BARQUE SMOKEHOUSE | **

Barque serves up juicy, exquisitely cooked meats, delivering subtle and harmonious flavours with a bias towards the sweet.  A decidedly safe combination for a BBQ joint, but when’s the last time you craved safe BBQ?

www.barque.ca
BBQ | Roncesvalles
Dinner for two ~$90 incl. tax + tip.

FOOD
We were greeted with a small pail of (somewhat stale) spiced popcorn once seated.  Our smoked Maker’s Mark bourbon arrived in individual carafes nestled inside our respective ice-filled glasses — Barque had our attention. Unfortunately, a general sense of “meh-ness” would turn out to be the theme of the night.

We were very pleased with our 2-bite Beef Cheek Tacos. Tender and tasty with delicate, contrasting notes, it was appropriately good…but not great. Our beautiful Sampler for Two arrived, with an adequately-sized pile of three separate meats of our choosing. Everything was cooked almost perfectly (the ribs were on the dry side; and yes, we realize competition ribs are not supposed to fall off the bone) but nothing really blew us away.  The Brisket was soft, moist, and delicious, but a little too sweet where we would have preferred bold (and the brush-on BBQ sauces only added to the sugar content). The in-house smoked Italian Sausage consisted of an evenly crisp layer of skin, encasing a lovely fennel and spice blend. We wouldn’t have been surprised to find such quality hanging in Nonno’s cantina; and yet, we doubt Nonna would brag to her friends about it. The Sweet-Heat Ribs briefly shifted the flavour game to a more intense and spicy venue, but the slight dryness required us to paint on those signature sauces, which quickly took away its bite.

The sides complimented the mains nicely, with a crunchy Root Vegetable Slaw, encircled by a moat of pureed parsley root and cream sauce, being the highlight. The Penne Rigate was savory and creamy, and the Fries were simple and spiced to our liking.

SERVICE 
After waiting an hour for a table on a Tuesday evening (we did not have a reservation), we were reminded by our punctually cognizant hostess that we had returned 5 minutes early (oops).  Apart from this, the servers made us feel right at home, lending to the laid back environment that Barque strives for.  One of the servers even offered to replace our entire heaped plate of meats because his pinky accidentally brushed up on the ribs.  Of course, we kept the food, but any germaphobes keeping score can add a brownie point to his or her scorecard.

ATMOSPHERE
An inviting, smokey smell greets you as you enter into a nice, warm, good ol’ laid back BBQ joint. Unlike some popular try-too-hard-to-be-hip Toronto spots, this place didn’t blast loud music and made it easy to hold a conversation. For a Tuesday evening, the place was packed.

VALUE
Good value, as we definitely did not feel gypped (but we also didn’t feel like we got a fabulous deal, either).

HIPSTER SCALE
Although there was a slight waft of that “hipster-vibe” billowing in the atmosphere, the situation is under control; in fact, we didn’t spot any old tyme moustaches (but plenty of plaid).

WASHROOM
Spacious and personal his/hers washrooms are secured with large, wooden, make-you-smile sliding barn doors, sealed by large, black bolt-locks that make a satisfying latch-y sound when fastened. As well, an added communal hand wash station is clean and smart, especially after the ribs.

BUZZ 
Anonymous, Toronto Life: 2/5 Stars
Ryan Spencer, BlogTO: 4.3/5 Stars
Joanne Kates, Post City: #49 on Kates’ 100, 2013
Yelp: 4 Stars (at time of writing)
Barque Smokehouse on Urbanspoon


 

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