Imma chugga-chugga choo choo this classic cocktail, dude!

So, we’re hanging out at York Station, this cozy little bar on the second floor of the Royal York Hotel. This place is so small, and hidden around a corner, that most people don’t even know it’s there. But they’ve been serving up classic cocktails and cheap eats since the 70’s–and when I say they, I mean Alina, the bartender, who’s been pouring drinks for 40 years!!!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still slammed a couple Steamwhistles, but in a place like this, you want to get a classic, old-school drink, so I went all Don Draper and ordered an old fashioned, with bourbon:

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This drink was TheBomb.ca, bro! You’ve got a nice boozy kick from the bourbon, a couple dashes of bitters, a splash of club soda and a cherry on top! I’m pretty sure I could pound three of these and still deliver the winning pitch to Lucky Strike!

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Now, if you’re not just having a liquid lunch, they’ve got all sorts of homestyle deli sandwiches for just two bucks a pop. You’ve got roast beef, salami and cheese, thickly sliced chicken and smoked salmon, plus a few more not seen here. They definitely don’t short-change ya on the meat though, bro–and the pickle is free!

But hey, if you wanna stop by after work, you gotta get here early–they’re only open from 12 to 7, Mondays through Fridays. Then again, you can always hit up the Library Bar downstairs for a pint or seven of the home-brewed Apiary Ale, son!!!!!

This is northern style barbecue, bro!

Now, I thought I’d had every kind of barbecue I could find in this city, but have you ever had Scandinavian smoked meat, bro? Cuz that’s what’s on the menu at Karelia Kitchen, this funky, homestyle joint on Bloor Street, just a couple blocks west of Dufferin. Their Smokehouse Platter has got smoked salmon, it’s got smoked trout, pork loin, chicken and all kinds of pickled veggies—dude, I even ate some pickled pumpkin!

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(Pickled pumpkin FTW!)

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Now, when you’ve having Scandinavian BBQ, you can’t just wash it down with a Coors Light. This here is Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale, from Beau’s Brewing. So, this funky Danish brewmaster is hanging out with the Beau’s boys in Eastern Ontario, and they create this crazy, hoppy, fruity brew that’s goes perfect with smoked trout, son!

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Of course, even after polishing off a plateful of food from the fjords, you know I still had room for dessert! And at this place, that means a massive slice of Kvæfjordkake, the national cake of Norway. You’ve got all kinds of crazy flavours going on here, bro! They take a sponge cake, put some meringue on top, then dress it with almonds, and a side of fresh berries and vanilla cream. This will fix your Transilvanian Hunger, Fenriz!

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TEXAS STYLE BBQ SHOWDOWN: Franklin (Austin, TX) vs. Adamson (Toronto, ON)

Now, there’s no doot aboot it, Adamson Barbecue is my favourite BBQ joint in The Big Smoke. I’ve eaten every single kind of meat on the menu, and they’re all honky-tonk redonkadonk, son! I always used to say Adamson had the best beef brisket I’ve ever tried, but then I went down to Franklin Barbecue in Austin, and now I’m not so sure anymore. Their brisket is so outta bounds, people line up all around the block, bro!

So now, while the taste of sweet, sweet Texas brisket is still fresh in my memory, I had to hit up Adamson again so I could figure out which was the best BBQ joint I’ve ever been to in my lifetime. We’re looking at everything from the food, to the line, to the music on the stereo. So who’s got the most bodacious, beefalicious barbecue, bro? Let’s take a look at the tale of the tape!

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COMFORT FACTOR

Location: Adamson is sorta in the middle of nowhere. If you don’t live in South Leaside, and you don’t drive, it’s about a 30-minute bus ride from the closest subway station. Now, East 11th Street in Austin isn’t Sixth Street…but it is only five streets away.

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

Lineup: Adamson opens at 11. I got there just after 11, and waited in line for over an hour. Franklin also opens at 11. I got there just after 9, and waited in line for over five hours!

HUGE ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

Music: When you go to Franklin, you get proper Texas BBQ music–five hours of fiddle-driven classic country from the greats like Willie, Merle and Johnny. Now, the thing I always hated about Adamson’s was that they used to play really loud rap music when you were there. But today, we were greeted by tunes like “Wild Horses,” “Man in Black” and other country music classics. Sounds like somebody finally got the memo!

THIS ONE IS NOW A DRAW.

Seating: The seating at Adamson is mostly wooden chairs and picnic tables. The only picnic tables you’ll find at Franklin are outside–their indoor seating is a little more comfortable.

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

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FOOD

Beef brisket: Now, it turns out that Adamson actually uses the exact same brisket from the same cows as Franklin. As their pitmaster says, if they cook it right, it should be just as good as down south. And I gotta say, it’s really, really close. These were far and away the two best briskets I’ve ever had. Maybe the only way to truly compare them would be to eat them both at the exact same time. They’re both super-tender, juicy lucy, melt-in-your mouth… Of course, you gotta order it fatty. Fatty brisket was my nickname in high school, bro! So, whose brisket is better? I might just hafta give it to Franklin, by a nose. Cuz hey, I’m pretty sure anything tastes better after lining up five hours for it!

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

Pulled pork: The pulled pork at Franklin tastes how you expect pulled pork to be. Tender, succulent, and goes great with BBQ sauce. But at Adamson, their pulled pork has a nice, peppery taste so you don’t even need no sauce, bro!

ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

Sausage: At Franklin, it seems the sausage is sort of an afterthought. It’s like “Well, you’re all sold out of ribs ‘n turkey, so I guess I’ll get some sausage?” But at Adamson, you definitely want to add a jalapeno cheddar smokie to your order–even if you’re already getting a three-meat plate!

ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

Drinks: Franklin serves local Texas craft beer, and they’ll even sell it to you when you’re waiting in line, as long as you remain on the property. Adamson only has a soda fountain…but to their credit, you can get Big Red from it.

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

Dessert: Although I didn’t take it out of the package before taking that photo, the Lemon Chess pie at Franklin is pretty darn tasty. I’d say it’s fairly comparable to Adamson’s coconut cream pie, which you see above. But this one time at Adamson, I had this sweet potato pie that was shut-the-back-door bananas. So I gotta give the edge to Adamson.

ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

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Now, even after all that deliberation, I’m not sure there’s a clear winner here. The fact is, both of these places are really, really good. If you only visit one BBQ joint in Toronto, it’s gotta be Adamson. There are a couple other places I’d recommend, but only if you’re down for dinner. (Adamson, not unlike most BBQ joints in Texas, only serves food until they sell out–which is usually before 3 pm.)

On the other hand, if you’re ever in Austin, you’ll have to get up really, really early to eat at Franklin. I was one of the last ones through, and I didn’t eat until 2:30. Plus, they were sold out of pork ribs, beef ribs and turkey already. Clearly, I needed to be there before 8. Now, Franklin is a total tailgate experience, like a culinary Heavy Metal Parking Lot in Flavourtown. I think it’s worth checking out at least once–just don’t be like the brosephs who got so wastey-faced that they were kicked out once they got to the front of the line and didn’t even get any brisket!!!!!!!

This might be the best burger I ever ate at a country music concert

So, I’m at the ACC, to see my man The Chief, Eric Fuckin’ Church in concert, bro! Last summer, when he was supposed to play Kitchener, the gig got rained out, and I dived face first into a bacon cheeseburger. Looks like I’m about to do the same thing here…

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They call this the Maple Bacon Burger, and it’s got cheddar cheese, bacon and a maple aioli! As far as concession food goes, this is pretty decent. Burger is nice and thick, bacon is a little on the chewy side, nice crunch from the onions and tomatoes. Fries are super thin, and kinda taste like Swiss Chalet. Now that was a cold 17 dollars I never will get back, son…and that doesn’t even include the beer!

It’s like Triple B in a pie, bro!

So, I’m heading off to the bank to get some Icelandic koronas, when I spot this funky little Aussie-style pie shop in the food court. At Kanga, they’re serving up nine kinds of savoury pies—and they’ve even got sausage rolls, son! You could go around the world with a Traditional Aussie, a Kiwi Classic, or even a butter chicken pie, but it was the Canadian that caught my eye, for obvious reasons:

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OK, let’s break it down. You’ve got some frickin’ yuuuge pieces of steak, meaty chunks of bacon, braised with Amsterdam Downtown Brown beer, and a savoury gravy, all inside a warm, flakey crust. Dude, this is body by yuuuge pieces of steak, meaty chunks of bacon, Amsterdam Downtown Brown beer, and a savoury gravy inside a warm, flakey crust! Normally, when I get a meat pie at like Longo’s or something, I’m like, where’s the beef bro? Well, it’s right here. All of it. The only thing that could make this place more funkalicious is if they added a lamb pie. Can you say Dirty Deeds Done With Sheep?

Pizza: It’s not just for breakfast anymore!

So, we’re hanging out at 7 West Cafe, this funky neighbourhood joint on Charles Street, just offa Yonge. This place is open 24/7, 365 days a year, and they’ve been serving up classic comfort food for over 24 years—that’s older than some of my Motley Crue tour shirts, bro!

Now, when you’re open all day and all of the night, you know you’ve gotta do all-day breakfast. And while they’ve got the classics like a breakfast bagel, Denver omelette and two eggs any style, they also funk it up with this cross between omelette and crust…the breakfast pizza:

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OK, let’s break it down. You’ve got your ham, you’ve got your mushrooms, you’ve got a whole buncha cheese, and then there’s not one, but two sunny-side-up eggs in the middle. Shut the back door! There is so much stuff on here that it kinda weighs down the crust a bit, but when you get that perfect bite, it’s like breakfast, lunch and dinner—all rolled into one! It comes in personal pan and 10”, but you know I went with the big 10-incher…and I would still have room for dessert, but who eats dessert for breakfast, bro???

This might be the best BLT in Toronto…

Now, if I was to build a culinary empire around just one ingredient, it would hafta be bacon–cuz hey, it takes several great ingredients to make a burger, right? Now, I’ve already been to Bacon Nation a buncha times, but there’s this funky little joint on Ossignton where they don’t just put bacon in every dish, they build every dish around bacon!

That’s right, at Rashers, they’ve got no less than a dozen different bacon sammies to choose from. And while I kinda just wanted to drop 120 bucks and order one of everything, I figured I had to go with their take on a traditional diner classic: the BLT. But this ain’t just any old BLT, cuz it’s got house-made beer mayo, bro!!!

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OK, now let’s break it down. For starters, they put this thing on a warm ciabatta bun–there ain’t no dry white toast here, Elwood! The lettuce is fresh and crispy, you get a nice juiciness from the tomato, and I could probably pound a pint of that beer mayo, bro! But the star of the show has gotta be the bacon. Just look at how thick it is! And they cook it just right, so that it’s not too crispy, but not too chewy either. I’m trying to think of a time that I had a better bacon sandwich…but I’m drawing a blank. Hey, you know what they say: so much bacon, such little brain cells, broseph!!!!