Toronto FC kicks off the season with a new menu at BMO Field and a home win. We sample the former
Toronto FC’s first home game of the season took place last Saturday against the Portland Timbers (Toronto won 2-0), but fans of the city’s Major League Soccer team have a different reason to cheer at BMO Field: a greater variety of food. The venue already has a reputation for serving some of the better concession choices in North America, but Robert Bartley, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment’s culinary director and executive chef at BMO Field and the ACC, is adding 11 more options. The new items draw mainly from the ever-popular southern barbecue card, supplementing current selections like chip butty, scotch egg, souvlaki and a Montreal-style smoked meat sandwich. Bartley told us that the food underwent a rigorous development process that included a 40-member focus group and multiple one-handed eating-while-walking trials. We sample some of the new additions after the jump.
What is it? 3 ounces of pulled pork, 2 ounces of brisket and 2 ounces of peameal bacon stacked within a soft bun.
It’s special because… the protein-centric sandwich is the ideal companion to the copious amounts of beer consumed per game.
Taste: Each meaty layer plays a supportive role in this artery clogger. The smoky and porky flavours strike a harmonious chord, while the soft yet chewy-firm textures of the meat and bun keep the mouth interested.
Mess-making factor: 2/10.
Barbecue Beef Brisket Sandwich
What is it? Beef brisket and Carolina coleslaw (cabbage, green onions and apple cider vinaigrette) sandwiched in a soft bun.
It’s special because… the brisket is cooked for 14 hours and made using a traditional southern method: four hours of brining, one hour in a marinade with Real Sports Bar and Grill chef Tony Glitz’s secret rub, and two hours of dry smoking over wood.
Taste: Good smoke flavour, although the brisket is a touch on the salty side. Nice textures from the soft bun and tangy, crunchy coleslaw, which cuts through the medium-fatty cut of beef.
Mess-making factor: 4/10, especially if you’re left tugging at the gristly fat.
Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich
What is it? A soft bun stacked with pulled pork, sweet barbecue sauce and Carolina coleslaw.
It’s special because… the Ontario pork is smoked at the ACC for 18 hours and needs no condiments other than the coleslaw. There’s also a barbecue pulled pork burger ($9.95), which includes a 6-ounce beef patty.
Taste: Mild, moist, tender and saucy. Crunchy slaw adds a good textural contrast to the soft sandwich.
Mess-making factor: 3/10; it’s not the rillette-like pulled pork that will make a mess, but the finely shredded tumble of coleslaw.
Tuscan Porchetta Sandwich
What is it? Thick slices of slow-roasted pork shoulder, grainy mustard and sautéed onions, piled into a soft roll.
It’s special because… it’s the latest obsession in Toronto. The 12-hour brined pork shoulder is roasted for four hours at 250°C.
Taste: The chunky, meaty and moist porchetta may be neutral in flavour, but it’s elevated by a fine slather of grainy mustard, herbs and onions.
Mess-making factor: 8/10; the Dixie paper tray saves the day for us.
Smokehouse Chili Foot-Long
What is it? A foot-long hot dog, soft roll, beef chili, cheddar cheese and sour cream.
It’s special because… it’s the Coney Island classic; plus, it’s huge. There’s also a foot-long with bacon and cheese only for a quarter less.
Taste: The combination is satisfying, with a good ratio of topping for dog and bun. The thick blanket of savoury chili and cheese, however, is a little greasy.
Mess-making factor: A surprising 3/10, unless you tip it over, at which point it’s an 11.
Smokehouse Chili Bowl
What is it? The stuff on top of the chili foot-long.
It’s special because… it’s an ACC kitchen favourite.
Taste: Thick and hearty. The mildly spiced chili is great on a chilly day.
Messiness Factor: 3/10; unlike most of the other options, two hands and some co-ordination are needed for this one.
Chicken and Black Bean Empanada
What is it? Pulled chicken, black beans, red rice and cheddar cheese in a fried pastry crust.
It’s special because… it’s new in the stands.
Taste: Neutral. Pack a crispy egg roll with a soft filling composed of inflated rice, shredded chicken and fully cooked, tomato-stewed beans and you’ve got the same thing. Sadly, it’s nothing to write home about.
Messiness Factor: 2/10 on the outer edges; 6/10 once you hit the pocket in the middle.