Lou Dawg's Southern Sandwiches
Lou Dawg's has a curiously rustic menu. Specializing in meat, other kinds of meat and more meat, this newish King West sandwich joint is not the place to take vegetarian friends or fancy people.
Who should go to Lou Dawg's? Diners who like the taste of campfire--not liquid smoke, or chemically fabricated hickory zest--but genuine, smoky, "I hate white rabbits" campfire flavour. The taste is so authentic that I had to smell my jacket 30 minutes after leaving, surprised I wasn't carrying the tell-tale effluence.
Despite Toronto's recent carnivore craze, Lou Dawg's is only the second smoke house to open downtown (the other is Phil's). Spacious and tavern-dark, Lou Dawg's is decorated in wood-plank panels and a stone facing that reminds me of a Bruce County highway, a jagged square hewn through limestone peninsula, and a sure path to campgrounds, cottages and, of course, BBQs.
Lou Dawg's looks and feels like a mid-range family dining establishment, so I was surprised to discover they'd opted for counter service instead of full-service dining. I was equally astonished by the quick delivery of my meal: barely had my lunch friend and I started chatting before the waitress was calling our names.
We ordered a Pulled Pork Sandwich ($6), Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich ($8), Garden Salad ($3), Blackbean Corn Salad ($3) and Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Muffin ($2). Unfortunately there were no muffins on hand, but our friendly staffer quickly offered a replacement (Meaty BBQ Beans-$3)--with no quibbles over the extra $1.
Both sandwiches were big enough to feed an average lunch eater, unless this average lunch eater was a) determined to have some veg with every meal and b) a glutton. Since I'm both, I shelled out the extra moola for sides, compromising my Cheap Eats lunch rules ($10 or less for a full lunch, $15 and under for dinner) but satisfying my (now distended) belly.
The Pulled Pork Sandwich was perfect: soft, smoky, and smothered in a sweet, slightly piquant house-made sauce. I would recommend this sandwich to any pulled pork aficionado, although I won't order it again myself. One bite of Lou Dawg's Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich had me hopelessly devoted like a prom queen to the high school badass: it smokes, it's saucy, and I know it's bad for me, but it's also unbearably tender. I'm smitten, and can't imagine choosing any other sandwich.
Rounding out the cast of flavours, the Blackbean Corn Salad came dressed in Chipotle Lime Sauce, giving refreshing contrast to heavy meat mains. Meaty BBQ Beans followed the theme of the sandwiches, and were rich, tender, and (surprise!), smoky. The Garden Salad was super fresh, but curiously covered in a Smokey Balsamic Dressing that was a bit too acidic and, well, smoky. A lighter contrast to the mains would've been nice, but I don't suppose it matters all that much, since meat is the feature at Lou Dawg's, and the meat is amazing.
Lou Dawg's has been open for just a few weeks, but if they continue producing this level of quality BBQ, I'm sure they'll manage to keep the home fires burning for a long, long time.