Alex Rad’s BBQ emporium and craft cocktail haven “Smoque N’ Bones” on Queen Street West blows away all his Toronto competition.
For those who know and have read me know that in the past I was a huge BBQ gourmand. More accurately, a BBQ glutton. A raunchy pork rib porker. A pulled pork pundit. And a crazed beef brisket banshee.
I used to stalk the Stockyards on St. Clair and constantly blacken the door of the Black Camel near the Rosedale subway. Sometimes I would travel way across town to deepest, darkest Parkdale, grow some facial hair and don a hoodie for Electric Mud BBQ, all for its crispy, juicy pulled pork sandwiches.
Most recently, due to doctor’s orders, I’ve gone veggie lite.
Recently I have fallen off the pork/rib chuck wagon, having fallen in love with a very rad “Smoque N’ Bones”.
Truth be told, I have gone several times to “Smoques” and every time, it was better than the last visit.
I have tried most of the delicious meats and sides. My favourite is the sampler. A choice of three meats and three sides.
I love the pork ribs. Smoky, tender, succulent and juicy. More slow bite, savour and chew, than fall off the bone.
No question, Alex Rad’s southern smoker delivers the goods. The awesome ribs are served naked, just the way I like them as does most rib aficionados. I hate them pre-slathered and over-slathered with unnecessary BBQ sauce. Smoques supplies you with your own glazing brush and extra BBQ sauce so that you can apply its house-made sauce as you like it.
Pulled pork is hard to pull off, but chef Alex does it with great aplomb. Roasted daily for about 14 hours, the pulled pork, sans bun, is moist, soft, flavourful and the tangy, smoky sauce complements without obscuring its zesty taste.
The beef brisket is not like my dear old mom used to make – thanks goodness! In this case, the brisket is insanely moist and surprisingly scrumptious. It is must be chef Alex’s secret smoking and sauce. Also, the extra subtle layers of fat jumpstart its juiciness.
Smoque’s sides are a misnomer. Supporting actors, they are not. They can easily stand on their own, as full meals in themselves.
Feeling guilty about my non-veggie binging, I naturally gravitated to the crisp collard greens, candied yams and caramelized onions and brussel sprouts. They were all excellent. And seemingly healthy.
Unfortunately, that diet-conscious ship sailed a long time ago. On subsequent trips to Smoques, I macked out on the creamy mac and cheese and then dove head first into the devilishly delicious buttermilk onion rings and obscenely fine waffle sweet potato fries.
Aren’t sweet potato fries supposed to be healthier than your run of the mill greasy French fries?
But by my third visit to Smoques, who gives a flying fry? I was mainlining those earthy subtle sweet potato fries, fried to a perfect crisp, dipped in chipotle mayo, directly into my thickening thighs. Oh well.
Don’t get me started on the addictive pecan pie with Bourbon Crème Anglaise!
Chef Alex had to cut me off at two servings of that Bourbon-infused pecan pie or I would have been pecan pie impaired.
But man cannot live on Smoque’s bread pudding alone (with intoxicating Bourbon sauce).
True, the food is the thing, but what drives me back on a regular basis to Smoques, is the people and the service.
Chef/owner Alex, a former Bay Street financier, is the heart, soul and driving force of Smoque N’ Bones.
But he has also surrounded himself with a tremendous group.
The beautiful and extremely competent Lexa, is Alex’s “go to” person. She has worked closely with Alex from the outset and has helped him define and implement his vision for Smoques. Also I understand Lexa assisted Alex in renovating the second floor into a really cool, open bricked, original barn wood floor, smoky, retro “old school” cocktail bar.
Lexa also prepares, slices, dices and serves the meaty entrees with skill and experience way beyond his years.
There is also the lovely and warm Vanessa, who works the front and ensures that every patron is always satisfied.
Vanessa also on occasion mans the upstairs cocktail lounge. She is a true artist and cocktail craftsman.
I am not normally a bourbon, vermouth or gin drinker but Vanessa’s Marakesh and Wild Rose crafted cocktails went down oh-so-smoothly.
In big, bad and often personally cold Toronto, Smoques is truly a place where they always know your name and treat you like family. Actually, better than family.
I guarantee you will first go for the food, but you will keep coming back because it is like a second home, for us urban dwellers who are constantly searching for a place with great food and a staff who genuinely enjoys your company and can’t do enough for you.
In short, this is a great Smoque N’ place!!!