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Big Crow

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Profiled on July 25, 2013 / review policy

Big Crow TorontoBig Crow is the new backyard BBQ joint from Anthony Rose that opened recently behind his still-newish first restaurant, Rose and Sons on Dupont.

Big Crow TorontoThe outdoor hall, encircled by trees features long rows of communal picnic tables that extend back towards the shipping crate-made kitchen where heavenly thick smoke billows from the custom pit and is fanned into the yard. It's a perfectly laid back kind of place where passing plates around the table and eating with your hands is not just encouraged but almost necessary.

Big Crow BBQThe menu lists starters, little and big crow plates, sides, and desserts. Everything is conducive to sharing and even cocktails by the pitcher can be ordered for the table. I stop in over lunch hour on a recent blazing, hot afternoon and was thankful for the shade provided by the tented canopy.

The headliners at this daily cookout — helmed by executive chef, Christopher Sanderson — are likely the baby back ribs ($26/slab) or grilled lobsters ($36/1.5lb), but for lunch I try out a couple of the smaller plates starting with Porchetta Sausage ($13). The peppery, circular coil of meat is served over a slice of Thuet bread and balanced by a sweet, red pepper condiment. While a simple dish, it's exceptionally tasty.

Bg Crow TorontoThe Swordfish ($14) steak with fresh salsa is grilled perfectly so that it's firm but juicy. This one is topped with a mango and red onion salsa that's best slopped up by the single slice of bread supplied... if only there was more bread.

Big Crow TorontoDessert is campy in all the right ways with ice cream sandwiches ($6) loaded onto brioche buns. I try the S'mores assembled from thick cut slabs of Chapman's vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, crushed graham crackers and toasted marshmallows on top. Picking it up is out of the question; the eggy bun ends up absorbing the ice cream as it melts turning it into a delicious pudding.

Big Crow TorontoAs mentioned above, cocktails from Churchill star bartender, Quenton Fortune, are available by the pitcher ($24-26) or glass ($9-12). I try the house punch which today is a refreshing blend of; strawberry purée, limeade and gin, though it'll be switched up frequently and can be done alcohol free. Local brews like Beau's Lugtread Ale and Kensington's Watermelon Wheat are available on tap, along with select bottles and wines.

Big CrowBig Crow is looking into weatherizing for year-round feasting. Currently the mess hall can seat about fifty at a time and opens for dinner early in the week at 5pm and then for lunch at 11am from Thursday to Sunday. Nightly, they're open until whenever. Limited reservations are accepted but walk-ins are encouraged. If you do find yourself waiting, there's standing tables upfront so you can get started on some cocktails and at least feel like you've already arrived.

Big Crow TorontoPhotos by Jesse Milns



Rupert / July 25, 2013 at 01:44 pm
Article by Liora Ipsum? Surely you must be a graphic or web designer.
Kaitlin / July 25, 2013 at 04:24 pm
"Local brews like Beau's Lugtread Ale and Kensington's Watermelon Wheat are available on tap."

I got nothing but love for the folks at Beau's. But Vankleek Hill calls itself 'local' to Ottawa. Not Toronto.
smsm / July 25, 2013 at 09:55 pm
I'm really happy there are people doing things like this in toronto. It makes it a great city to live in.
Blue Light replying to a comment from Kaitlin / July 26, 2013 at 02:29 am
I contract brew for Beau's by pissing via a catheter into kegs.
Thadius Gluck / July 26, 2013 at 07:04 am

Liora Ipsum is a clever pseudonym.
Pat / July 26, 2013 at 12:09 pm
Visited the restaurant this week and the BBQ was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. We ate inside. If you want a loud atmosphere, undercooked food all at inflated prices,try it out.
jimmy / July 26, 2013 at 01:43 pm
can't wait to have a nap on that bench.
Law replying to a comment from Pat / July 29, 2013 at 12:43 pm
Simply inaccurate,given my experience with this resto.
I've been a dozen times, and will continue to go.
JW replying to a comment from Thadius Gluck / July 30, 2013 at 05:36 pm
It may be a pseudonym, but clever it is not.
Maryam / August 3, 2013 at 07:43 pm
one of the best meals I have had in Toronto in a long while... love the outdoor vibe and the service was amazing as well... excited to go back...
z / September 12, 2013 at 08:12 pm
Looks great, hopefully better than the overhyped letdown Rose & Sons brunch inside.
JFin / September 25, 2013 at 10:30 am
I was so ready to love this place when I took my family a few nights back -- it's a fantastic idea, the atmosphere is great, the service we got was friendly. And I love both barbecue and sharing big meals family-style. Unfortunately, the food was hit and miss, with some really significant misses.

We started off with the country chop salad, which was fine, and the steel head trout poke, which was my favourite thing of the night. Really interesting, unexpected flavour.

Unfortunately, things didn't go so well with main dishes. The jerk chicken wings were so charred that they were black, dry, and tasteless. And though the burst tomato pesto on the baby back ribs was tasty, it was the only good thing about it -- the meat on its own was chewy and flavourless. Huge disappointment, as we were really looking forward to some good ribs. We also had the porchetta sausage with red pepper relish, which was pretty good, but not good enough to make up for the disappointment of the other two meats.

The sides we got were just okay; the potato salad was kind of overwhelmed by a strong mustard dressing, and the cubanello peppers and eggplant weren't anything special. The grilled corn salad was pretty delicious though.

Finally, we sampled the ice cream sandwiches. Not the easiest thing to eat, what with the big bun, but they were actually much better than I expected. The PB&J worked particularly well for me. But I'm not sure it's something I'd want to have more than once.

TL;DR: There were some tasty things here, and a lot of good ideas going on, but considering the size of the bill at the end of things there were just too many disappointments for me to justify coming back.
G / November 14, 2013 at 04:54 pm
Short version:

Fantastic food, fantastic atmosphere, fantastic staff — sans a highly ignorant waitress. Highly recommended unless you have celiac/gluten-intolerance.

Long version:

Big Crow is great, but definitely still has some kinks to work out — particularly with a few of the wait staff.

I went with a few friends, one of whom is celiac and thus unable to eat gluten. Anthony was standing outside, and when we asked him if the menu would be appropriate with someone with celiac he was awesome and ensured us they had plenty of options that would be celiac-friendly. When we sat down Christopher came over and sat with my friend and went over the menu with her — showing her what was and wasn't gluten free, and what she should avoid. He ensured us that we had no risk of cross-contamination unless we ordered bread with our entree. We were incredibly impressed with him and Anthony — it's not easy being celiac, and it's not often you have the head chef personally go over a menu with you.

However, the waitress was not as knowledgable. Upon telling her that my friend was celiac, she immediately listed a bunch of menu items as "gluten-free" when Christopher, the head chef, had previously told us the same items were NOT celiac-friendly. When we pointed out the mistake to her, she looked annoyed and walked off. When we placed our order with the same waitress, my friend specifically asked if she could have it served without bread in order to avoid cross-contamination.

Needless to say, despite Anthony's/Christopher's best efforts, my friend ended up getting sick not long after we left the restaurant. It was incredibly disappointing, because the food at Big Crow is AMAZING and the treatment we received from Anthony, Christopher, and the other staff was just above-and-beyond. However, the ignorance on one waitress' end make the whole experience awful for my friend.

Despite the experience we had, I still highly recommend Big Crow... as long as you don't have any allergies or intolerances. The food is fantastic, the atmosphere is great, and the (majority of the) staff is absolutely wonderful.
Piper / April 8, 2014 at 12:45 am
What's with all the rave reviews? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

I went with three friends and we agreed: the food was bad. Not just not to our liking--badly cooked, as in dry, tasteless meat, verging on burned in some cases. Huge disappointment followed by a huge bill. Not impressed, Big Crow.
Jaz / July 23, 2014 at 08:55 pm
I just had the most epic meal here. My girlfriend and I had the garlic bread (i may have weeped at the first bite) and then delicious ribs. I drank Dillon's vodka on the rocks. the service was amazing and we had the best time !
Tad / December 14, 2014 at 06:21 am
The food is not fit for human consumption. This place is only a watering hole for the unlucky.

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