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Restaurants

Barque Smokehouse

Posted by Staff / Reviewed on June 7, 2011 / review policy

Barque SmokehouseBarque Smokehouse is a new addition to Roncesvalles, located at the corner of Geoffery in the old Bistro 299 space. This casual smokehouse boasts an assortment of classic southern barbecue, crafted cocktails, and seasonal desserts. As its name implies, Barque takes a twist on the classics while still remaining true to their flavour.

Having made reservations in advance, we were seated promptly avoiding the 15-20 minute wait. Take note: The word's out, so plan ahead! However, bar seating was available and takeout was a popular alternative.

Barque SmokehouseExposed brick, unfinished wood paneling, and mid-century chairs give the space a modern edge without being fashionably uncomfortable - a place for families or even a date.

Barque SmokehouseThe rotating drink specials were: Smokey Lemon Bourbon Sour ($10), Mint Julep ($9), and a Bacon Caesar ($8). The Lemon Bourbon was like sunshine in a glass. The smokey notes from the brulee lemon garnish brought out the peat of the Bourbon. By far though, the Caesar with a honey-dipped-candied-bacon-rim was the crowd pleaser. The spiciness of the Caesar contrasted beautifully with the savoury sweetness of the bacon - a constant juxtaposing flavour found in most dishes that evening.

Barque SmokehouseFor an appetizer, we decided to try the Brisket Poutine with Veal Gravy ($10). Is it too bold to say that a restaurant can be judged solely on their poutine? If so, it blew us away and by the end of the night they were sold out! The gravy covers your tongue in umami heaven.

Barque SmokehouseBy adding a sampler option for one ($20) or two ($36), the approachable menu allows you to try a lot for a little. (Choice of three: Spicy Pork Ribs, Brisket, Beef Ribs, or Chicken Thighs.) The server implored us to get the chicken - but who gets chicken eating out, right? WRONG! The chicken was succulent, needing no sauce.

The beef ribs were covered in a caramelized smokey bark (or should I say barq) and was my favorite by far, although everyone else preferred the chicken. I found the brisket braised beyond recognition and the peppercorn marinade lack luster. The pork ribs were a tad dry but the spicy rub was like crack. For sides, definitely try the Pickle Platter ($4). The sourness is a great palate cleanser balancing the savouriness of the meats with the sweetness of their sauces.

Barque SmokehouseIn keeping with its southern roots, a slab of housemade Pecan Pie was in order, with a side of Greg's famous Roasted Marshmallow Ice Cream. Not really a Pecan Pie eater, but I found myself scraping the plate.

Barque SmokehouseBarque is the perfect welcome to summer and now with brunch on the weekends you have even more opportunities to try it out.

Barque SmokehouseWriting and photos by Ryan Spencer

Discussion

59 Comments

Tina / April 30, 2011 at 10:53 am
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Went there last week and it was delicious! Ribs soooo good.
Kelly / May 28, 2011 at 12:25 am
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Simply superb. Accessible elegance. Highly recommended.
Bubba / June 8, 2011 at 10:16 am
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meat good
lucas / June 8, 2011 at 10:22 am
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easily my favourite restaurant in toronto. great food, reasonable prices, great service. owners are super nice too, chef came over to chat for a little while about the restaurant. even taught my buddy how to prep and smoke ribs properly at home. this should be a go-to spot for anyone who loves good food and bbq.
Trish / June 8, 2011 at 10:22 am
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I agree. The food was amazing and the staff was warm, friendly and informative. Win, win, win.
wazoo / June 8, 2011 at 10:27 am
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I hear it's great. But I've also heard to avoid going Sunday's because they have a fixed menu and some of their best items are unavailable. For example, my friend went for beef ribs this past Sunday, but they were not on the fixed menu and were simply not available, period, as a result.
steve / June 8, 2011 at 10:39 am
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First off the brisket is not braised it is smoked! I found it over priced for the portion size. We got the sampler platter, 6 slices of beef brisket, 2 measily chicken thighs and 6 dry ribs. The side so dissapointing! 6 pieces of asparagus! 2\3 of a corn on the cob. All for $40. Not real southern BBQ but a good shot at it. Toronto still needs a true Southern BBQ place. Baked beans or pulled pork would be nice to see on the menu. JMO for someone who has done a lot of traveling in the south.
Ew / June 8, 2011 at 11:15 am
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Um, THAT is NOT poutine!!! They shouldn't even be allowed to label it as such! Disrespect!
COLLIS replying to a comment from Ew / June 8, 2011 at 11:22 am
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Clearly you've never been to ASHTON in Kaybec.

http://www.chez-ashton.com/prod.php?prod=1&;subprod=1

Where poutine has been respectfully/charmingly upgraded for decades.
cee / June 8, 2011 at 11:53 am
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Do they have gravy that isn't veal? I draw my line in the sand at veal.
MrTeh replying to a comment from cee / June 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm
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I draw my line in the veal-gravy with a fry.
Chinatown Fried Rice / June 8, 2011 at 12:13 pm
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yeah that sampler plater for 2 is not worth what you get. Easily a few minutes away is Paul & Sandy's real bbq. Their platter for 2 is half the price of this place and you get way more food. I guess this place will succeed, with it's location and all.
Chris / June 8, 2011 at 12:17 pm
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I live in the neighbourhood and have been waiting for a restaurant like this for years!

I tried the tasting platter for two, and unlike steve (comment above), I found it a great value! Sure the meat portions might *look* a little small at first glance, but the meat is so good and so rich, that my partner and I could hardly finish the whole platter. Plus, the amount of time and effort that goes into smoking the meat has to be compensated.

I do agree that the asparagus is a little lack-luster... but all the other sides we got were great. And the pickle platter was simply AMAZING! I loved the way that the crisp and sour pickled vegetables paired with the heavy and sweet meat. The pretzel bread and butter that accompanied the veggies was delicious as well.

We were way too full for deserts, so I didn't get to try any. On our way out the chef greeted us and asked for our honest opinions about the food. Great place all around - will definitely return for more!
luca replying to a comment from steve / June 8, 2011 at 12:25 pm
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they don't market themselves as southern bbq. read some reviews and interviews with the chef on torontolife and other sites. they are positioned as a more refined, upscale take on bbq, hence the only fried thing on the menu is fries. no mac & cheese but rather ravioli, etc.
brandon / June 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm
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Split the fixed price Sunday meal with my gf and we had four satisfying meals out of it. Food was quite good and a decent value.
APOW / June 8, 2011 at 01:03 pm
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THEY SPELLED BARBEQUE WRONG.

@EW - STFU
thanos replying to a comment from Ew / June 8, 2011 at 01:24 pm
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As a montrealer, i have to say to you "EW", if you don't think that's poutine, then you have no clue what poutine is.
Jibbly / June 8, 2011 at 02:28 pm
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Is it safe to say then that roncy finally has as much barque as it does bite?
Mike / June 8, 2011 at 03:31 pm
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Loved my trip there. Standouts were the brisket, wings, chicken thigh, and the drinks. I'll be going back again.

The ribs were a bit dryer and lacked a depth of flavour than what I expected. Maybe it was just the rack I was served though.

Gord / June 8, 2011 at 04:16 pm
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I'll be sure to drop by for a dose of overpriced pretension once the fad wears thin.
stra replying to a comment from Gord / June 8, 2011 at 04:44 pm
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douchey, douchey, doucherino. Yuck Gord. Take it somewhere else. Like, Swiss Chalet?
Chris replying to a comment from Ew / June 8, 2011 at 04:54 pm
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ummm...have you ever been to Montreal?
Jane / June 8, 2011 at 04:58 pm
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we've lived in roncy for years and wanted to not like this place. it's a bit too trendy for the strip but i guess that's just a taste of what's the come for the future of roncy. we went for the sunday meal and it was good. nothing really blew us away though. we found the ribs kind of dry. though the chicken was surprisingly moist. i was actually disappointed with the fries. i found them thin and overly seasoned. and everything seemed to have cinnamon on it. though we had a good experience. the service was good and owner went around to all the tables to chat and seemed very nice and humble. i would go again with friends to the sunday meal for the experience. though in terms of food we bbq a lot and felt we could've done just as good if not better on our own.
Nics / June 10, 2011 at 03:53 pm
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I LOVED this place, Ronces Needed a Place like this big time.

The only thing that rocked me the wrong way, was when I asked if they could make Poutine during lunch they said no...even though they had all the ingredients available on their Lunch menu, they couldnt put it together for me??

I will go back, I will finally try the poutine and i am sure I will love it!
Sarah / June 13, 2011 at 06:14 pm
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Had to check this place out, based on the yummy review. Especially the pecan pie with roasted marshmallow ice cream.
Didn't let me down. Thanks for the great tips!
Kay / June 18, 2011 at 01:37 am
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We discovered this place by accident tonight and loved it. We were pressed for time so we opted for a selected of appetizers since we were told the "mains" would take about 35 mins. It was all so delicious and really filling. My favorites were the asparagus soup with pancetta & lemon zest, their amazing poutine and smokey shrimp. Their caesar was nice and spicy, too. We ordered beignets to go for dessert and it came with smoked pineapple and an orange caramel sauce. Mmm! Can't wait to check out the "mains" and buy jars of pickled goodies! It's also child-friendly and our waiter was really awesome. GO THERE!
bill lee / June 18, 2011 at 07:05 pm
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wow the egg benedict was really good. We waited for 30 mins and it was so good so we forgot about the long way.
Ratpick / July 3, 2011 at 10:06 pm
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Patio overlooks Barque's fleet of green bins and garbage cans. Disgusting. Eat inside.
Pat / July 12, 2011 at 03:43 pm
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Went for lunch yesterday and will definitely go back. The pulled chicken and salad were tender, fresh and very delicious. Nice atmosphere and decor too.
Jen / July 15, 2011 at 11:19 am
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I was there a few weeks ago and had terrible lunch service and mediocre food. Will not return.
Rita / July 15, 2011 at 11:39 am
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We love this place. Not the best BBQ on the continent, but good for Toronto and a good meal in general :) We usually order the platter for two and have enough for a second meal. The chicken and brisket are our faves.

Every time we've gone the service has been excellent - more friendly than most Toronto restaurants, without being annoying.
jay / July 20, 2011 at 09:09 pm
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I am a caesar fiend, and was thrilled by the bacon-rimmed glass, and garnish of pickled beans. That said, maybe I'm just cheap, but $10 was perhaps a tad steep for an otherwise standard caesar.

As for the food, the chicken was great, ribs a bit dry, brisket tasty, and the salad sides were fresh with ample toppings (bacon/croutons; pecans/cranberries etc.), but the asparagus was a joke. I think there were 7 spears, MAYBE. Really regretted not getting the pickled veg.

Service was lovely. I'm surprised they were all still in good spirits despite the fact that the combined heat from the busy kitchen and the TO heatwave were overtaking the restaurant.

I would go back to try out brunch and/or poutine.
sarah / July 25, 2011 at 01:00 pm
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if you plan on going for dinner you better make a reservation...if its for the weekend you better make it a week in advance!! we were lucky to get a table for three (walking in) for the lunch menu...the place was just as packed..(just minus a waiting line out the door!( it's worth the wait though..the service and food were fantastic!!
megz / August 15, 2011 at 01:22 pm
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AMAZING food, our waiter wasn't the greatest(not friendly and made more then enough mistakes) but will definitely be going back
Susan Bernstein / August 25, 2011 at 09:09 am
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I just went to Barque yesterday and I had a good time. The food was good but the service was impeccable. "Gerardo" who I recognized from Pizzeria Libretto was knowledgeable and filled with personality. I did ask about certain menu items and his personal recommendations and he was honest enough to say that he had just begun working there and he did not taste all of the menu items personally. Although, he did recommend the pickled vegetables and as he said, they were by the far the best thing on the menu. I plan to return! As a local, I am extremely thrilled that a place such as this has opened in my neighbourhood!
Clare / September 3, 2011 at 10:45 pm
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Rabbit was yum
Randy / September 14, 2011 at 11:30 pm
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Who rocks the flame? Really like this place. Pork and beef fest supreme.
Stephanie / October 3, 2011 at 10:58 pm
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Great food! I went for lunch and ordered a brisket sandwich with arugula salad and a lemonade. Everything was very delicious. The sandwich is a mouthfull to say the least, its sloppy, its messy but its oh so tasty. It comes with these crunchy onions on the bottom and the bun fits the meat and sauce perfectly. The arugula salad was large, fresh and very flavourful without having too much dressing. Also, don't underestimate the lemonade, they serve it in mason jar cups and tastes homemade with that freshly squeezed lemonade taste, more tart than sweet. The service was really great too, very friendly staff. My total was about $15 not including tip, totally worth it!
Mike / December 28, 2011 at 06:17 pm
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The ribs were totally garbage! So far in my opinion no one can beat Baton Rouge !!! Swiss Chalet is second.
Mike / December 28, 2011 at 08:14 pm
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Forgot to mention that if the menu does not read
"FALL OFF THE BONE!"
for the rib meals don't bother ordering them! I was so used to eating at Baton Rouge I forgot to look for this when I went to eat at Barque's !
horizoncarrie / January 6, 2012 at 10:44 am
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Make reservations or you will never get in. esp. if your really really hungry. they have the best Cesars in toronto. hands down!
Rena / January 15, 2012 at 09:23 am
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As a vegetarian who often gets dragged to meat-heavy restaurants with my family, I had an amazing experience at Barque. My brothers and mom loved all the meat-y goodness, and the server was very nice to me and got the chef to make me something special. Definitely recommend it! :)
Margot / February 19, 2012 at 05:09 pm
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Went to barque last night, and was a little skeptical after hearing mixed reviews on the food and some comments the servers were snarky.

On the whole - the experience was excellent. The servers were attentive, funny and full of advice when asked.

Chicken and Caesar salad are excellent (which is full of delicious bacon of course), as was the side of homemade gnocchi I also had as a side.

The fact that they pull in chocolates from the new Chocolateria up the street added to the neighbourhood appeal.

Good food, great service, definitely worth a try!
Shane / March 8, 2012 at 05:39 pm
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I went there last week. Great vibe. Get the meat sampler plate!
Unfair / March 18, 2012 at 01:47 pm
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While the food and service is good, I was upset to find out that the people that work in the kitchen slave away to make your food for 12 hours straight with NO break to eat something (nor does the kitchen provide food for the staff). On top of this they are paid $11/hr which is bullshit when your bill exceeds $50-$100. So basically the glamorous Barques has a sweatshop for a kitchen. Just keep that in mind while you enjoy your food that the people who made it are ready to drop dead just to keep a job.
Pat / March 27, 2012 at 05:39 pm
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I was there on Saturday food was uninspiring,dry ribs,when they say back ribs they mean baby back ribs because these are the smallest back ribs I have ever seen .Sitting at the counter facing the kitchen,let me just tell you it is such a in such disgust ,seeing the guy cut meat and platting food falling on the floor on top of other dishes underneath his counter ,him cleaning his hand on his messy shirt.A trip to the washroom and you can see the back of the kitchen.dishwasher and hot cook working back to back nothing in between,hot cooks work table all messy with a bunch of containers nothing refrigerated.I saw all this while the dishwasher and cook are talking to each other sharing some chicken wings.
Lubin / April 22, 2012 at 11:37 am
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I was there for lunch last Wednesday and I was pleased to see the 12 dollar lunch menu. Quite a decent selection for a smokehouse in my opinion. I settled for the pulled pork sandwich which had a hint of an Asian flare with the pear sauce they put on it. So definitely not a traditional pulled pork sandwich,yet it did deliver on it's tenderness. The sandwich came with a huge order side of fries coated with their house seasoning. Very very tasty. Service was great and atmosphere very enjoyable. I look forward to the next I'm there.
bbqfan / May 10, 2012 at 11:19 am
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overall I would say about 6/10.... not even close to a good American BBQ counterpart.
We couldn't understand all the hype around this place, and the fact that you have to book so far in advance to get a reservation? The prices are on the high side considering not all the food quality was consistent.
plus- service was excellent from a waiter named Jonathan , really tasty caesar salad , amazing poutine appetizer , and delicious smoked asparagus side .
minus- sitting at a high table on stools with a reservation booked a week ahead, baby backs were over cooked ,dry and not tender , brisket was extremely fatty and inedible , grilled vegetables were wet, overcooked ,and tasteless .

BTW Pat isn't wrong.... using the restroom is not a great experience. it's not a bonus to see the back section of a busy restaurant's kitchen..... pretty disgusting .
Saucy replying to a comment from Unfair / August 15, 2012 at 05:40 pm
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Why don't you offer them higher-paying jobs in your own kitchen instead of trying to kill traffic to this restaurant?
Unfair replying to a comment from Saucy / August 15, 2012 at 08:17 pm
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Im speaking from knowing someone who worked at this restaurant lol and you think my comment will affect traffic? Please.
miss replying to a comment from Unfair / November 12, 2012 at 10:18 pm
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Actually, Barque is an community of employees that are respected by the management. We are treated fairly and we have fun doing our jobs. For you to say what you have said without working there yourself, understanding the economics behind restaurants, make your points invalid. LOL, please.
Jesse / March 16, 2013 at 09:02 am
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Worth it.

I've been here for brunch and dinner and both times were awesome. The brisket and mashed potatoes were amazing.
Devan Balgobin / March 21, 2013 at 01:21 am
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Went for brunch on st.patty's day and the food was awesome!
My gf had the smoked duck pancakes and i had the barque brisket sandwich.
I did find the bartender to be a little snooty, when I asked for a beer recommendation.
Other than that, awesome place for smoked meats!

Rick / April 10, 2013 at 02:49 pm
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Just came back from this place, and I have to say.... IT'S INCREDIBLE!!! Had the brisquette sandwich, and it was a big WOW - So tasty and done perfectly, excellent smoke flavor!!!
Amazing fries as well - I highly recommend this place... Oh ya - It's not that expensive either!!!! A must try.
Steve / April 14, 2013 at 12:50 pm
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The comment section of websites is the homeless shelter of the internet.
Sarahg / April 21, 2013 at 08:25 pm
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I've heard really good things about this place. Quick question - I have a crew of carnivores with one vegan/gluten free person who's quite health conscious. Does anyone know if they have any healthy meatless alternatives for people who come with their meat loving companions? :)
Marek Warunkiewicz / May 18, 2013 at 07:47 pm
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As much as I like Barque, the terrific BBQ place on Ronci, maybe the best BBQ in TO, I won't be going back there. I told them that we are celebrating a birthday and we'd like to stay the evening. We were told that we would be kicked out an hour and a half after we arrive. I understand the "fitting in as many people to make as much money as possible" thing, but still, not a classy move. You've lost a client!

Please note, they didn't have a full reserved seating after the hour we wanted to arrive at since they still had openings and we were offered a late one. We always eat a lot and tip extremely well, by the way.
USBJ / July 8, 2013 at 07:40 pm
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Hit the spot!! Got the sampler for two and it was more than enough for 2-4. Good stuff. Loved the visit. Great service!!
Rick replying to a comment from Marek Warunkiewicz / January 8, 2014 at 04:15 pm
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Your an inconsiderate ass hat. The place isnt big at all, why not go somewhere where they have seating and can accomodate your groups size for the evening? If I wanted to eater dinner with my signifigant other and couldn't be seated because your group is taking up 1/2 of the restaurant, blubbering away over a pinot, I'd be super pissed about how inconsiderate you are.

Like I said the place is tiny, the mgmt of the place did the right thing by booting your polak ass out

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