barbecue smoker from Tenessee — he points out that he’s also been thinking a lot about wood.

">

Will Barque have bite? A new smokehouse opens up in Toronto's west end


Published:

Dave Neinstein has been spending much of his waking hours thinking about brines, marinades, rubs and barbecue. Standing next to his new restaurant’s piece-de-resistance — a rotisserie-style, 500-pound capacity, wood-burning behemoth of a barbecue smoker from Tenessee — he points out that he’s also been thinking a lot about wood.

“The wood is just as important as any other ingredient,” he says. “It’s like a rub. I don’t use mesquite or hickory — they’re too strong.” Instead, he prefers applewood or cherry for smoking red meats; sugar maple or pecan for pork and chicken; alder for seafood.

Neinstein is the chef at Barque Smokehouse, a new barbecue spot set to officially open tonight in the former digs of Bistro 299. He co-owns the place with his long-time friend Jon Persofsky, and the opening is a dream come true for the novice restaurateurs. They were previously making rounds in the corporate world before quitting their jobs and joining the culinary world.

It’s a big step, no doubt, but this is the age of DIY, where two ex-suits can find their bearings with a little bit of research. Or in this case, lots of research. Persofsky looked into the business side of things, learning about restaurant management at George Brown College, while Neinstein, who had worked side-jobs at restaurants before, headed south to learn about barbecue.

There, he spent three months in Oklahoma’s Ponca City, at the venerable Head Country Barbecue, cutting meat, working with rubs and loading the smoker (he was paid in food). Following that, he spent another three months on the road, eating at over 100 restaurants (“I got fat,” he jokes), getting certified as a competitive barbecue judge and, of course, asking lots of barbecue-related questions.

Neinstein wants to eschew barbecue’s stigma as unhealthy, over-indulgent fare and seeks to present Barque as refined barbecue. Rubs, marinades and sauces are all made in-house (they’ll soon be available for sale), and sides include lighter options like pickles, salads or smoked asparagus. The wine list focuses on vintages; the beer list focuses on McCauslan Brewing.

As mains, options include baby back ribs ($16 for a half rack); one version is rubbed, smoked for four hours and then finished with a glaze. Also available is chicken ($18 for a half), or, put together a custom dish with a-la-carte options ($6 each) like chicken thighs, beef ribs or Neinstein’s personal favourite, beef brisket (Ontario Angus beef injected with a secret concoction, rubbed and then smoked for 12 hours). Come May, lunch will offer the possibility of brisket or pulled pork sandwiches, while brunch could offer poached eggs topped with pulled pork and barbecue Hollandaise.

Heavy on the reclaimed wood, this is a joint worthy of Ossington or Dundas West (The Design Agency took care of decor). And, if Toronto’s recent penchant for all things carnivorous is any sign, Barque could very well put a much-needed spring back into Roncesvalles’ step.

Barque Smokehouse, 299 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-532-7700

Edit Module

Join the conversation and have your say by commenting below. Our comment system uses a Facebook plugin. Please note that you'll have to turn off some ad-blockers in order to see the comments.

Edit Module

Follow us on Twitter @PostCity for more on what to eat, where to shop and what to do in Toronto.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

You may also like...

In Season and on the Menu: Rhubarb lands on menus including Toronto's Soho House

In Season and on the Menu: Rhubarb lands on menus including Toronto's Soho House

This week, I talked to Soho House Toronto’s pastry chef, Kristen Pettit, all about rhubarb. It’s her favourite season.
Posted 2 days ago
Coal-fired pizza is coming to Toronto

Coal-fired pizza is coming to Toronto

Angelo’s Coal Fired Pizza, an import from Quincy, MA, is set to open on Front Street this June.
Posted 4 days ago
Lunch Pick: The Chase Fish & Oyster’s new seafood brunch

Lunch Pick: The Chase Fish & Oyster’s new seafood brunch

The Chase Fish and Oyster is doing brunch. Now that the weather has finally shaped up, the ideal prelude to a day at the water’s edge is a meal replete with the fruits of the sea.
Posted 5 days ago
Amsterdam expands the house that Boneshaker built

Amsterdam expands the house that Boneshaker built

They opened a larger production facility in Leaside and in 2013 added the sprawling BrewHouse on Queen’s Quay. This spring they completed a significant expansion to the Leaside facility, so I caught up with McOustra to talk about what this means for one of Toronto’s most important craft breweries.
Posted 1 week ago
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleEdit Module