Mr. Cheeze and I have been hankerin’ for some barbeque for some months now – it’s been a difficult search in Toronto. We have been to Phil’s – disappointed both times. We did not bother to venture to CG&L given the reviews here, we have not been to Memphis BBQ on Yonge, nor to Camp 31 since we never seem to get out that way.
Anyway, we were out and about in the west end and Mississauga today, so we decided to give Sweet Smoke a try after Mr. Cheeze had done a Google search for BBQ in the west end of Toronto/Mississauga/Oakville. I had not searched for any reviews here prior to going, so I didn’t know what to expect. Mr. Cheeze and I used to live in New York, where we were spoiled with Virgil’s, Daisy-Mae’s, etc. I will state that we both typically prefer wet ribs and saucier sandwiches to dry.
Sweet Smoke is in a strip mall near Lakeshore and Bronte in Oakville – that made me somewhat dubious, but none the less we proceeded in our quest. We arrived to a very bright, full of sunlight restaurant with about 12-15 tables. We were greeted with a lovely aroma of smokey sweet flavours. We were very promptly seated and immediately offered menus and asked for a drink order. So far, so good.
There were two servers and we were one of 4 tables when we arrived. Mr. Cheeze and I perused through the menu which is available online at www.sweetsmoke.ca so I won’t get into too much detail about the menu here. By the time we left nearly two hours later, the place was full and was also doing a brisk take-out business.
After some deliberation about what each of us wanted to eat (and of course, what we were willing to share with each other!), Mr. Cheeze ordered a large pork ribs (wet) which came with sides of slaw and iron kettle beans ($24), while I ordered a pulled pork sandwich ($8) and a side of (what else!) mac and cheese ($4.50) since sandwiches don’t come with sides. We did not order any appetizers since we correctly presumed this would be LOTS of food!!
While waiting for our food to arrive, I looked around the restaurant, while being pleasantly relaxed by that wonderful smokey aroma. I began to get apprehensive about the quality of the Q’ again when I noticed: wine by the glass, a cappuccino maker, the beech-coloured table tops, tartlettes in the dessert case (rather than things like pecan pie, etc) and biscotti on top of the dessert counter. The establishment looked more like a coffee and dessert place than a BBQ joint. None-the-less, we were committed, ordered and awaiting food so there was no turning back now.
Our food arrived – and there was lots of it! Mr. Cheeze’s plate (large pork ribs) came with 12 ribs, of which I had two. The ribs were about 4-5 inches long and the rack was piled three high. Mr. Cheeze and I both enjoyed them. The were tender on the inside, they were not fatty or gristly and they had nice charred bits on the outside with an appropriate amount of BBQ sauce on them, but not too slathery. We have found that too many places put on excess BBQ sauce in an attempt to mask dry or fatty meat – not so here. The BBQ sauce was smokey sweet and was not overpowering to the meat. Mr. Cheeze’s coleslaw was too mayonaisse-y for us and a bit too runny, though there was a nice tang and did have crunch-factor to it. For both of us, it was a very skippable side (it came with the ribs, but Mr. Cheeze didn’t finish it and wouldn’t otherwise order it on its own). Mr. Cheeze’s beans were better than the slaw. They had nice snap to them (ie, were not too mushy) and there was just enough sauce to them, though I found the sauce too sweet. Mr. Cheeze would definitely order the ribs again
My pulled pork sandwich came served on a 6-inch sesame bun which was fresh. I gave Mr. Cheeze a quarter of my sandwich. We both like the pulled pork sandwich and would order it again. The meat portion was very generous (4-5oz), quite tender, not at all fatty and also had a nice smokey flavour to the BBQ sauce. The mac and cheeze was fine – not the best I’ve had (that was at Virgil’s…mmmm….). The noodles were just a tiny bit overcooked for my liking and I do not believe that the mac and cheese was baked, which I prefer, as it did not have a crusty top. The cheese mix was nice and sharp tasting (a mix of white cheddar, gruyere and asiago), but I thought it was a bit too buttery. That said, I did prefer the mac and cheese to either the slaw or the beans.
We passed on dessert as we were both quite full.
Our server was terrific! Mr. Cheeze is a bit of a messy eater when it comes to things like ribs and had gone through both his paper napkins and wet-naps before finishing his meal. Without being asked, she noticed and brought over extra napkins and wet-naps for him. We each had two beers – before we were finished our first, she was over to ask if we wanted a second. When we were finished, there was a very appropriate amount of time before clearing our plates, but not so long as to wonder if we were ever going to get our bill. We did not need to flag her down for anything.
I will say, that the amount of food we received in our order was too much! I was quite full with ½ a sandwich and the two ribs I stole off Mr. Cheeze’s plate, as well as forkful of each of the slaw, beans and mac. Mr. Cheeze, who has a good appetite, left most of the beans and slaw and two ribs on his plate.
Our bill (including tax and two beers each, but before tip) was about $65. I would definitely return to Sweet Smoke, but order less food and sides would be a toss-up, but the BBQ meat was definitely worth it.
Mac n Cheeze