With newish barbecue joints TheStockyards and Hadley’s still going gangbusters and Hardy’sset to open this June, it looks like the Big Smoke is finally starting to live up to its name. Toronto’s newest smokehouse is Barque, a laid-back Roncesvalles spot whose fare is a little lighter than the artery-clogging calorie bombs usually associated with the cuisine of the American South. “There’s no reason why barbecue needs to be heavy,” says chef and owner David Neinstein, as he slathers his homemade rub on a sky-high pile of smoker-ready ribs.
Barque is the first foray into the Toronto restaurant world for Neinstein (who has a background in advertising) and his partner-in-brine, Jonathan Persofsky. After ditching a corporate gig to cook in France for a year, Neinstein made his way to a small town in northern Oklahoma, where he worked at a neighbourhood eatery for six months, becoming something of a pit master along the way (this sort of pilgrimage to the South seems to be a prerequisite for opening a new barbecue joint). Now he’s bringing his fresh take on southern classics to a neighbourhood filled with diners who, he says, are “young, educated and who know their food.”
Neinstein’s goal is to dispel the notion that barbecue has to be gut-busting by presenting more refined takes on the classics. His mac-and-cheese, for example, consists of handmade spinach and ricotta ravioli with tarragon and sage butter sauce ($4). But lovers of good old comfort food need not worry: Neinstein’s smoky menu includes classics like the aforementioned baby back ribs ($16 for a half-rack, $24 for a full) or smoked barbecue wings ($8), all courtesy of the enormous rotisserie-style, 500-pound-capacity smoker imported from Tennessee. And instead of the standard jug of beer to wash it all down, guests can indulge in a glass from of wine Barque’s extensive list.
The interior goes the traditional haute-BBQ route, with reclaimed wood and exposed brick, courtesy of the Design Agency (Brassaii, The Roosevelt Room),a noticeable upgrade from the plastic chairs and sticky counters normally associated with this type of cuisine. And for those who need their fix early, you’re in luck: Barque is now open for lunch and brunch as well.
7 thoughts on “Introducing: Barque, Roncesvalles’s new, lighter take on the traditional smokehouse”
Barque – what an awesome eating experience. The food was absolutely amazing and I whole heartedly recommend this restaurant to anyone that loves barbecue. Funny enough…I have always said that I love barbecued food..however, it was obvious that I really never knew “real barbecue” until I ate at Barque earlier this week. Cudos to the chef…100% great tasting food.
My table of 8 was thoroughly impressed and seriously full…myself included, and I’m a pig. Delicious! Awesome atmosphere too. Perfect. Thanks guys!
A fabulous addition to the neighbourhood! Roncesvalles Rocks!
Great if your genetically modified meat covered in white sugar and salt and washed down with bottomless pepsi.
Smart business men/pushers.
Worst experience of the summer.
Seven of us wanted to go for dinner July 31. We tried to make reservations and were told they didn’t take reservations. A friend went a little before everyone to stand in line. They asked her if she had reservations and she told them she had been told by someone when we phoned that they didn’t take them. They sat her on the patio and told her she had to get us there right away or she would lose her seat.
When the friend that had tried to make the reservation and was told they didn’t take them, was then told she would have to order because our reservation started half an hour ago????? What reservation.
As I walked into the restaurant I was hit by a wall of extreme heat. At the time I was glad we were eating outside.
I arrived sat down and there was food being delivered to the table. I then
found out it was a prix fixe dinner.
Food starting coming before we even had a chance to finish the previous plate. At the time I felt the food was alright. We had a drink, ate four or five courses had dessert and were in and out in 1 hour and ten minutes.
The whole time we were there the one waiter kept staring at us and I realized later, it was because we weren’t moving fast enough.
Our bill was delivered and the one friend hadn’t even finished eating.
We felt so rushed, we short changed the waiter on his tip.
It was only after we got up from the table and he asked a friend if the service was alright. We were so rushed she said it was fine. When he walked away shaking his head in disgust, we realized we hadn’t tipped accordingly.
Walking home dumbfounded we all were in agreement that we would never go back. They need to make up their minds if they take reservations or not. It’s by no stretch a fine dining restaurant, but, no air conditioning?
The wait staff is too interested in shoving food at you and getting you out.,
And expecting a great tip.
Service people have forgotten the acronym for TIP. To insure prompt service. Personality, courtesy, and making the patrons feel welcome and appreciated go along with that.
We found it overpriced for the value and the lack of ambiance.
We did go back and top up the tip button our walk home regretted not going to the owner and tell him how we felt.
The tip we got was, don’t go back. Then I was sick all night from the food.
Not a great experience.
I decided to try this one as well and the trout was not cooked as the waitress said it was or was but not cooked enough for me as it was soggy. I also had chips which you couldn’t tell for all the salt and seasoning but I was hungry and as the trout sandwich was not edible for me I stopped eating. I was a little ill from it and after paying for my half eaten food then pushed out the door with a box of leftovers I didn’t want promptly chucked in the bin outside the restaurant. As I had risked enough being ill from the bread and the fish tasting a bit raw and I agree there was no AC at all and I too was miserable eating in the heat like that is not normal. I won’t go back either as the whole experience left me not wanting more.
What am experience!! I got together with a bunch of old buddies from 40 years ago. One was coming into town from Thunder Bay. We all met up around 7 , we didn’t have reservations but we were will to wait an hour for a table. So we went up the street to another place to just have some drinks and catch up , while watching everyone the eat. About an hour goes by we head over and ask if our table was ready .. The answer was .. Listen to this we don’t have your name down and we are only taking reservation..at that moment I felt like saying the same line al Pacino said in a scent of a women ” I throw a flame thrower to this place” my friend from Thunder Bay went back inside and within 3 minutes we had a table .. Did I forget to mention there were 5 tables available at this time .. After order and eating I didn’t feel well something was not right.. As it seems with 2 hours I was visiting the stall and 12 hours later I’m still on the thrown wasting time writing this and probably have a round around my butt .. I been to many rib places especially in Montreal .. This place won’t see another me or my friends there again.. You
Be the judge.
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