Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Smokin Tony's BBQ

471 Hespeler Road
Cambridge, Ontario


In her opinion:
I was itching for fried chicken...not knowing exactly where to get amazing fried chicken in our town without going to a chain restaurant (as my foodie friends know...I have a soft spot for Popeye's Fried Chicken)...we opted for BBQ instead.

I had heard some mixed reviews about Smokin Tony's Bar-B-Que. But I truly believe that taste is subjective and therefore we needed to try it for ourselves. Smokin Tony's is conveniently located on Hespeler Road. It is a large space with an interesting cafeteria style approach.

We walked in to Smokin Tony's and were greeted by a friendly server who also explained their ordering concept. We were told to sit where we pleased. We found a cozy booth and studied the menu.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed that they didn't have a fried chicken dish (a lot of bbq spots will have that as an option) but I decided to get over it quickly. After studying the menu, we decided that we would get the "Family Platter - Dinner  for 4" even though there was only two of us (it means we get two meals for the price of one)!

"The Family Platter - Dinner for 4" allowed us to pick 4 meats, 4 sides and 4 buns. This was awesome. We decided to pick pulled pork, beef brisket, wings (1 lb.) and ribs (1/2 rack) for our meat selections. We picked sweet potato casserole, onion rings, baked beans and macaroni salad for our side dishes. We opted for 4 pieces of corn bread instead of buns.

Let me begin by saying I was shocked at the amount of food that we received. There was definitely plenty for two meals. I really enjoyed the chicken wings. They had a nice smokiness to them. I had asked for the honey bbq sauce which complimented the smokiness of the wings perfectly. The pulled work was also excellent. I found the ribs really nice as well, they were quite meaty! My least favourite of the meat dishes which was a little surprising for me since I haven't ever found a brisket that I didn't like!

As for the side dishes. Well, the onion rings were great...huge and not too greasy. The macaroni salad was okay...it needed a punch of flavour. The beans were awesome...nice flavour with a little porkiness add for punch! But the best side in my opinion was the sweet potato casserole...just great with the nuts on top...so so good...reminded me of the sweet potato casserole that I've made in the past! Really really nice selection of sides and overall, great tasting.

The cornbread was okay...definitely not the best that I have ever had. I found it a little dry and lacking in the sweetness that I love in a good cornbread. But slathered in butter it was fine.

Overall, Smokin Tony's Bar-B-Que was great. I really enjoyed the wings, pulled pork, ribs and sweet potato casserole and wouldn't hesitate to go back and have it again.

In his opinion:
What happens when you picked a restaurant to kill your craving for fried chicken just to find out they don't have any? Well...you make do with some other "meaty" goodness...I guess. That was the third strike for me and I had not even eaten there yet. The first strike was that it's a franchise, its second was that it had horribly mixed reviews (mostly for its Waterloo location) and then no fried chicken? Really?

Since I was already there, I decided to take the plunge and find out what the talk or bad talk was all about and I'll start by saying I was pleasantly surprised. The food didn't "suck" for lack of a more technical term and it was actually....good! Rewind a few minutes back to the time we didn't see fried chicken on the menu and all seemed lost.  I'm glad that we didn't give up on them and things started to look up right after that.

On to the food...we ordered the family platter so we could have a lot more choice and get a real good sense for the barbequeness....is that even a word? Anyway, the Coles Notes is that we ordered food for 4 when there was only 2 of us.

The family platter for four gives you the option of 4 meats, 4 sides and 4 buns or slices of corn bread. That's a lot of food and I was either rolling out of the restaurant or I was going to not have to worry about my next meal. Ended up being the latter.

Our picks - meats
1 lbs of wings- Crispy, meaty and with a good medium sauce on them, not quite Buffalo style but a good clone I suppose.
pulled pork- Top choice for me, juicy, well prepared and seasoned. The type of dish that you could have all day and not get sick of it. 
1/2 rack of ribs- Again a good choice, smoked, tender with great texture and flavour. Rival some of the best "rib places" of choice in the area.
beef brisket- Unfortunately, this is where the disappointment comes in. It was dry and lacking in flavour and even the sauce on the outer rim of the slices couldn't help it much.

Our picks - sides
sweet potato casserole - great side dish, full of flavour and with the right texture, went well with the pulled pork.
onion rings - mix of small and colossal rings, crispy, tasty and good flavour.
baked beans - I don't normally enjoy baked beans but these were the exception. Really good.
macaroni salad - another slightly disappointing dish, almost no impact in flavour. Definitely needed a punch of something!

We also picked corn bread and it was just ok, nothing to brag about.

The Good: The balance is positive, some very good dishes and only a couple so-so. Great attentive service and I enjoyed the cafeteria style serving.
The Bad: Hard to take a BBQ place that cannot make good brisket. I would love to think that it was just a bad day but I think it's not a one off.
The Verdict: I recommend this place because it deserves you checking it out for yourself. Try lots of dishes and nothing will be actually bad. You will just like some dishes more than others.

I give it 3 out of 5 Olives as rating

Smokin Tony's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon


  1. Hello!

    Regarding your comment with wanting fried chicken; I'm the same and can never find it anywhere in the KW region aside from your local food chains. It's super disappointing to not be able to find any other places that serve one of the most delicious foods out there.

    But on a deal site a while back, they had a deal for a fried chicken place in Cambridge. I've yet to try it because even though Kitchener and Cambridge are close, it's not close enough to bring home hot crispy chicken. I don't think the place is eat-in, only take out. Would love to see you guys try it out and give it a review, so I know if it's worth the drive to try it out!

    Here's the site for the place: http://www.crispyschicken.net/

    Oh! Also, the Lancaster Smokehouse now has a fried chicken plate with 3 pieces instead of the breast (I believe) they just had before. I've yet to try their fried chicken, but now that it comes in pieces, I'm definitely going to give it a go soon. Would be nice to find great fried chicken that is so close-by.

    Hope you try out that other place, soon! I'll keep checking back :)

    Keep up the great reviews!

  2. Hi,
    Thanks for the feedback! We have recently tried the fried chicken at Lancaster Smokehouse...we got the Chicken and Waffles instead of the General's Fried Chicken which is smoked then fried. We both had it since we weren't blogging about it and it was fabulous...really juicy, crispy and delicious! The waffles were good too! We haven't tried this place you are talking about but will keep it in mind. Thanks for the heads up...we like when our readers give us little tips!