Barque Smokehouse is the brainchild of long-time friends Jonathan Persofsky and David Neinstein, whose passion for bbq and the hospitality industry led them away from their corporate careers to the wooded interior of Toronto's Urban Smokehouse. From the extensive wine list and artisan beers to the
seasonal fruits and vegetables delicately prepared to match the subtle smokiness of genuine pit barbeque, Barque Smokehouse presents an original approach to traditional barbeque. We pride ourselves on offering a refined dining experience with warm hospitality and friendly, attentive service in the heart of Roncesvalles Village since April 2011.
If you’ve eaten at Barque, you’ve seen the cartoons on the TV, crayons and colouring books, and even a Diaper Genie in the washroom. You’ve probably heard some high-pitched chatter coming from the little ones about the latest toys or wanting dessert before they finish their veggies.
We absolutely love it.
Recently, Barque was recognized as a family-friendly destination. We couldn’t be happier with that tip of the hat. To get a sense of why he wanted to create this experience, we spoke with co-owner David Neinstein about having the values of #familynight all week long.
Yeah, we felt there was a need for a restaurant in the neighbourhood for parents to take their kids – where families would be welcomed and fed well. It’s sometimes tough to find a restaurant that caters to the parents and the kids.
The initial design was for it to be table bread, but it’s also kid-friendly.
It was always our belief that Fridays and Sundays were meals that people had as a family. Growing up, Jon (Persofsky, co-owner) and I had the same experience in which Friday nights were dinners at home with the family, and Sundays were dinners out with the family. We wanted to continue that tradition in Roncesvalles knowing that there were lots of families in the neighbourhood. We wanted to be able to provide a venue for families to get together and have a family-oriented meal while at a restaurant. You have a set menu, so you all get the same thing. It’s on big platters like you would have at home. We get a lot of families who comes in when we open and we fill up with kids between 5 and 6 almost every Sunday. The underlying theme is that we want to be like a good Pixar movie. We want the kids and the parents to be fully entertained at the same time.
Absolutely. The neighbourhood is populated with schools, kids clubs, parks, sports leagues for kids. We’re sandwiched between half a dozen parks in addition to High Park, where kids are everywhere.
I think we’ve created a menu that all kids can pick their own favourites, while allowing parents to ensure they get a balanced meal. There’s always a green, there’s always a starch, there’s always a protein. And if the kids eat their meals, they get the dessert at the end. The kids get what they want and the parents get what they want.
Parents can get agitated when their kids get unruly at restaurants. They feel like they’re infringing on other people’s enjoyment and space. We’ve worked with our staff to guide the kids through the process of eating here without asking the parents to keep the kids in line. Our staff tend to give kids a distraction, give them colouring books, engage them in conversation to keep them interested so the parents have a window to enjoy themselves as well. If kids are messy and drop something on the ground, our staff casually pick it up so that their parents don’t feel awkward. It’s not a big deal if they make a little mess. We’re happy to have them as long as they’re having a good time. In a way, our staff can work as camp counsellors.
It was my father who cooked dinner for us – it’s where I learned to cook dinner. He would make roast chicken and turkey a lot of the time.
Yeah, we get comments every once and a while saying, “That’s awesome.”
No doubt, it’s Scooby-Doo. It appeals to everyone – the older generation and young kids who haven’t seen it before.
After this long, long winter, warmer temperatures are approaching (at some point), and that means a few things – patio season, cold beers and the soul-soothing smell of BBQ wafting through the neighbourhood.
Some of you may be BBQ beginners, while others may be aspiring pitmasters. We talk to co-owner and Executive Chef David Neinstein about what to consider before buying a grill versus a smoker.
Actually, there are two important questions to ask:
Also, you have to factor in cost. You can buy a great grill for a lot less than a great smoker.
|1. Smokers will produce more tender meat and veggies because you’re cooking low and slow (although some smokers can cook at higher temperatures).||1. Smokers are generally more expensive than a grill.|
|2. You’ll get those unique and distinct smoky flavours.||2. It’s not ideal to cook burgers or sear steaks or fish quickly.|
|3. They have better temperature control.||3. It’s more work and it’ll take more time.|
|1. They’re more economical – a good grill can cost around $400, but the equivalent smoker could go for $1,500.||1. If you’re cooking with indirect heat, you limit the surface area on the grill.|
|2. There are more models on the market.||2. It’s much more challenging to attain an accurate and steady cooking temperature.|
|3. With higher temperatures you’ll get food on the plate much faster.|
|4. They’re easier to clean.|
|5. You can mimic a smoker and cook with indirect heat.|
Classic BBQ meat: pork side and baby back ribs, baby back beef ribs, beef brisket, pork butt, whole chickens, chicken thighs, wings, trout and mackerel (thinner cuts of fish).
Pork chops, rib eye steaks, burgers and salmon (thicker cuts of fish).
I have a Traegar pellet wood electric smoker and a Broil King grill. In the restaurant, we use Southern Pride. In previous competitions, I’ve used Cookshack.
The Traegar Lil’ Tex I still use.
I’d probably recommend that people experiment on a backyard BBQ grill first before going to smoker. Get used to temperatures, try using indirect heat. If you feel you like the labour of love process and want those tender ribs and juicy brisket, move onto a smoker.