929 Queen Street East
In her opinion:
I heard about the Leslieville Pumps from BlogTO and from all the buzz on Urbanspoon! It's a very interesting concept...gas station, general store and awesome bbq kitchen. Similar to a country truck stop! Very cool! This is the brainchild of Judson and Greg Flom. Two brothers with a love of bbq that have a seriously good thing going.
The place was packed when we went in on Saturday afternoon. Not that there is a lot of seating at this place to begin with...four tables of four. So finding a seat can be a challenge. Basically, this is a eat and move on kind of place...don't plan on lingering!
You can tell that these brothers love bbq by their menu. It combines southern bbq and Canadian classics perfectly.
We ordered a Southern Style Beef Brisket Pump Sandwich, Corn Fritters and an order of Brisket Poutine. Our friends who were accompanying us on our foodie adventure ordered the Pulled Pork Poutine.
The brisket sandwich was excellent. The Pumps BBQ sauce was so so good. Full of flavour. The crispy sweet onions and grainy mustard were the perfect toppings. The poutine was very good. It was topped with the same excellent brisket that was in the sandwich. It was a huge portion that we were unable to finish. Our friends enjoyed their poutine very much but agreed that the Brisket Poutine was better then the Pulled Pork Poutine.
The star of the show was the Corn Fritters with a creamy Creole Sauce. These little pillows of corn goodness were so incredibly light and airy. I loved the garlicky flavour of the creole sauce. So so delicious. I loved them and honestly think I could eat them everyday for the rest of my life.
Overall, I enjoyed the Leslieville Pumps. I thought it was a very cool concept. The Flom brothers were super nice. They took the time to talk to us about their "kitchen" and you can see the love of food that these two possess. An interesting thing happened when we were having our lunch! Two of the members from The Pursuit of Happiness including lead singer Moe Berg came in to grab lunch! Now that was a flashback to the 80s and my childhood! We also learned from Judson that The Tragically Hip are also big fans of the place! This place is even more exceptional then I initially thought!
|Corn Fritters with Creole Sauce|
|Beef Brisket Poutine|
|Beef Brisket Pump Sandwich|
*****In his opinion:
When I was told that one of our foodie day stops was going to be at a gas station, I must admit that I was a bit taken back. I mean I'm open minded as much as anyone else about where good food comes from but "gas station"?
Then it came to me, Could this be the one I had read about in Toronto Life and had heard good things about? I'm glad it was and glad that Julie thought about it. Our friends that joined us for this adventure must have thought that we were crazy...first taking them to a Chicken and Donuts place and then to a gas station.
The rule is...trust a foodie and open your mind to "anything" and they did jumping head first into the deep end of the pool. That was good since we had no back up plan at all.
Leslieville Pumps is a revolutionary concept brought to Toronto by two brothers that believed that BBQ is the centre of the food world and that wanted Torontonians to experience something different. To most people, this would be an off the wall thing, not being able to grasp the BBQ joint/gas station and general store. Was Toronto ready for such a concept. Well, the gamble worked and Leslieville Pumps is enjoying lots of success and the buzz continues to grow.
We arrived at the gas station...I mean...restaurant...I mean convenience store, well, whichever one you want to use to describe it and all their seats were taken. We checked the menu, put in our order quickly and waited for the food and a table simultaneously. The decoration is part cottage, part western saloon with a hint of 50's diner memorabilia. It is very welcoming and looks like it could be up north in cottage country.
We ordered a few things to sample since we were a bit full from the last place of the food crawl. We ordered the Beef Brisket Pump Sandwich, the Corn Fritters with Creole sauce and the Beef Brisket Poutine.
Where do I start? First, if I lived in TO, I would make sure I would always need gas in Leslieville so I can fuel up as many times as I can and I might even only put $5 at a time, so I can return often. This BBQ is very tasty and decadent good. The corn fritters were so light and fluffy and the batter was also so soft. The dip is delicious and compliments it very well. This is a must have in this place, even if it's just as a side.
The Brisket Poutine was also very good. There were chunks of brisket, not your usual shaved type meat you would find in most traditional BBQ places. The fries were freshly cut and were well done. Did I mention that the fries were huge? The box of poutine is surely an item to share if you are having something else, that is.
The Beef Brisket Pump Sandwich was the highlight of the day. Juicy, moist and full of flavourful brisket, topped with sweet onions and mustard. Buns were super fresh and the whole sandwich was amazing.
We had a chance to talk to both of the owners and it is very evident that their love for BBQ and people "fuels" this idea and makes it so successful. Greg comes across as the overall brain of the project, showing his passion for the concept, the neighbourhood and the ingredients that they grow themselves on the premises to utilize in the "gas station" food.
Judson is extremely down to earth, a lover of BBQ and the "machine" behind the scenes and kitchen. The more you talk food with him, the more he engages you in the passion he has for what he does. I spent some time talking to Judson about the famous clients they have, the members of Pursuit of Happiness that we just brushed shoulders with and especially the members/manager of "The Hip", Judson's favourite band.
The Good: No non-sense BBQ, in a cottage like setting with a hint of retro. The food is great, the service is friendly and perfect to grab a quick bite, even when fuelling up.
The Bad: No bad to talk about. Not everyone will embrace this concept and that's a shame. Good food can come from anywhere and a gas station is not that far fetched, especially now.
The Verdict: A must go for lovers of BBQ and especially for those in a hurry. Get them to take and get them often, because the next BBQ serving gas station may not be for 2000 KM, in Oklahoma somewhere.
I give it 3 olives out of 5 as rating