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Meat ‘n’ greet

Barque smokehouse on Roncesvalles


Barque is the hottest spot on the Roncy strip right now. Good luck getting a table on any given night. Luckily, there’s a great bar scene, but if you’re one of these more-than-two-in-a-group types, then make a reservation in advance. In fact, even if you want to sit at the bar, it’s better to have a reservation.

It’s a smokehouse, which means I hope you like meat with your meat. Better than St Louis in both atmosphere and menu but not as old-boys’ club nor as pricey as Morton’s.

I really like the bar, welcoming and atmospheric enough to both drink and eat at. The servers are friendly and interesting and very knowledgeable about the menu and pairings, though they lean more towards beer than wine. If you’re a non-drinker, they have a lot of oldie sodas like cherry cola and ginger beer, all served with buckets of spicy popcorn brought to your table with menus.

I usually just order from the appetizer menu because there’s enough variety there to create a meal, and the portions are really big all around: pulled pork nachos, smoked wings or duck tacos ($10 each). A pound of wings in spicy chipotle sauce and the winter beet salad ($10) with greens and goat cheese (maybe with shrimp, add $6) and I’m stuffed.

 Barque is the hottest spot on the Roncy strip right now.

If you really want to go to town, the sampler for two ($40) comes with enough food for three, easy. Choose three proteins (brisket, baby back ribs, two beef ribs, or two competition chicken thighs) and three sides (Cuban corn, squash gnocchi, Barque caesar, pickled platter, fries, steamed veggies, beet and brussels sprouts salad). I’d say the brisket and ribs work well with the delicious gnocchi, fries and the caesar (just for some greens). And two can easily share the sampler for one ($22). For those who don’t eat much meat, the cornmeal crusted halibut with sweet potato puree and smoked lemon vinaigrette ($24) is quite lovely.

With its cozy and rustic industrial décor, the atmosphere is great, although they keep the lights a little bright for my taste. Can’t wait for the summer patio.

BARQUE 299 Roncesvalles Ave. (416) 532-7700. barque.ca.