Introducing: Baju, Zane Caplansky’s laid-back barbecue joint at The Monarch Tavern
Name: Baju BBQ
Contact Info: 12 Clinton St., 416-531-5833
Neighbourhood: Little Italy
Owners: Zane Caplansky (best known for his eponymous deli and food truck) and The Monarch Tavern’s Michael Dorbyk
Chefs: Dan Green and Kyle Wyatt, the duo behind pop-up culinary collective Mise En Place
The Food: Baju ascribes to the “Meat and Three” philosophy, which holds that barbecue is best enjoyed along with a trio of equally filling side dishes. At Baju, pulled pork, sliced brisket, spicy Texas sausages and dry-rubbed ribs can be combined with heaping servings of beans, collard greens, cornbread or deep-fried mac ‘n’ cheese nuggets. It’s a simple, soul-infused menu that doesn’t try to rewrite the classics. Explains Caplansky, “This is driving down a country road in Kentucky and finding a great shack that makes ribs, where that’s all they do. We’re keeping it simple.”
The Drinks: Diners can pair their meals with one of the bar’s 16 craft beers on tap. Or make it a real trip down to Dixie by choosing from over 30 brands of bourbon.
The Place: Baju is located on the second floor of the historic Monarch Tavern, which first opened its doors in 1927. Not much has changed since then, though the former men’s social club now caters to a diverse group of barflies, students and darts aficionados. “There’s history soaked in the carpets,” says Caplanski. In other words, it’s the perfect location for a straightforward, unpretentious barbecue joint.