Dundas Street West is providing an array of interesting culinary options and the innovative restaurants just keep sprawling westward. Uncle Smoke Cookhouse, located on Dundas West south of Bloor Street, across from the Loblaws store, is offering some tempting smoked options that will have you abandoning your backyard barbecue attempts for tastier alternatives. Torontonicity was invited for a complimentary menu tasting.
The menu at Uncle Smoke Cookhouse is simple: ribs, wings, brisket, pulled pork, as well as some comfort food staples. Executive Chef Aidan Galligan, who hails from Toronto, but was raised in Missouri, previously worked under the helm of Daniel Boulud at The Four Seasons. Galligan was attracted to Uncle Smoke Cookhouse because he wanted to revert to the plain cooking of his Midwestern roots.
We were offered some Dry-Rubbed and Smoked Pork Spare Ribs to start. I confess: I’m not a huge fan of pork, but I did try the ribs to give them a quick assessment. For someone who is not super crazy about pork, I have to admit that these ribs were very tasty.
We decided to order The Barnyard Sampler Platter, $39.95, so that we could try many items on the menu. The platter includes Smoked Angus Beef Brisket, Barbecued Pork, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, 1/2 lb of chicken wings, cornbread with honey butter, sauces, Crispy Fries, Mac and Cheese, and Signature Slaw.
The Buttermilk Fried Chicken was crispy without being greasy while the chicken was moist. This was so much better than fast food fried chicken!
Whenever I hear about brisket, I always think of Howard’s mother’s brisket on The Big Bang Theory. It’s a running reference throughout the TV series how good Mrs. Wolowitz’s brisket is. Well, I understand the big to-do because Uncle Smoke Cookhouse presents a gorgeous brisket themselves. Made with Smoked Angus Beef, this brisket is tender and juicy. Although I could have doused the brisket in Uncle Smoke Cookhouse’s house-made barbecue sauce, I didn’t have to because the flavour was rich and the meat was so moist on its own.
The sides on the menu deserve their own praise: the Crispy Fries lived up to their name and were lightly spiced. For more heat, we dipped them in the accompanying poblano mayo. Delicious! The Mac & Cheese featured noodles in a silky old cheddar, parmesan and mozzarella sauce. Pure comfort! The Signature Slaw was fantastic: shredded cabbage, cucumber and radish in a slightly sweet cider dressing. A perfect cooling complement to the spicy barbecue meal.
My absolute favourite item on the platter was the delicious Dry-rubbed, Smoked and Fried Chicken Wings. Chicken wings are usually good, but these were spectacular. The crispy coating revealed juicy, fleshy wings that were succulent to taste. The dry rub was spicy without being overpowering. If there is one item on the menu that is a must order, that would definitely be the chicken wings.
When you enter Uncle Smoke Cookhouse, you’ll notice there are only a few tables with high-backed chairs. That’s because most customers place their orders to go. But Uncle Smoke Cookhouse is a larger operation than it appears: they have an extensive catering arm and will be catering events this summer including The Rogers Cup.
We wrapped up our meal with Gooey Butter Squares. Although they resemble lemon squares, we detected only an essence of lemon in these tasty morsels. They are much more loyal to traditional butter tarts, if not in appearance, definitely in taste.
I highly recommend the food at Uncle Smoke Cookhouse. You won’t find better barbecue in Toronto.
Uncle Smoke Cookhouse, 2285 Dundas Street West, Toronto, 416-901-3663