299 Roncesvalles Avenue
In her opinion:
There are so many amazing places all over Toronto for brunch. But, for us it came down to two...the County General and Barque Smokehouse. After an imaginary coin toss, we decided that we would try Barque in Roncesvalles Village. And I'm so glad we did!
Roncesvalles Village is an up and coming area. It has developed so much in the last little while with new restaurants springing up all over the place. Roncevalles Village is also known for it's large Polish community and this is reflected in the deli's, bakeries and restaurants in this area. However, regardless of all these great Polish offerings, barbeque was the choice for this Sunday.
Barque opened in April, 2011. So it is fairly new to the village. But already there is a lot of buzz about this place and as a result, you have line ups waiting for Sunday Brunch. Toronto Life declared it the 6th best new restaurant in 2012. Joanne Kates of the Globe and Mail declared it "The Best Barbeque in the West". Chef owner David Neinstein has a gold mine here. And I couldn't wait to see what all the fuss was about.
We found free parking on the street, a first for us in Toronto and walked the half block to Barque. When we arrived, we saw people waiting outside on the picnic tables. We walked in and gave our name. The hostess informed us that if the three of us (Edgar, little man and myself) were willing to squeeze into a table for 2, she could seat us in about 10 minutes. We agreed of course. The place as packed and the wait would be much longer for a table for 3. Luckily there is a banquette across the wall so that made the seating not to much of an issue.
We were offered complimentary still or sparkling water. Nice touch! I ordered a cocktail - a Fraise to start. This is house made strawberry syrup and proscecco.
This cocktail was absolutely delicious and refreshing. The strawberry syrup was not too sweet and gave the right amount of strawberry flavour without overpowering the proscecco.
The brunch menu is not extensive but there is enough choice. I ordered "the Barque Benedict". This consists of cornbread, two poached eggs, smoked brisket and bbq hollandaise. This came with a side arugala salad and Barque potatoes. There was also a very small fruit cup on the side.
The Barque Benedict was so so good. I enjoyed the cornbread since it provided a little sweetness to the dish. The smoked brisket was outstanding. The eggs were perfectly poached and the bbq hollandaise rounded out the whole plate nicely. It was barbeque perfection! I really enjoyed the sides as well. I found the arugala salad absolutely delicious in its simplicity. Just arugala, shaved celery root and pieces of orange with a simple citrus dressing. The Barque potatoes are also very nice.
Our little man had the "Grilled Cheese with Fries" I tasted it and it was awesome. This was an exceptionally good grilled cheese sandwich.
Overall, I loved Barque's brunch. It is popular for a reason. I would like to go back and have dinner and experience their smokehouse specialities in the near future.
In his opinion:
Barque has been in our sites for brunch for a while, and after skipping it a few weeks ago for the amazing burgers at Burger's Priest. It was time to make up for it, and we took the plunge. First and foremost, free parking on the side streets? What? In T.O.? That in itself is already a reason to go visit this hot spot in Roncesvalles.
Always packed and bustling with energy, this place is a crowd favourite for eating inside or enjoying the patio. We waited around 15 minutes for a table and were shown to our seats by the hostess directly across from the bar. Cartoons were playing on the screen but oddly enough the bar crowd didn't seem to be paying attention, I wonder why?
After a quick glance on the somewhat limited brunch menu I opted for the "Hash Skillet". Barque potatoes, smoked brisket, onions, peppers, aged cheddar cheese and 2 sunny side up on top. The brisket was phenomenal, the combinations lurking underneath the 2 eggs were in perfect sync. Potatoes cut into cubes, cubes of brisket and flavourful peppers made me forget the thinly sliced cooked onions that were there for flavour (I'm not keen on cooked onions btw). It was served with a side cup of fruit and an arugala salad, with very light dressing, parmesan cheese and citrus cubes, and it was delicious. I see a pattern of cubed food here, don't you?
It's a perfect place for hanging out with friends and enjoying great food. The vast majority of patrons were in groups and a few were celebrating some special events as well. I should add that they also have a lunch and dinner menu to go along with their long list of famous cocktails and a decent wine list.
Special mention for Sunday night "Family Menu" where they serve platters to share and the menu changes weekly. I have to try that one soon...
The Good: Great atmosphere, greatly flavoured food and good service/waitresses
The Bad: It is to expect that in busy times the food takes longer to reach us but I still found it a little more wait time than it should be.
The Verdict: A happening spot with great food and so many choices of menus and seating times. The amazing free parking in the side streets was a plus.
Good times all around and promises of a return very soon to try the other menus.
I give it a 3 1/2 olives out of 5