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Executive chef Anthony Rose attends to Drake BBQ smoker out back. Photo by David Laurence.
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Mary O’Connell, Derrick Rathwell (centre) and Liam MacKenzie love those messy ’swiches at Drake BBQ. Photo by David Laurence.
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Photo by David Laurence.
DRAKE BBQ (1142 Queen West, at Beaconsfield, 416-531-5042, thedrakehotel.ca/bbq) Complete meals for $13 per person, including all taxes, tip and a bottle of soda pop. Average main $8. Thursday and Friday from 6 pm to 3:30 am, Saturday noon to 3:30 am, Sunday noon to 5 pm, or until they sell out. Closed Monday to Wednesday, holidays. No reservations. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: steep ramp at door, no washrooms. Rating: NNNN
Move over, Poutini. There's a new kid on the block muscling in on the Queen West late-night noshin' scene.
Though the hard-working kids in the trendy boutique hotel's publicity department have labelled its latest offshoot a "pop-up" restaurant - a guerrilla-style resto with an intentionally brief shelf life as opposed to those like El Barrio in the Market that unexpectedly go out of business shortly after they open - the Drake BBQ isn't going anywhere soon.
"It's always been our intention to be a permanent set-up," explains Drake Hotel executive chef Anthony Rose of the resto that's just opened a few doors east of the ultra-hip nightspot. "We're here to stay."
That's a relief, because you wouldn't want to miss out on some of the most righteous barbecue in town, even if the card is only limited to three sandwiches, one of them a combo of the other two.
Five ounces of Perth County pulled pork shoulder come in the Carolina-style ($6.95), sweetly finished with apple cider vinegar, sugar and red chili flakes, while the same amount of chunky beef brisket ($7.95) gets the Texas treatment, brushed with a traditional red sauce of molasses, vinegar and ancho chilies. Both have been rubbed for 48 hours and smoked in-house for another 15. They're also unusually juicy.
"About three-quarters of the way through the process, we do something called ‘the Texas Crutch,'" says Rose. "After 12 hours, the meat's not really taking in any more smoke, so the longer you cook it, the more it dries out. At that point, we wrap it tight in tinfoil and put it back in the smoker so that the meat stays nice and moist."
The sandwiches are extremely messy, but deliciously so. Perhaps that's why they're served with a plastic fork and a lot of napkins. Buns are minimal, absorbent and strictly Wonder Bread, just as tradition dictates.
Limited sides include bags of sea-salted Covered Bridge potato chips ($1.49), crunchy Tymek's sour dill pickles (75 cents) and a tangy green cabbage slaw ($1.49) - secret ingredients: hamburger relish and grated garlic - made from a recipe stolen from the legendary Ezell's Fish Camp in Alabama.
And don't forget a splash of five-alarm hot sauce, a cranium-melting mix of habaneros and "a little bit of tropical fruit" that the chef refers to as "PGB sauce." Which stands for?
"Prison Gang Bang sauce."
Be that as it may, but be sure to save room for Rose's Whoopie pie ($2.49), an oversized Oreo-like confection made with chocolate cake and obscenely rich vanilla frosting that's particularly popular with the Pennsylvania Dutch. Who knew the Amish got up to this much fun?