Sunday, June 12, 2011

Friday Lunch from Barque

Despite its location way north of the Mason-Dixon Line, Toronto just cannot stop its desire to be abarbecue capital .  One of the newest entries in the drive to create a barbecue restaurant on every block in the city, Barque, on Roncesvalles, is also one of the most subtle barbecue joints.

After a few too many soggy fries and smushed rolls, in theory, we think we should be seeking our lunches a little closer to home.In practice, we just cannot resist the call of whatever is new, no matter where it is.  Hence, Designated Courier is off on another subway/streetcar ride. And yes, the fries suffered...again. However, his quarry, a Barque brisket sandwich and a smoked trout sandwich, were well worth the miles travelled.

Smoked Trout Sandwich with Avocado, Olives and Arugula

The trout is barely smoked so that the flavour of the fish rather than of the smoke is foremost while the flesh maintains a rosy hue.  The tomato, arugula, olive and avocado are perfect accompaniments  , enhancing the flavour while also providing colour contrast.

Smoked Brisket Sandwich with Crispy Fried Onions and Pickled Red Cabbage

If your barbecue pleasure resides in gooey sauces and crunchy charred bits, this brisket sandwich is not for you.Again the smokiness is barely there. The meat is paired with  lightly dressed red cabbage for crunch.

The buns Barque uses for its sandwiches are excellent. With a chewy crust, they have enough body to contain their fillings--and to travel well.  Also, there is no breaking of teeth on an over baked crust!

French Fries and Coconut-Corn Soup (Bacon not visible)
Arugula and Shaved Fennel Salad, Orange Segments, Citrus Vinaigrette

The sides are as good as the sandwiches.  The coconut corn soup should not be missed.  A green-flecked sweet and suave puree, it will yield up the surprise of bacon in the last spoonful.  A salad of shaved fennel and orange is a refreshing companion to the sandwiches.  Although Older Eater is usually not fond of fennel, here the anisey flavor is not so apparent.  A little sprinkle of Maldon salt for added texture would have made a good thing even better. Two small samples of barbecue sauce also come with the sandwiches.  One is a typical dark and smokey rendition while the lighter hued sauce is a spicy mustard version.

Whoever worked out  the menu at Barque either has an inherently fine palate or is extremely thoughtful about pairing ingredients. Each element on the plate worked with the others to create a harmonious whole.  Not only is this rare in barbecue restaurants, it is seen less frequently in fine dining establishments than one expect.  So Barque, long may you run.

Price: Two sandwiches, salad and fries(bonus soup) cost $27.17

Location:  299 Roncesvalles

 Phone: (416) 532-7700

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