. The slaw was a good counterbalance to the other rich foods. Staff were friendly and quirky. Definitely will return.

                                1. Agree with others about the Brisket. Had a sandwich today and it ranks up there with the best brisket I have had. I asked for the BBQ on the side because I don't like my sandwiches slathered with it and I wasn't sure how they prepare it. I had one sandwich without any sauce on it and it was still moist and not dry. Enjoyed the crispy onions and the mustard too.

                                  I ate this sandwich after a donut and snack pack at Paulettes just a couple of doors over... I wanted to just take a bite to try it and it the rest later but I ended up eating a whole half right away :)

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ylsf

                                    As a business owner in the area I am so pleased to see this gas station take a new turn. It is clean, charming, and a great addition to Queen East. Leslieville has a unique charm that is hard to find and the more independent business we introduce and support the better!

                                    This place is amazing! The food is fantastic (especially the brisket and pulled pork) and the owners/staff always greet you with a smile. The prices may seem high to some but are completely in line with the area - they also support other local business such as hooked! Not to mention free parking and cheap gas! It is a no brainer really!

                                    Check it out – you won’t be disappointed.

                                  2. I'm a fiend for brisket and I'm very pleased to add my voice to the rising chorus- their brisket is absolutely top notch. The only possible, miniscule, niggling improvement I could even fathom to suggest would be putting some crunchy, slightly-vinegared slaw on top of the sandwich, but that's nothing compared to the quality of the brisket.

                                    Eat a brisket sandwich; you won't eat anything else there.

                                    1. since reading about them on here we've become addicted to the brisket and the pulled pork sandwiches - something about that roll - are they freshly baked? and the heavy, sweet, baked beans...this place is fantastic. like the fact that they aren't shy with the meat, very satisfying and completely justifies the price. Love the concept of the place - everything homemade/baked and they care...and curry and rice after 8, how perfect. wish more places in toronto could be this imaginative!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: pippineast

                                        i really enjoyed their smoked chicken sandwich, corn fritters (esp. w/the aioli!), and coleslaw. all were made with care, and were delicious.

                                      2. Yes? Hi! This is one of our new favourites. Everything is the super delicious and the Buffalo Buns are one of the best pastries in the city. We went the first time when they did the opening and the deliciousness is even the the better after the first few months.

                                        5 Replies
                                          1. re: julesrules

                                            It looks sort of like a pain a chocolat on steroids, I gather it's pain a chocolat made with cinnamon roll dough or something like that, I've never heard the term either and have not tried the ones trey sell at LPumps

                                            1. re: bytepusher

                                              Yeah, a lot of their baked good look like they are on steroids! I didn't know they made them all in house until recently..... Their are all HUGE though... I think I will fill up on Brisket and other sandwiches so I don't tempt myself with baked goods!

                                            2. re: julesrules

                                              yes? Hi! The Buffalo Bun is like the super croissant filled with the chocolate. It is the very moist and flaky and also the messy but the extra delicious and for the $1.95 the very good deal. Its not like the moon shape but the rectangle.

                                              1. re: Indianguy

                                                Sounds like my kinda thing, I might hit this place for lunch or a sweet Friday when I'm in the area. Thanks!

                                            1. re: Kassi22

                                              I know. I was really surprised when I read it given that everyone on CH has been raving about it.

                                              1. re: Kassi22

                                                Not so bad either.
                                                Hard to say when he says it's not worth driving from Mississauga but is to cottage country.


                                                1. re: Kassi22

                                                  Sounds like she went in with a lot of expectations having heard the hype regarding it.

                                                  Definitely one of the better sandwiches I have had in the city.... They don't cheap out on the meat like some places do and I enjoyed the flavours. I wouldn't drive in from out of town specifically for it, but, definitely will get one again when in the area. (Referring to Brisket).

                                                  1. re: Kassi22

                                                    I don't hate on Pataki as much as some but her standards seemed off. It doesn't have to be the best sandwich in the city to be good. They are nowhere near Barque location-wise and there is no other BBQ in the east end that I know of. The fact that actual smoked BBQ is becoming more common is a good thing!

                                                  2. Went on friday night. We tried:
                                                    Pulled Pork topped with slaw- Really delicious. A good meat to bun ratio for me. I know its not traditional, but I loved the toasty bun. The meat was tender, with no detectable chunks of inedible fat, though I can't say I got any big smoke flavour from it. The sauce (of which I ordered an extra side of for further investigation) was delicious. It was sweet, tangy without being cloying or too acidic.
                                                    Braised BBQ beef with crispy onions and grainy mustard- I also really enjoyed the beef, it was juicy, tender and also went nicely with the sauce. What I liked most about this was the crispy onions- against the tender beef and sauce, they were as crackly, crunchy and salty as little potato chips. My only criticism would have been that I found the mustard overwhelming to the point that I had to add on more BBQ sauce to mask the pungent bite.
                                                    Hush puppies- I understand that others prefer the cornmeal batter, but for me- these were perfect. They reminded me of little savoury doughnuts with corn inside (why have I never thought of this?). Fluffy and moist on the inside, crunchy on the outside, and finished with a sprinkling of coarse salt, these were completely addictive. I could have probably used some kind of dipping sauce for me to be able to eat many more, though.
                                                    Deep fried pickles- Another winner for me. I've had a lot of fried pickles in my day, and these one's were some of the best because of the crunch factor. They had been generously battered and breaded which really made the tangy juicy pickle even more defined.
                                                    Coleslaw- Not my favourite slaw as I found it to be a little underseasoned for me, and maybe lacking a bit of acid. But still, I liked the peppery notes and it did offer a nice palate cleanser from all of the rich and fried foods.
                                                    So for all of that plus a couple of old school Pop Shop pops, the bill came to $35. Ha. Awesome- so much so that we enjoyed a nice stroll around the neighbourhood and popped into the bustling Ed's Ice Cream for dessert (mmm.. Caramel Cheesecake- amazing). Finally, the east end is making its comeback.


                                                    1. Tried them out last night for dinner. Loved the beef brisket, although neither the crispy onions or mustard made much of an impression (sad about the onions, glad about the mustard), the beef itself was great.
                                                      The pulled pork is also very good, the sauce just a touch sweet & tangy for me overwhelming the pork a bit - personal preference.
                                                      My only complaint was with the fried stuff - the fries and corn fritters. Not only were they overdone to my taste, quite dark in colour, but the oil seemed to have penetrated deeper than it should. A lot of the fries were crispy all the way through. More than a matter of too much time in the fryer I had to wonder if the oil temp was off. Maybe this was a one-time issue because no one else has mentioned it?
                                                      On another occasion I did stop in for a cornbread muffin which was very good. The sweet baked goods are indeed huge.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: julesrules

                                                        i've had their corn fritters twice now, and have not noticed that issue. the ones i've had have been just about perfect level of brownness on the outside, nice and soft inside, quite delicious actually. perhaps it was an oversight with the fryer?

                                                        i will also buck the trend a little bit and say that i prefer the chicken sandwich to the pulled pork. both are fine sandwiches, i just personally prefer the chicken. also, their cole slaw and bbq corn salad are superb.

                                                      2. Tried them out today. The brisket sandwich wasn't as smokey as we were expecting, but still very tasty. There seemed to be only one crispy onion and the mustard was only a faint trace, which was fine by us. The pulled pork was also very good, with just enough tangy sauce, and enhanced by the crunchy cole slaw.

                                                        We also tried the baked beans, which were dark and had a nice sour undertone. The BBQ corn salad was also quite good - charred kernels mixed with barley, peppers, and purple onion. The dressing could have been a little less sweet, but otherwise it was refreshing counterbalance to the richness of the sandwiches.

                                                        Being a little overambitious, we also bought a Buffalo bun. We have saved this for after dinner tonight.

                                                        1. Tried the pulled pork sandwich. The pork was soft, pulled, shredded and mixed w/ a sweet sauce. I couldn't detect much, if any tanginess in the sauce and no smoke. It's an ok sandwich, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

                                                          If you buy gas, you have to pay inside. The pumps didn't have card readers.

                                                          1. I've been a couple of times already but not for a while...so today, stopped in for a beef brisket sandwich, sponge toffee and salt caramel brownie. The brisket isn't too smoky but it's definitely there, with a strong hint of horseradish mustard. I can't wait to try the curry after 9 pm someday - nobody on this thread has reviewed the curry yet - any updates?

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Food Tourist

                                                              I have had the curry earlier this year and it is made by the south asian lady, not the usual cooks of the american food.

                                                            2. Has anyone been here recently that can comment? I am considering a visit here later this week.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                We were there last month and September. Last month, we tried the after 9 PM specials: butter chicken and curry chicken. Both were $9 and fine, perfect if you're hungry and not finicky and need to fill up the tank before the price of gas goes up again. September we had brisket and bacon corn fritters. No detectable smoke in the brisket, but it was moist and tender. The fritters were good, but could've used more bacon IMO.

                                                                1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                  I will say that the customer service issues that used to plague the place are fixed, the food service and the gas station are separately staffed (at least until the switch to the after 9PM menu) and there is a full time order taker/cashier who knows the menu.

                                                                  I've enjoyed the food sandwiches and always get a side order of the fritters.

                                                                2. I took an out of town guest for a late lunch this summer. We made a stop on our way back to his Bloor St hotel from the beaches. It was about 3pm on a Saturday on a sunny day. We were told 3 times that it is a take out spot and not designed for eating in (despite their being several picnic tables). And of course our order came packaged 'to go' even though we explained we would like to enjoy the meal on premises. I was not impressed by the service as I found the young women to have attitude and very little initiative. Example: my dining partner does not like drinking from a pop can so he asked for a cup. We needed to make a second trip to request ice. I would have thought she would have offered it.

                                                                  I would give the meal a 7.5 out of 10. We enjoyed a waffle sandwich, brisket and poutine. The poutine was the highlight. And I love having cherry coke. I would venture back one day but I would not make a specific trip.

                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                  1. re: mskatsam

                                                                    Yikes, what a way to make a customer feel welcome. Terrible.

                                                                    1. re: magic

                                                                      I loathe poor customer service on any day but I really bristle when I am trying to impress an out of town guest. Sigh ...

                                                                        1. re: magic

                                                                          I just recall being embarrassed by the service. I'm not one to leap to make a complaint - I just posted as I saw someone say the customer service issues seemed straightened out. I do hope that is the case. I love the concept. My friend had a craving for fried chicken - which is how we ended up at the Pump. That same weekend we ate at the Grove, Edulis, Buca, Rock Lobster and Acadia so all was not lost.

                                                                          1. re: mskatsam

                                                                            Well, it is a gas station after all....

                                                                            1. re: HandPay

                                                                              Yeah I'm not super-dismayed by the service described either. The ice thing is just whatever, perhaps clueless at worst. Maybe they pack everything "to go" and have no other way of presenting things. I imagine she was just doing what she was trained to do. No one expects "initiave" at primarily take-out places like McD's or Tim Horton's.

                                                                            2. re: mskatsam

                                                                              Explanation: My out of town guest wanted fried chicken while on his trip to the city. He had hoped to eat at Paulette's Chicken on Queen St East but when we arrived we discovered it was closed. (He read about the chicken in the Eating and Drinking edition of Toronto Life. I had tried to get him to the Drake or Harlem but his heart was set on trip to east end. As Paulette's was no longer in operation I suggested the Leslieville Pump.

                                                                              For the record, I dashed off a post to this site in haste and I stand to be corrected. I did not expect to 'impress' in the sense that the trip revolved around the Leslieville Pump experience.

                                                                              That being said I do enjoy a variety of places in the city from greasy spoon diners to fine dining. And my out of town guest is a friendly, chatty man who is quite pleasant to staff. I saw the LesliePumps mentioned and shared my experience. How I wish that I could have offered a more pleasant experience that discussed the food or favorable service. As I mentioned above - I love the concept and I enjoy the kitschy feel of the Country General Store. The baked goods looked amazing. But for me to recall 3 months later the attitude and curtness from staff telling us 3 times that we are meant to take food to go and that asking for ice was so memorable that I posted on chowhound was simply a comment I shared with the board. Note: I did not run right home to vent on the board immed after my visit with my panties in a bunch but commented months after the fact.

                                                                              There is often a difference I feel when I am dining solo or with local friends. But sometimes when you have an out of town guest you feel a little more sensitive to hoping their limited time in the city is favorable. But it's a chance you take when you go at the last minute to a new place rather than the tried, tested and true. If I was to return to this establishment rest assured I would know to take the food 'to go'.

                                                                          2. re: mskatsam

                                                                            if you want to impress an out of town guest, perhaps you should take them somewhere other than a gas station?

                                                                            It's like going to Chicago and complaining about the treatment at Weiner's Circle.

                                                                            just a thought.

                                                                            1. re: atomeyes

                                                                              No kidding. Asking for a cup and then complaining because you have to go back because you didn't ask for ice? Some people just live in a world of their own.

                                                                              1. re: atomeyes

                                                                                Do gas monkeys smoke the brisket at Leslieville Pumps?!

                                                                                There might be gas here, but make no mistake Leslieville Pumps is very much a restaurant, casual in nature though it might be.

                                                                                There's no excuse for the shabby service mskatsam received and I find it all too common in many Toronto joints. If there are picnic tables it makes no sense that mskatsam would be given the bum’s rush in such an obvious way (if that is what happened). Unacceptable, and mskatsam is right to be miffed.

                                                                              2. re: mskatsam

                                                                                Folks, we've ended up removing a bunch of posts from this thread because they were getting fairly unfriendly. If you've got personal experiences at Leslieville Pumps to share, that's great. But if you just want to debate whether mskatsam's impressions were or weren't reasonable, please just let it go. People are welcome to share their opinions and experiences here, even if you wouldn't have felt the same about a similar experience.

                                                                                1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                  I have not seen posts about this place in some time and I have been just loving it so I wanted to share: I have been 4 times now and there are delightful, friendly and knowledgeable young women taking orders. The food is fantastic. The smoked butter chicken sandwich is delicious, moist, smokey goodness on a great, fresh bun and the sliced apple and arugula complete it. It is perfection. I recently tried the poutine and it was one of the best I've had in Toronto. The curds were larger than most and the gravy was smokey and incredibly rich.

                                                                                  I read all the comments about staff and service. On mother's day our vehicle died in their parking lot while we were getting sandwiches. We notified the staff that it would be some time before CAA could come and tow it and they were totally nice about our minivan taking up space in their lot indefinitely and our family of four camping out at the picnic tables.