Sunday, 5 August 2012

A Visit to Barque Smokehouse (Toronto)

This evening we were invited to join some friends for dinner at Barque Smokehouse (at 299 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto, ON M6R 2M3). 

I was a little nervous about going out to a barbeque restaurant, because I have been watching what I eat and dining out can be a challenge to anyone's discipline.  As it turns out, I had nothing to fear. 

Tonight was "family night", where the restaurant prepares a set menu in two  seatings (one at 5pm and one at 8pm).  We attended the 8pm seating, and the menu was frankly not what I expected. 

I walked in to the restaurant thinking I would eat ribs, roast chicken, roast corn, potatoes, and variations on these classics.  Instead, tonight the menu included curried goat, oxtail ragout, tilapia ceviche, rice and beans, marinated red and green cabbage, and jerk pork in addition to the expected smoked chicken and baby back ribs. 

The appetizers consisted of the goat, oxtail and tilapia, in delightful small servings.  The tilapia was a mere mouthful, served on a ceramic spoon.  There were probably 4 or 5 bites of goat curry, served in a medium-small ramekin.  And the oxtail ragout filled the length of a plantain chip.  All three dishes were delicious and presented a fantastic, varied opening to the meal.  I was very pleasantly surprised, and could happily have had a full serving of both the goat curry and the oxtail ragout.

The next course was a mixed green salad that included what may have been strips of apple - - I've never been good at identifying fruits and vegetables, so my palate is not what one could call sophisticated.  All I know is that the salad was very pleasant, and a nice light interlude between two meat courses.

Finally came the main event - platters full of rice and beans, smoked chicken, jerk pork, and small portions of baby back ribs, along with small cast iron frying pans with marinated cabbage.  The jerk pork was spicy and delicious, but my favourite part of the meal was the ribs - - they were perfectly smoked and perfectly barbequed.  I could easily go back and have a full rack of those ribs, they were just that delicious. 

Dessert consisted of rum balls, which appear to have been delicious, judging by everyone's reactions.

I would very happily eat at Barque's again, and I am told that the restaurant has a very nice weekend brunch. 

As for my meal, I ate all of my appetizers (except for the plantain chip), and ate my fill of the salad.  I did not take any rice and beans, nor any of the rum balls, but I did not starve - - I picked my ribs clean and enjoyed both the jerk pork and the smoked chicken.  All in all, I was pleasantly full without being stuffed, which is something of a new feeling for me when leaving a restaurant.

All of this discipline was well timed because after dinner we had a 1.7 kilometer walk to our friends' house for after dinner drinks.  6 months ago I would not have been able to do this walk (or anything even close), but tonight I was able to easily manage it.  It was a perfect evening - just the right temperature with a slight breeze, and I enjoyed the walk with our friends.

What a lovely evening!

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