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Restaurants

Aft Kitchen & Bar

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Profiled on March 11, 2013 / review policy

Aft Kitchen & BarAft is a new kitchen and bar that quietly opened early March on Queen at Broadview in the site of the former Toucan Taco Bar. It's garnered a quick reputation as an East-end BBQ destination, though it's reluctant to accept that distinction.

Part-owner, Paul Campbell tells me that the restaurant was conceived as a humble neighbourhood joint where locals can find familiar plates that aren't married to any specific region or cooking technique. It's easy to see why Aft has been pegged as a smokehouse though, since weekends are devoted exclusively to good old Texas BBQ (tended to by resident pitmaster Lawrence LaPianta) and, smoke does play heavily into the regular menu from Christian Butcher (formerly of O&B, Liberty Grand).

Aft Kitchen & BarInside the 27-seat room, the casual decor from Brothers Dressler consists of custom fixtures, raw-edged wood furnishings and a wall of bottles (namely bourbon and single malts) behind the bar.

Though the kitchen is currently open from 4:30pm to 1am, we stop in to hangout during prep on a recent weekday afternoon while Campbell and company show off the new digs and offer us a first taste.

From the inaugural menu, we try BBQ Side Ribs ($19, lead photo) glazed in lip smacking, housemade bourbon barbeque sauce and served alongside cowboy beans smoked with chunks of bacon and brisket and a side of pleasantly refreshing coleslaw.

Aft Kitchen & BarNext, the "skinny dipped" Smoked Chicken Wings ($14) that are brined, then smoked low and slow before being flash fried for little crunch (natural wings, without the fry are available too) and sauced with the same rib sauce. I could do without the accompanying fries on this plate (though they are well seasoned), if only to leave more room for the awesomely tasty panko crusted, Portobello Mushroom Frites ($8) served with garlicky, thyme aioli for dipping.

Aft Kitchen & BarThe Spring Salad ($7) is one of two salads on offer, adding the only freshness to the meat-heavy menu. It's lovely to look at; mixed greens, topped with colourful smoked cherry tomatoes and rounds of radish and beets, but the promised candied nuts are so sparse and finely chopped that they hardly make an impression.

Aft Kitchen & BarThe chimichurri-sauced, 10 oz. hanger steak featured in the Sous-Vide Steak Frites ($20) is expertly seared and evenly-pink-on-the-inside - a nice preparation for this specific cut. The smoked cipollini onion garnish contributes a little sweetness when included in each forkful and here the fries get my full appreciation, making this a satisfyingly simple plate.

Aft Kitchen & BarCurrently, Aft is focusing on getting dinner just right, but breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch menus will be introduced in the coming weeks. For now, Leslivillers should stop in for a pint and a bite, or, take advantage of the rotating nightly specials like Taco Tuesdays and Deep South Wednesdays. BBQ enthusiasts may want to venture over too, because for a place that's not a BBQ joint, they sure do take great care in doing it right.

Aft Kitchen & BarPhotos by Morris Lum

Discussion

25 Comments

Michael / March 11, 2013 at 12:10 pm
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Ate there last Wednesday and we're going back tonight with out of town friends. Best wings and ribs I've ever had. So juicy! Panko crusted portobello frites were amazing as well.
Liz Lemon / March 11, 2013 at 12:48 pm
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I want to go there!
Real Liz Lemon replying to a comment from Liz Lemon / March 11, 2013 at 01:09 pm
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..you mean you want to go to there? Or do you want to eat to that?
Jmy / March 11, 2013 at 02:32 pm
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this place has been 3 restaurants within a year. La Rossingal and the Taco bar were both not great. Is this the same owners?
Eastsider replying to a comment from Jmy / March 11, 2013 at 04:17 pm
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No, apparently it's different owners this time (thanks goodness) - people with ACTUAL restaurant experience.

Rossignol and Toucan as well as Canard Mort further east on Queen all have/had the same owner though. That guy doesn't know what the hell he's doing - no working restaurant experience at all from what I understand. He shuttered Rossignol after barely a year (and generally positive reviews) to open Toucan (trying to piggy-back the Taco trend, I guess) - which was a mess (overpriced and bad food). He then came up with the weird idea to "merge" Rossignol into Canard Mort (two totally different menus that don't really fit together). From what I've seen, hasn't exactly panned out either so I'm anticipating another deadpool there as well.

Looking forward to giving AFT a try though.
Ruby replying to a comment from Jmy / March 11, 2013 at 04:25 pm
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- not the same owners as the previous restaurants! Brand new venture and BEST BBQ in the City!
Chef Christian replying to a comment from Jmy / March 11, 2013 at 04:44 pm
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no, not the same owners
Sammy W. / March 11, 2013 at 05:19 pm
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Holy Smoke! great eats!
Realest Liz Lemon / March 11, 2013 at 05:31 pm
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Liz Lemon likes to do her own thing, you'd be wise to stay out of her way when she 'goes there'
Dan / March 11, 2013 at 07:03 pm
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Delighted that this is not another venture from the Toucan people--Toucan was an astonishingly shit joint.
Gabe / March 11, 2013 at 09:35 pm
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By "Joint" do you mean Doobie? Cone? Twistin...
Dee / March 12, 2013 at 09:58 am
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Tried it out Saturday night......the Brisket was outstanding! My girlfriend had the pulled pork so I tried that too and it melted in your mouth.
Joy / March 12, 2013 at 10:24 am
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Yummy..loved the southern fried chicken and the portobello frites.
PETRA / March 12, 2013 at 05:08 pm
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Sous-vide Steak Frites is AMAZING. My new 'steak' place for sure! gotta try the portobello frites as well......they rock
C / March 19, 2013 at 05:48 pm
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Tried to go last Friday - it was way too busy. Hour plus wait. I guess the word is out! Plus, they ran out of ribs... which we were hoping to try :(

Going to go for lunch some other time. Hopefully it won't be as ram jammed.

Looked tasty though!
Steph / March 22, 2013 at 07:44 pm
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Tried the ribs - they were way too dry, I couldn't get much meat off of them. Cute place though ! Fries were good
Neil / April 16, 2013 at 01:19 pm
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Went with friends on Saturday, Brisket = Top marks, smoked to perfection. Ribs = Close 2nd, big with a nice dry rub and side sauce. Chicken = Good, tender and smokey. Beans = Awesome, should add as an entree. could eat that alone with a cold pint. I'll be back very soon!
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Johnny / September 5, 2013 at 08:02 pm
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I met a dude here and we had a good time in the boys room.
Rino / September 16, 2013 at 08:58 pm
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the food is to die for! just love the atmosphere...
James / September 29, 2013 at 03:56 pm
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Brunch. Like no other. I go there with my brother and we get 3 dishes because the gravy is dope. Grab a pint and a couple Caesars just right. Great way to start the day and then check later that Sunday for the smoke ribs and smoker on the back patio.
Sara / January 5, 2014 at 06:37 pm
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The place has one of the best smoked brisket and smoked half chicken in town.

Prices are very reasonable, and parking is not a bitch around there. Beats all the fancy places.

S
brooksideto / July 28, 2014 at 01:29 pm
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From the west side of Toronto to the east side BBQ spots are popping up everywhere. AFT nails it in my books! The real thing. Nice work. Also a plus that its open for lunch. Wish they would hook up with usehurrier.com so i could get delivery!!

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