Tag Archives: mac ‘n cheese

Beach Hill Smokehouse: A Texas-style BBQ joint…inside a Toronto housing co-op???

So, we’re hanging out at Beach Hill Smokehouse, this brand-new BBQ joint that just opened up in the east end. This place is a short walk from Main St Station, or an even shorter walk from the Danforth GO Station, in case you wanna come in from Oshawa or something. And you might wanna do that, if you love beef brisket, bro! Lemme tell ya, this might not be the best Texas-style BBQ joint I’ve been to, but it’s the most authentic Texas-style BBQ experience you’ll get in Toronto. All that’s missing is some good ol’ country music…

But when it comes to the menu, there’s very little they don’t have: beef brisket, turkey, pork ribs, chicken, beef ribs (only on Thursdays and Saturdays) and all the sides like beans, coleslaw, potato salad and mac ‘n cheese. They might be sold out of some stuff sometimes—but not by 2 p.m., like that other place in town. These guys keep on smokin’ throughout the day, which means they might not have ribs at 6:30, but they’ll have ‘em again at 7 (which explains why I didn’t get any ribs).

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Instead I went with the Lockhart, their take on a traditional Texas BBQ sandwich. You’ve got both sausage and brisket on a bun, with some pickles, onions and raw jalapenos from the condiment bar. There’s a nice, fresh bun here, packed with chewy, tender brisket and a nice juicy snap from the hot link.  Not too bad for 10 bucks! And then I added another hot link on the side, along with some mac ‘n cheese, cuz you never turn your back on mac ‘n cheese, Stampede Bro!!!

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Like I said, this is the real-deal Texas-style meal. The prices even reflect the fact that BBQ is meant to be working man’s food, which is what you’ll find down south. (And yeah, they’re at the bottom of the Main-Gerard Housing Co-Op, not in the middle of Queen St W or something.) We’re talking 7 bucks for a half chicken, 9 bucks for ribs, 11 bucks for brisket. All the food you see here plus a bottled water and a couple bucks for the tip jar, and I’m going home completely not-hungry for just 25 bones, bro!!!

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But yeah, like most good Texas BBQ joints, you’re gonna hafta wait in line. The food’s at the back counter, and the line goes right through the middle of the room, so at least you’re probably not waiting outside. At 6 p.m. on a Friday, that line was a good 35-40 minutes long…but that’s still nothing compared to when I went to Franklin BBQ down in Austin!

This real-deal Ottawa BBQ sure tastes better than a Grey Cup loss!

When the Stamps blow it in the big game for the second year in a row, you KNOW I’m diving face-first into a plate of barbecue, bro!!!! So, we’re hanging out at Meatings, this funky family-run joint on the east end of Ottawa. Dude, this place isn’t New Orleans, it’s in old Orleans, just a 109-yard fumble return from the Place D’Orléans. And they’re smoking their own brisket, pulled pork, chicken ‘n ribs, alongside a whole cheering section of scratch-made sides. Dude, there were more menu items at this place than Argos fans at TD Place!!!!

They may not be serving up a four-meat platter, but for 20 bucks, you get three meats, two sides and dessert–which sure beats giving up a 100-yard TD pass in the snow! 😦 😦 😦

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First up is this BBQ chicken leg. I’m pretty sure I could kick a game-winning field goal with this beauty! Chicken is nice ‘n moist, and it goes great with the caramel sauce that I was supposed to save for dessert. Still, that wasn’t the biggest mistake someone from Calgary made this weekend… 😦 😦 😦

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You know a place knows its BBQ when it asks if you want your brisket lean or fatty. This wasn’t the best brisket I’ve ever had–it was a little bit dry–but it still beats blowing a fourth-quarter lead to a team you beat twice in the regular season! 😦 😦 😦

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Now, these ribs were the star of the show. Nice ‘n smoky, with a good dry rub that had just a bit of a kick to ’em. And unlike another star, they don’t throw an interception in the end zone when all you need is a FG to tie it!!!! 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦

(Not that I’m still upset or anything…)

It’s a beef brisket mac ‘n cheese bodycheck, bro!!!!

So, we’re hanging out at Kelly’s Landing, this funky new upscale pub ‘n grub just a Bashin’ Bill Barilko slapshot away from the Scotiabank ACC. This place used to be a Casey’s, but they’ve kicked it up a notch in every way imaginable. They’ve even put in a big-screen so you can watch the game, if you don’t feel like showing up on time!

And the menu’s pretty classy too, with lobster fettuccine, sustainable salmon and some righteous greens (literally, it says “righteous greens” on the menu, bro!) But when I saw they were putting 14-hour smoked brisket on top of mac ‘n cheese, I knew where this dish was landing…straight down my piehole, bro!!!!

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OK, let’s break it downskis. The mac attack is baked, not fried, with an aged cheddar crust. The brisket is basically beef jerky texture, and then you’ve got a little green thing as a garnish. They don’t give you very much food for 11 bucks, though. It’s really just a light pre-game snack in Flavourtown, son!

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But you KNOW we ain’t done there, bro! This tasty trio of fish tacos comes piled high with a pineapple slaw that’s pretty slawsome. You’ve got some mixed greens, avocado mayo and cheddar cheese, with some smoked chili sauce on the side for an extra kick. It’s like a first-line powerplay goal in the Flavourtown Cup Playoffs, bro!

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And these ain’t no tiny little 10-dollar tacos either, Curtis Broseph! You almost need to keep both hands on the stick to throw this one roof-daddy! They might be a little too heavy on the slaw, though. I might wanna get that on the side next time…

Who knew they had barbecue on Bourbon Street?

Now, I don’t usually think Louisiana when I think BBQ—the only thing I’m throwing down on Bourbon Street is beer-battered beer, bro! So, when I heard about this new funky joint called Bourbon Street Smokehouse, just a drum-stick’s throw away from Long & McQuade at Bloor and Ossington, I was wondering what the heck they were smoking!

Turns out they’ve got a bit of stuff from all over the place—St. Louis ribs, Texas beef brisket and even some funkier choices like smoked candied salmon and corned beef. Actually, make that Mississippi Texas brisket. I didn’t even know that was a thing…

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Now, I’m pretty sure that Mississippi and Texas don’t actually share a border, but at Bourbon Street, they smoke this beef extra long until it’s got the texture of Mississippi pot roast, then serve it up Texas style without any sauce. Now, I normally like my brisket extra fatty—Fatty Brisket was my nickname on The World’s Biggest Loser—but this still kinda worked, even if it felt like I was eating pulled pork. Where’s that coleslaw when you need some, son?

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By why eat coleslaw when you can have super-smoky mac ‘n cheese? These noodles were massive, and tasted like they were cooked in the smoker…although I’m not sure how that would even work????

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Now, these St. Louis cut ribs came out without a whole lotta sauce, and maybe were a little dry without it, but then they gave us all sorts of sauces on the side—you had Memphis, you had Mississippi, you had Texas, you even had New Hampshire… Nah, just messin’ with Sasquatch, son! What would New Hampshire sauce even be—lobster bisque or something?

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Now, I don’t normally think of cornbread as a dessert, but this was almost more like a cake. It even had fruit baked right in! I don’t necessarily want fruit with my BBQ, but as long as you saved it for last, it was pretty darn-tootin’ tasty.

Smoked BBQ corned beef, bro!!!

So, we’re hanging out at Smoke Bourbon, this funky neighbourhood BBQ joint on a residential stretch of Harbord Street, just a couple blocks away from Bathurst. Now, when it comes to barbecue, this place has some of the best deals you’ll find all over this city! Last time I was here, I had a yuuuge slab of beef ribs and two sides for just 19 bucks. But this time, I paid even less than that…check out this hunka-hunka smokin’ meat!

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Now, it’s not every day you’ll see corned beef in a smokehouse, son! They take this Jewish deli classic and smoke it for 14 hours before slicing off two big portions for this 18-dollar dinner. The meat is nice and tender, falls apart on your fork, you’ve got some tang from the dill pickles and a nice crunchy slaw…but the mac is what makes it. This shit is macktastic, bro!!!!

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(Cuz apparently, I didn’t eat enough mac ‘n cheese last weekend or something…)

We’re mackin’ it up at the Mac ‘n Cheese Festival!

M to the A to the C to the K, heading straight down my piehole like back in the day! The Mac ‘n Cheese Festival returns to the rusted-out shell of Ontario Place this weekend, and you know we’re back in plaid, bro! Last year’s edition had some pretty righteous eats, and they might have had a smaller selection this time around…but what they lacked in quantity, they made up for in funkaliciousness!

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The righteous bros and bros-ettes at Thompson Diner were really hollerin’ bout this truffle mac ‘n cheese, so you know I had to check it out! This dish is super-duper-creamy–there was like a half-gallon of cream sauce left at the bottom of the carton! I wouldda drank it all up, too, ‘cept I didn’t have a straw…

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Now, when somebody’s giving away a free grilled cheese mac ‘n cheese sandwich, you know I’m there with flip-flops on! But so was a whole lotta other people, and they were only making these one at a time…so the wait was about 45 minutes. Still, I can’t really complain about free grilled cheese with mac ‘n cheese inside, though!

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Speaking of mac ‘n cheese inside another thing, this funky little Indian joint was serving up mac ‘n cheese samosas with butter chicken sauce–it’s like a festival of funk in Flavourtown!!!!

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One of the longest lineups on the premises was for Bobbie Sue’s, this homestyle mac ‘n cheese shop from Ossington Ave in the heart of Little Portland. This place’s noodles were legit, and then they funked it up by putting a lobster tail on top! Mine was a little undercooked, but you know I like my lobster like I like my steak–still mooing on the plate, bro!!!

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But the highlight of the night at this festival of funk had to be the beer-battered, deep-fried, bacon mac ‘n cheese balls from TCI College. Dude, this is body by beer-battered, deep-fried, bacon mac ‘n cheese balls! And these balls are even cheesier than a German heavy metal music video from the 80’s… You get yer balls to the wall, bro!!!!!

The food at Brewhaha ain’t no laughing matter!

So, we’re hanging out at Brewhaha, this cozy neighbourhood basement bar on Prince Arthur Ave, just a stone’s throw from St. George subway station. Basically, they took the downstairs of a Duke of York and made it a bit cozier, with a buncha local craft beers on tap…like this here 8th Sin Black Lager:

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This Hop City brew is halfway between a lager and a stout, with a chocolately, coffee taste, but a light, easy-drinking finish. It’s like when you’ve had Guinness for breakfast and lunch, and want something else for dinner…try an 8th Sin Black Lager!

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Now, this was the dish that brought me in the door—the Cheesy Weiny Mac ‘n Dreamy. You’ve got mac ‘n cheese, deep-fried weiners, and then some crispy onions on top, for that one serving of vegetables. The hot dogs are real hot, straight outta the fryer, but the mac is not super cheesy, and does not have much bite. Still, I’ve put worse things in my mouth for $7.99 before…

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Which brings us to the parmesan crusted grilled cheese. Could you tell from looking at it that there was parmesan in the crust? Me neither, even after tasting it. There’s also bacon in here, and some clumpy tomatoes…that kinda overpower everything else. And that’s without mentioning the bowl of lukewarm tomato sauce on the side! They also say this dish comes with ketchup chips, but these tasted more like plain or maybe BBQ to me…

Bottom line with this place is that the price might be right, but the food is wrong, bro!

What to do when you can’t decide between rotisserie chicken and fried chicken

So, we’re hanging out at The Chickery, this funky little chicken shack just baby steps from the Sick Kids Hospital. Now, this place has got both kinds of chicken: rotisserie and fried, and sometimes, you just can’t choose. That’s why they give it to you both ways with this delicious dish, The Chickery Sampler:

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OK, let’s break it down. What you’ve got here are two buttermilk chicken fingers, a chicken feather, mac ‘n cheese, kale caesar salad, buttermilk ranch sauce…and beneath all of that madness, a quarter-chicken white. That’s a whole lotta food, dude! Now, I know what you’re thinking–what the cluck is a chicken feather? It’s this thing, right here:

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Now, while the chicken fingers were plump and juicy, the feather is a whole different bird, bro. This chicken strip is super-thin and extra crispy, with a salty sprinkling of Parmesan. Still goes great with the buttermilk ranch sauce, though!

And I gotta say, the sides were pretty legit. The kale caesar salad was so crisp and tasty, you wouldn’t even know there was kale mixed in with the romaine. And hey, that’s the way I like to eat kale–blended in so well you don’t even know it’s there. The mac ‘n cheese had a nice crispy breadcrumb coating, but it couldn’t decide whether it was supposed to be a hot or a cold dish, and came out a little lukewarm. I think next time I might try a different side, like some cornbread or the smashed garlic potater

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But of course, we haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. This rotisserie chicken is like sweet dreams on Elm St. The bird was so moist and juicy, it’s making my mouth water just looking at the picture! And while the seasoning was similar to Swiss Chalet, they don’t usually serve ’em up this fresh, bro!

Man, this place is like the best of both worlds. It takes KFC and Swiss Chalet out back, slaughters em, and serves ’em up with a side caesar salad, son!!!!!!

TORONTO BEER WEEK: Sam Adams in da house!!!

So last night, I was hanging out at For the Love of Beer, this Sam Adams event at 99 Sudbury. Hey, I usually drink Sam Adams when the Jays are beating the Red Sox or the Seahawks are beating the Patriots, and I saw somewhere that they had an open bar, so let’s just say I got my 15-dollar cover charge’s worth within 15 minutes. 😉

Of course, it wouldn’t be a party without the hors d’oeuvres, so I certainly stocked up on snacks, son!

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I’m all about the bruschetta crostini with olive tapenade, bro!

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This chili-glazed shrimp with mango salsa was off the hook!

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They glazed this chicken in Sam Adams Boston Lager, then put a buncha pretzels and sour cream dip on top. What could possibly be wrong with that!?

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Why choose between chicken and shrimp when you can have both? Or be like me and have seven of each, son!

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Now, here in Toronto, the only Sam Adams you’ll find at The Beer Store is the Boston Lager, so I was pretty stoked to try a buncha different kinds. The Octoberfest was pretty solid, but this next beer blew my nose and then it blew my mind:

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They call it the Cinder Blonde Gratzer, and it’s pretty great-zer. It’s got a light, crisp taste, with all sorts of smokiness. I have never had a beer this smoky before–it’s like drinking firewood in liquid form, but with even more alcohol, bro!

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But the highlight of the night had to be the fish taco stand. Food Dudes was on the scene, serving up beer-battered pescado with guac, pickled cabbage, a little pico and sour cream. I musta slammed six of these, son!

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They also had a mac ‘n cheese stand, which was solid, but not mac-tacular. I only had three of these. Now, if they had brought some mac ‘n cheese balls instead, that woulda bin a whole ‘nother ball game…

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Yo, Mr. Sam Adams himself was in the building! This dude is so baller, he keeps one beer in his hand, and another one in his hip pocket. Homeboy was America’s first craft brewer back when Diamond Dave was still Hot for Teacher, and he’s still rockin’ the house, son!

Let’s just say, unlike most U.S. brews, Sam Adams is nowhere near water…

FRONT STREET FOODS: Shelling out for some mac ‘n cheese shells

So, you know I’m always down for mac ‘n cheese—even if it’s got kangaroo on top. So when I saw this funky little BBQ stand serving cheesy mac as a standalone dish, I figured I’d dive right in:

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OK, let’s break it down. We’ve got some creamy, cheesy shells with a mixture of cheddar, gruyere and parmesan, and a whole buncha breadcrumbs on top. The pasta’s cooked perfectly, the cheese sauce is delectable, and the crumbs add a nice crunch. Not bad for eight bucks, although I’m pretty sure I could eat seven of these. On the other hand, paying three dollars for a tiny bottle of water is a total ripoff, bro!