First Look: Stack, a massive new smokehouse at Yonge and Lawrence
By Bianca Puorto and Jon Sufrin
Stack’s pulled pork sandwich comes with crispy onions on a sesame-seed bun (Image: Bianca Puorto)
North Toronto is smokin’ these days, both literally and figuratively. In recent months, the area around Yonge and Lawrence has seen a slew of new restaurant openings, including Riz, The Burger’s Priest and now a 4,000-square-foot smokehouse called Stack. It’s been busy since it opened.
“It’s week three and we’re finally getting some sleep,” says co-owner Bill Panos, who along with business partner Todd Savage opened Stack with a mission to serve quality food at decent prices.
The two-storey space has a sleek yet comfortable feel. The main floor’s deep room is lined with intimate booths and a houses a full bar. The open kitchen — home to executive chef Mario Edwards — features tiles of fire engine red.
Beside the kitchen sits the pièce de résistance: a 500-pound-capacity Southern Pride smoker. It’s the same type found at the ever-popular Barque Smokehouse on Roncesvalles.
“It’s from Tennessee,” Panos says, “the best you can buy.”
“Smokers have different levels of smoke that affect the taste of the meat,” he continues. “I’d say ours is perfect for Canadian tastes, which is medium. You don’t want your meat to taste of smoke — you want to taste the layers.”
Panos has been working in restaurant kitchens since the age of 10, but to prepare for the rigours of barbecuing, he went to Oklahoma and took a course with barbecue guru Ed “Fast Eddy” Maurin.
Savage, who acts as front of house manager, clocked 10 years at The Keg before signing on for this venture.
“Everything we have is made fresh,” Panos says, noting that he buys locally as much as possible. The beer menu showcases local breweries, while bread comes from Fred’s Bread and pork hails from Ontario’s Willow Grove Farm.
Baby back ribs ($16 for a half rack) are rubbed with paprika, white pepper, chili powder, fresh black pepper and other spices, then smoked with sugar maple and applewood for four hours before being flash grilled with house-made barbecue sauce. The goal is for ribs that aren’t fall-off-the-bone, but “pull-off-the-bone,” Panos says.
Beef brisket is done two ways: first as a cured, smoked, deli-style meat served on rye ($9), or Southern-style, with barbecue sauce layered on top, served on a sesame seed bun ($9). Both are smoked with oak and maple. Pulled pork, meanwhile, comes with crispy onions and barbecue sauce on a sesame seed bun ($9).
Stack is not just a one-trick pony, though. It offers a good selection of non-smoked items as well, such as fish tacos made with grilled catfish, guacamole, green onions, roasted corn, shredded lettuce and chipotle ranch dressing ($9). To finish off a meal, s’more doughnuts are made to order, topped with vanilla glaze, chocolate sauce, graham crackers and hand-torched marshmallows ($5).
As lunchtime rolls around, a steady stream of guests begins to invade the restaurant until the dining room is almost full. Not too bad for a place that’s only been open for three weeks.
As we’re about to leave, a customer compliments Panos on the new restaurant.
“We needed a place like this in this neighbourhood,” he says.
Stack, 3265 Yonge St., 647-346-1416