Mmmm, meat: the smell of it; the way that your salivary glands start to gush at the mere thought of it; the way a perfectly prepared piece detaches from the bone that bore it and envelopes your mouth with awesomeness as soon as it’s ingested. If I believed that I could end up in heaven, I’d picture clouds of moist pulled pork and beds of brisket, gates made of sausage links, and I’d slouch atop a T-bone throne. Sadly, I’ll never make it there. At least there are ideal smoking conditions in the here and now.
Aside from the pure pleasure that one can find in a pristine piece of meat, the varied character that can be brought out through different preparation techniques is astounding. Take the same cut of meat and grill it, roast it, or smoke it and you’ll get an entirely distinct flavour complexion. While trends in meat may rise and fall, the fact is that a good cut will always be in season; though, as of late, it’s the more unrefined cuts that are getting ample attention as a result of the meat smoking trend in Toronto.
No longer is it a requirement to have the most impeccable cuts of well-marbled steak (though I can assure you, no one I know or want to know would ever scoff at such an idea) and it’s evermore acceptable to feature presentations that err on the side of the at-home chef rather than a master of Le Cordon Bleu. This is because with the smokehouse trend we’ve brought back the importance of “roots cooking.” Pop a few pounds of rump into the smoker for several hours and you’ll turn a leathery piece of hog into a tender delicacy that you could cut with a teaspoon.
At establishments such as Electric Mud BBQ and Marky and Sparky’s Smokehouse you can forgo the effort that might come with creating a striking presentation for the knowledge that their attention to detail is exhausted through the hours upon hours of slow smoking their goods.
Small hunts like The Stockyards Smokehouse and Larder bring BBQ fiends from all across the city to St. Clair West to snag up their succulent smoked chicken and ribs that are only served on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. They start serving them at 5pm and you’re lucky if you can still sink your teeth into an animal part at 7pm.
Sports bars like Rally Sports Bar and Smokehouse are engrossing themselves in the aura of their slow cooked creations. Making quality smoked brisket, chicken wings, pork and even bacon, they’ve recognized that being serious about their Southern barbeque is equally as important as being serious about their sports. After all, is there a better accompaniment to a wobbly-pop and a whomping of your rival team than a man-sized serving of smoked meats?
Barque is another Toronto smokehouse that really helped to kickstart the craze within the city. Making nearly everything they serve with that old-fashioned pit style barbecue bravado, Barque will even invite you into their smoker with their live online webcam.
Cadillac Lounge, a mainstay on West Queen West, has hopped on the smoking trend, tapping Chef Michael Pataran to help launch a new backyard BBQ concept.
Even Greektown loves its smoky goodness. The Combine Eatery invested in a top-of-the-line smoker so they could pump out their now-famous ribs and brisket, as well as special features like double-smoked chicken.
Finally, an east end-tity that’s attempting to step up their smoking game: Aft Kitchen and Bar is trying to make some modern refinements to the comfort food creations they serve.
Of course, there are a bevy of other options around Hogtown to get your meat sweats on, however, no matter which smoke shop is your favourite (*and we’d be interested in knowing) as a meat-minded-man myself, I pray to the meat gods in the fiery depths of the nearest smoker in the hopes that the smokehouse trend in Toronto doesn’t become another one of this city’s fleeting food fads!