Introducing: Hardys, the second southern barbecue joint to grace St. Clair West
Back in May, we reported on an upcoming barbecue joint, Hardys: A Hogtown Brasserie (its name a riff on Toronto’s pig-farming past) that was setting up shop just a few blocks west of barbecue stalwart The Stockyards. On Friday, the restaurant had its grand opening and we stopped in to check it out.
Inside the restaurant, the front dining room features a large brick mantle with a faux stag’s head and floating shelves that hold books and other knick-knacks. Partway through the restaurant is the bar, fashioned with slender sanded tree trunks. The back has a hoedown feel, with barnboard walls, an alcove for live music (it was jazz on the night we visited) and centrepieces of wildflowers in antique bottles and jars.
On the meat-heavy menu are barbecue classics, made in the kitchen’s industrial smoker (apparently, Toronto Public Health thought a homemade 55-gallon oil drum wasn’t quite legit). The southern-style pulled-pork sandwich with sweet mustard barbecue sauce ($11) is braised for seven hours. The whisky-glazed smoked chicken (quarter chicken $11; half chicken $15), meanwhile, is brined twice for extra juiciness. There’s also a smoked burger ($10) that uses organic, grass-fed Belted Galloway beef and, of course, house-smoked ribs, served with jalapeño cornbread (quarter rack $12; half rack $18). For sides, there are crispy ale-battered onion rings ($6), jalapeño cornbread ($3) and house-smoked mac-and-cheese ($6) with aged white cheddar that’s been smoked for over 24 hours. For extra indulgence, it’s served with optional pork loin that’s been braised for seven hours, diced, then fried until caramelized ($3 extra).
The drink menu focuses on beers and hard liquor (eight brands of whisky) and less on wines and cocktails. The handful of Ontario craft beers on tap includes Nickle Brook’s Green Apple Pilsner ($7), Maple Porter ($6.50) and Belgian White Wheat ($6.50), as well as offerings from Spearhead, Muskoka, Flying Monkey and Steamwhistle.
The menu is a collaboration between owner John Hardy and French-trained chef Trevor Bedard, formerly a private caterer who has worked at Lucien and Globe Bistro and staged at Auberge du Pommier and O&B Café and Grill. With two southern barbecue joints now within shouting distance of each other, we fully expect to see billowing clouds of apple wood and hordes of hungry diners on St. Clair West.
Hardys: A Hogtown Brasserie, 992 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-901-4100, hardyshogtown.com.