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Guess I went to the wrong "stockyards" because my experience wasn't that great

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I've been following these boards for a while now and I've discovered that everyone has different tastes. Ironically the rave reviews about certain places "Burger Priest" "Stockyards" that were highly lauded by the masses here and on yelp weren't that great in my opinion.

Burger Priest was not bad, but I wouldn't say it was the best burger I ever had. Plus I didn't care for the wait or the overall attitude of the joint at the queen location "This is a waiting area, do not consume food here" what seemed like the pushing of religion.

On the other hand, Banh Mi Boys which I discovered on my own when they were at the waterfront market last year and closely followed their opening was a nice surprise. Though it's great alot of people like it, I didn't jump the band wagon on that because I already knew of them before they exploded onto the scene.

Anyways, back to stockyards. I've read alot of good reviews based on people's experience at Stockyards. I was really excited to go and I wasn't expecting five star dining in any way but here's what I ordered.

Classic burger combo with a home-made iced tea.

We went on a hot day 29C+ and this place doesn't have AC. We decided to stay by the front because the back was even hotter with the kitchen.

Burger was good, but as other people mentioned the bun gets soggy if you don't eat it right away. The fries were dry and cold. How they became cold I'll never understand because it wasn't busy but my fries were made to order because i asked for no salt. My dining companion's fries were also cold and his were regularly salted I presume.

The iced tea was cold, but it was 3/4 fill in the cup (I thought it was wierd they didn't put ice in there to fill it up and given that it was a hot day). Not a fan of the ginger taste, I like ginger but I don't like iced tea with ginger.

Service was kinda meh, not great but not too bad.

Did I order the wrong thing? A good burger should stand alone by itself without any bells and whistles of double patties, grilled cheese sandwiches, and the such.

Big turn off with the cold fries and iced tea. I'd like to come back to try the chicken but I don't think it's worth it. Did I go to the wrong one? Do they have a better one on the other side of St Clair?

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  1. That's too bad about your experience with Stockyards. I'd have said something about the fries. I've had nothing but amazing fries from there.

    I will touch on something about BP on Queen. That area is for waiting not food consumption. If they allow people to eat food there then they are required, by law, to provide bathroom facilities. So they're just enforcing the rule. Sorry if you don't like it. I don't either but unless the convenience store next door moves out and they expand, you have to take your food to go.

    DT

    2 Replies
    1. re: Davwud

      Thanks for that note Davwud, was wondering why they changed that policy because I had eaten there on the two occasions I had been before.

      Re: Stockyards, I haven't had the burger but really enjoyed the fried chicken, enjoyed the ribs too (not "wow, amazing, but good"). Friend is a big fan of the burger and she goes all the time for it.

      I found the service very friendly when I have been there in the past.

      1. re: ylsf

        if you're interested in trying the burger, consider the butter burger. bone marrow, blue cheese, crispy fried onions. now i want one, but i've already had lunch!

    2. I'm going to Stockyards this weekend. This will be my first visit. I'll order the cheeseburger, and give the Board my 2 cents after I try it. I won't bother with the fries, since I'm a snob when it comes to fries in Toronto. Only 3 restaurants are capable of meeting my high standards, and the type of fries I like would be an inappropriate match to the genre of burger I'll be ordering at Stockyards.

      Besides ginger iced tea and standard pop, does Stockyards stock any less common soft drinks?

      This is an important phrase all relatively new posters should learn: Your Mileage May Vary.

      11 Replies
      1. re: prima

        They make a delicious limeade (with mint, I think).

        I know you're going for a burger, but if you have stomach space or a friend to share with, get the biscuits and gravy. Their biscuits are addictive and the sausage gravy is the best I've had in Toronto (I still like mine better, though -- which I actually think is a recipe I snagged from Davwud years ago on the home cooking board!).

        1. re: TorontoJo

          Thanks, TorontoJo :-) I love limeade, and will try out the biscuits and gravy. Too bad they don't make 2-bite biscuits. (Yet. Maybe Stockyard's will read this thread? )

        2. re: prima

          Prima, if you're a fries snob you should probably try theirs. Even if you see an order being put together maybe ask for a sample. IMHO they're the best fries I've had.

          DT

          1. re: Davwud

            Ok Davwud, now I'm curious. I'll try the fries, but only because of your encouragement.

            By the way, does your def'n of fries include frites? :-) Or do you judge like fries against like fries, depending on the school of the fry?

            1. re: prima

              i find the stockyards fries a bit jk-esque. not as nicely done, but similar regards to size, herbs and overall flavour. the texture could be improved.

              i kinda love/hate stockyards. my last few experiences haven't been very good but the things that i love are executed amazingly. god damn, i need that pastrami.

          2. re: prima

            Which three restaurants meet your high fry standards?

            1. re: Full tummy

              Back in the day JK Wine Bar had amazing fries. Splendido has great fries. And for cheap and cheerful I like the ones at Le Select done in peanut oil.

              1. re: JennaBean

                Oddly enough, very seldom do I have the fries at Splendido. You think they're really that good? Don't they have the same at Note Bene? I like more of a "frite" than a "fry", so perhaps that's where the discrepancy lies.

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                1. re: justxpete

                  Have you had them at the County? They are the same. Water blanched and then twice deep fried. More of a fry than a frite.

                  1. re: JennaBean

                    Many, many times.

                    My favourite fries ever were during two weeks last year at Burger Priest - perfectly golden, tender, and potato-y. Sadly, they no longer produce them that way, and the fries are now just better-than-average.

                    I really don't have a favourite fry now, although I do like the fries at Stockyards.

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              2. re: Full tummy

                My current top 2 are the frites at Nota Bene (hold the cheese) and Starfish.

            2. Sorry you didn't have a good experience there. Sidestepping the bandwagon-hopping business, or why you think this is important to tell us (since I don't want my post deleted as well), I'd have to say:

              I've been a number of times, and have always had great fries. I'm not disputing that yours were subpar, I'm just suggesting that it was probably an exception, and not, in my experience, or those of the people I've gone with, the rule.

              I don't really get some of your comments, though - it seems a bit like you want to find fault. If you don't like iced tea with ginger, then why did you order it, when the menu clearly states that their iced tea comes with ginger? Similarly, about the soggy bun, well, I've had burgers there quite happily, and without undue sogginess, but didn't you say you eat there? Why would you not eat it upon receiving it, and let it get soggy?

              Anyway, too bad you didn't like it. I suppose any restaurant can have an off day, and expectations can vary pretty widely.

              1. I have to chime on the "bandwagon" debate and say that while Stockyards does get a lot of love on this site, the burger has had mixed reviews. Go by this board and you'll see the fried chicken and the ribs are usually the biggest draw for people. You definitely should have sent the fries back -- and next time try the lime-ade -- it is phenomenal. For the most part, I find that CH is a good way to go beyond the reviewers (and the bandwagon) and to get some insight into what dishes a popular resto does best (the Khao San Road post is a great example of this...).

                1. After reading this post the BF and I went on Sunday afternoon. Pleased to report the burger with bacon and cheese was as good as always. The fried chicken with crisp, perfectly season, moist and tender. The fries were hot, crispy and salty. The service was great and fast given the never ending line of people for dining in and takeout. The room was hotter than hell but c'est la vie in a small resto with no A/C on rather hot muggy day in TO.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: JennaBean

                    Wasn't hot inside at 10:15 am, but the burgers don't start til around 12 on Sun. Most seats were full around 11:15, but still no line-up at that time. There was a short line-up of 3 or 4 people at 4:55 pm, when I happened to walk by. Enjoyed the chicken & waffles. Will be back for the burger.

                    1. re: prima

                      We were there just as burger time hit. We waited about 15 mins for two spots and there were about six people waiting when we left. It was hot hot hot.

                      1. re: JennaBean

                        and the fries?

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                        1. re: justxpete

                          "The fries were hot, crispy and salty."

                          1. re: haggisdragon

                            That doesn't mean she liked them (necessarily)!

                            Ps, Jenna - you might enjoy the fries at BestEllen - we went for the steak again tonight (oops!), but ordered the fries this time - delicious.

                            1. re: justxpete

                              I did like them! I prefer mine with the skin left on so that's always a bonus. My BF ate almost all of his fries and he hardly ever does that!

                  2. I wouldn't have gone to Stockyards for their burger, IMHO. I go to Stockyards for their fried chicken, ribs or brisket. That's weird about your fries as each time I've gone my fries were hot and delicious. Before you finalize your opinion about them, you should go back and give them one more try, but order fried chicken, ribs or their brisket. Although as much as I love their fried chicken I think Harlem does it better, not by much, but still better.

                    45 Replies
                    1. re: scarberian

                      My husband had the fried chicken and was seriously underwhlemed. Hhe thought their cole slaw was just ok.

                      1. re: sherry f

                        What did he find underwhelming about it?

                        When I get it it's always crisp, very flavourful and juicy. IMO I found the flavour has got that right combination of spice and saltiness.

                        1. re: scarberian

                          +1. My Sunday trip was a great reminder. I wish it were closer to home!

                          1. re: scarberian

                            Agreed. If you don't like their's, you must not like fried chicken.

                            DT

                            1. re: Davwud

                              Davwud, we finally agree on something. :)

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                              1. re: Davwud

                                huh, that's an interesting thought. i've tried stockyards' fried chicken once and thought it was perfectly ok. i mean even ok fried chicken is pretty great, but i didn't think it stood out in any way. i hope this doesn't mean i don't like fried chicken, because i'm pretty sure i'm crazy about it!

                                1. re: autopi

                                  I always thought that you have to be a vegan NOT to like fried chicken. C'mon it's FRIED! And that crispy skin and coating is heaven. However, fried chicken as pretty simple as it is can be screwed up if over cooked or the oil not hot enough so it's greasy or undercooked inside burnt outside or no flavour at all. IMO I always liked a buttermilk marinated chicken dredged in a spiced flour and fried in a skillet. I'm also quite fond of the "double dipped" variety with their extra crispy skin. However even simple salt and pepper can make a very good fried chicken if cooked right (crispy coating/skin, cooked through BUT juicy).

                                  I guess I'm just wondering what those who were not impressed were expecting. What flavours did they think they were going to get or was it tasteless to them? Can we agree that it's way better than KFC or are those who were not impressed think it's exactly like KFC?

                                  1. re: scarberian

                                    While I enjoyed the fried chicken at Stockyards (as part of the chicken & waffles),and I think it's a good version for TO, it could be juicier. While I did like it, and would certainly order it again, I've had better at home, at family restaurants in the States, at Chez Panisse Cafe, and at a food court in Atlanta. I haven't tried Harlem's version yet.

                                    I don't think anyone who was underwhelmed is saying the Stockyards' version is exactly like KFC. KFC is much saltier, more heavily spiced, tastes like fast food, and tends to be greasier than my order at The Stockyards was. It's a completely different type of fried chicken than KFC, whether you're impressed by it, underwhelmed by it or find it perfectly acceptable but not earth-shattering.

                                    There's no accounting for taste. ;-)

                                    1. re: prima

                                      Stockyards is my favorite Fried Chicken in TO by far and I think it blows Harlems version out the water. To be honest though I haven't truly enjoyed anything I had at Harlem. Stockyards though, Great Fried Chicken and Fries. Plan on trying the Burger next time I am in town.

                                      1. re: Matt H

                                        I guess we can all agree to disagree =). I prefer Harlem's fried chicken slightly over Stockyards whereas others such as Matt are opposite and then there are those who just don't like Stockyards' fried chicken or are not impressed by it. Like with all the recommendations in this forum we should always stick a "buyer beware" warning as it always depends on personal taste i.e. the burger debate. However we should never stop giving our recommendations/opinions as I would never have ventured around the city to experience these places i.e. Harlem, Porchetta & Co., BP, Stockyards, etc.

                                        1. re: scarberian

                                          Its the beauty of this board!

                            2. re: sherry f

                              mine was SO DRY. haven't bothered with it since.

                              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                IMO, the great thing about the Stockyards is that there are MANY good choices. I happen to enjoy their Fried Chicken, but if they have Pastrami, I usually order that. Porchetta sandwich is good. Burgers may not be the BEST in the city, but they are certainly worth honorable mention and the brunch is good too. Personally, I love their fries and glass bottle cokes. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinions/choices and if you don't like the Stockyards, no problem. That just makes it a bit easier (not much - LOL) to get a seat for those who do! (thanks)

                                1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                                  my response was specifically about the fried chicken. depending on my mood the coleslaw works or doesn't work.

                                  i'm usually one of the people elbowing others for a stool to chow down on pastrami or an animal style and some fries. other items i have places where i like their style better.

                                  the point is that everyone is entitled to their opinion and very few people say anything negative about the fried chicken that i just wanted to offer another experience that wasn't positive so that they didn't feel culted out, which is a frequent complaint about CH.

                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                    agreed, princess. All CH opinions are appreciated (whether I agree or not). Also, didn't mean to imply that you didn't like Stockyards as I was speaking in general terms. It was clear you were referencing their fried chicken.

                                    BTW... I think I've been "elbowed" by you. (just kidding)

                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                      Pinstripeprincess

                                      Finally I feel like I have some sort of support or agreement. My intention with my post was to voice that I had a less than stellar experience and that it wasn't just my meal that was subpar but someone else's as well. I shouldn't say subpar, what I mean is that I was really excited going in and I think I had my expectations too high so to speak.

                                      Everyone has different tastes. I am hesitant to try the fried chicken because if I do and I come onto here to say it I don't want to think what the backlash could be.

                                      I said it before and I'll say it again, I wanted to know if my less than great experience was based on what we ordered. I like fried chicken and waffles are ok but I'm not so sure about the sweet and savory combination. If I find myself in the area (I doubt it, if I go there i am going there for SY) I'd like to try the donughnuts.

                                      1. re: flonie

                                        doughnuts?

                                        the best, THE BEST, thing at stockyards is their pastrami by leaps bounds and ridiculousness. sometimes i've gotten slightly drier versions, but regardless it is still TOPs in this city even in that state. no comparison bar none. i have friends buy me take-out of it when they see it so i can keep it frozen to eat whenever i want. the problem, is for some reason it has never gained traction and when they tried to make it a regular menu item it wasn't ordered enough and they just had too much loss. so now it's back to being a random special, the main reason i follow them on twitter.

                                        THAT is why i love the stockyards.

                                        1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                          I've never had pastrami that's better.

                                          DT

                                          1. re: Davwud

                                            Agree, that is some amazing pastrami they're serving.

                                          2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                            Odd, your post didn't include anything about the Fried Chicken. :P Will definitely have to check out the Pastrami next time I order. Thanks Pinstripe!

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                                            1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                              It's not for a lack of trying but I haven't been able to get the pastrami at Stockyards yet. Pre-regular menu listing we were never there when it was available as a special. After-regular menu listing, the one time we went, they didn't have any pastrami! Now it's back to random special again. AAAHHH!!!

                                              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                princess... have to agree with you and Davwud re: their Pastrami. Even better than the "Famous" Moe Pancer's pastrami (just OK, IMO)

                                                If they have Pastrami as a special, it's a must order for me.

                                                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                  Funny I tried it once and didn't like it at all. I see I'm in the minority here but it left my mouth feeling like it had been covered in potassium nitrate and I've never been able to bring myself to try it again.

                                                  1. re: JennaBean

                                                    hrm... i'll sample a bunch in my freezer more closely, but that feeling has never happened to me and i think i'm a bit sensitive to that. usually for me it's a very heavy spicing. that's a shame, kind of stuff that turns me off!

                                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                      I've only had it once so maybe it was just a bad experience but it just leave me wanting to have it again.

                                            2. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                                              It should go without saying that disliking the fried chicken at The Stockyards is not the same as disliking The Stockyards. ;-)

                                              1. re: prima

                                                That's true - I dislike the Stockyards! (and I've never had their fried chicken).

                                                1. re: estufarian

                                                  Glad to see my Philosophy 101 has paid off almost 20 years later! Money well spent. ;-)

                                                  1. re: estufarian

                                                    To quote the Simpsons, "that's un-posssible"!!!

                                                    ;)

                                                    1. re: justxpete

                                                      Sorry (to both Prima and you) - just couldn't resist it!
                                                      Even if it is true!!!

                                                      1. re: estufarian

                                                        No need to apologize! ;-)

                                                        1. re: prima

                                                          I think you have to reserve judgement until you have the fried chicken - it's the only thing I get there. Just being honest!

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                                                          1. re: justxpete

                                                            I had the fried chicken + waffles on Sunday morning. The fried chicken was good, and I'd order it again if I was in the neighbourhood, but I've had better! It's a little dry (even the dark meat), and I think it would benefit from more a longer soak in brine or buttermilk. I did like the coating and seasoning.

                                                            1. re: prima

                                                              I think they have off days and on days - but fair enough. Where's better in TO, so I can confirm for myself? :)

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                                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                                I agree with justxpete. They must have off days. I guess I've been really fortunate because my chicken has never been dry. Did you end up trying the biscuits prima? I have to agree with TorontoJo...they are absolutely addictive...especially when you get there first thing Sunday morning and they're hot out of the oven!! Yum-my!!

                                                                1. re: kwass

                                                                  And I'll support the "off days" position. Heck, they can be off within the same day. My first experience with their fried chicken was totally mixed. My first piece was utterly and completely bland. Totally devoid of salt or any other seasoning. I almost threw the rest out. Fortunately, I tried a second piece and it was delicious.

                                                                  Same order. Go figure.

                                                                  If I had only had the first piece, I would have written off their fried chicken for good. However, I still prefer other items on their menu to the chicken, so I never order it. To each their own, and amen for that! :)

                                                                2. re: justxpete

                                                                  I don't know which restaurant versions in TO would be better. Home-made buttermilk-soaked versions are better than what I received at Stockyards, but maybe my batch at Stockyards was less perfect than others.

                                                                  As I said, the chicken (on its own) was good, it just wasn't phenomenal. For me, the sum of the parts (spicy syrup, chicken and waffle) were worth ordering again.

                                                                  This is a good recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/bu....
                                                                  For a simpler recipe (that I haven't tried, but it looks similar to others I've tried), this one looks decent: http://www.chow.com/recipes/29621-bas...

                                                                3. re: prima

                                                                  And I'm not a great fan of Fried Chicken anywhere. Just don't get it! But to each their own - Vive La Différence. (I think justxpete's comment was intended for me).

                                                                  1. re: estufarian

                                                                    Indeed it was - and makes sense now. Ps, I really enjoyed Edulis. Seems we're slightly opposite, only sharing a mutual passion for Splendido. :)

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                                                                    1. re: justxpete

                                                                      Yes, we only had Splendido in common for our top 10 list (in January). But that's why we need multiple places in Toronto - fortunately it's NOT one size (or place) fits all (otherwise I wouldn't be able to get in!).

                                                                    2. re: estufarian

                                                                      Ha. Agree. As you know, I don't "get" peameal bacon on a bun! ;-)

                                                                      1. re: prima

                                                                        And now that People's Diner has closed, neither can I!

                                                                        1. re: prima

                                                                          is that vegetarian?

                                                          2. re: prima

                                                            Agreed, Prima and yet, pinstripeprincess obviously felt the need to clarify that her comments were about the Chicken only, thus my response.

                                                        2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                          Mine too!

                                                    2. AND SO -- just in time for our relief -- NOW magazine today pronounces Stockyards the best in GTA, followed by Rhino's, Lou Dawgs, Hadley, and Barque (in that order). Phil's is OK, but "exorbitant" says NOW.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: Dean Tudor

                                                        the best what?

                                                        1. re: EverymanJack

                                                          Im assuming best BBQ. I know I praised Stockyards above, but that is purely for the Fried Chicken and Fries....the BBQ is beyond Mediocre. Buster Rhino's though is some really good stuff.

                                                          Otherwise haven't tried any of the others on the list outside of Phils, which I dont think anyone has honestly liked in a long time.

                                                          1. re: EverymanJack

                                                            Best BBQ...

                                                            Of the lot, I liked Lou Dawgs and Phil's, but that's only for ribs and pulled pork.

                                                            Dinosaur's in Syracuse and Rochester are my closest go-to places.

                                                            1. re: Dean Tudor

                                                              The particular Lou Dawgs they mentioned in Now Magazine article was the "Ryerson" location. Didn't even know they had a 2nd location outside of the King Street one.

                                                              BTW, Dinosaur's will be getting closer, they are opening a location in Buffalo in the next year or so, heard it on Buffalo radio.

                                                              1. re: ylsf

                                                                Thank you ylsf, great news on Dinosaur. Maybe St. Catharines will be their next location -- as they march westward?

                                                                I still have not been to Ryerson location of Lou Dawgs, but I do like the King St location: nice and quiet, no student chatter, just medium-loud blues music.