June 13, 2011

Barque Smokehouse

There has been a lot of hype around Barque Smokehouse recently, and reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Having developed a slight obsession with BBQ ribs, I made a long journey to try this place out on a Friday. I could smell that wonderful barbeque scent half a block away. Upon arrival, I was told that the wait was going to be two and a half hours long. Because I was already starving at this point, I proceeded to a nearby Timothy's to eat a piece of cheesecake to tie me over.
About an hour and a half later, I got a call telling me that there were 2 seats available at the bar. As it turned out, these "bar" seats were actually set up at the counter where I presume people wait for take-out orders. Instead of facing the bar, we were staring right into the kitchen, which I wasn't very happy about. Had I known, I would've just waited longer for more decent seats.
A server swiftly brought us some popcorn to snack on while we studied the menu. Of course, they were BBQ flavoured and quite good. I tried to not eat too much of this to save more room for the actual mains.
We were also given two dipping sauces. I forgot the exact names of the two sauces, but I much prefer the one on the left (which was some sort of Kansas-style BBQ sauce).
Our meal came with three sides, and we got two Barque Caesar salads. The candied smoked bacon was nice, but I'd prefer the salad to have a little more dressing. It was on the drier side, but I suppose that made it considerably healthier (but who really cares about that when we're eating Southern-style food).
My other choice of side was the spinach and cheese ravioli. My problem with this side was the temperature, which wasn't hot enough despite its creative presentation in a skillet. In fact, the first ravioli that I tried was still cold in the center. Nevertheless, the sauce was very tasty and the dish could have been very successful had it been hotter.
For the barbeque sampler for two, we chose competition chicken thigh, half a rack of spicy baby back ribs and the brisket. I think Barque has done a very good job nailing the flavours, but the textures could be improved. The ribs were a little tough for my liking, and I've had more tender chicken thighs before. The part that I enjoyed the most was the fatty part of the brisket. I guess my preference for slow-cooked meat is to be melt-in-your-mouth, while others might want a good bite out of the meat. For me, it was far from the best ribs I've ever had. That said, the BBQ flavours were wonderful (although I couldn't detect much heat from the "spicy" baby back ribs).
In the end, I felt slightly underwhelmed by the meal. Because of all the hype, my expectations were really high, and unfortunately, there were just too many flaws for me to really love this place. The food didn't really blow my mind away, and given its far location (and long wait), I doubt I'll be returning anytime soon.
Barque Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

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