Stack Restaurant opened for business in early April, and already has a steady flow of customers coming in for their take on Southern-style barbeque. Located on Yonge Street, north of Lawrence, Stack is a glistening new beacon in a neighbourhood already brimming with restaurants. Anchored by a glorious 1,200 pound Southern Pride smoker, Stack's ambitious two-storey dining room (with its mini Yonge Street facing patio) is a combination of diner meets smokehouse, in a modern and upscale setting.
Gutting what was formerly Sorrento Ristorante, Stack isn't what you would normally expect to see in a classic smokehouse. Cozy warm wood floors mix with large flat screen TVs. The stylish décor separates them from their competition (Gabby's is smack next door, and Wildfire is up the street). But how does the food stack up?
Stack was originally imagined as a trendy burger joint but owners Todd Savage and Bill Panos decided to offer significantly broader choices to cater to the neighbourhood's burgeoning family-friendly demographic. Tacos? Check. Got a hankering for Pear and Prosciutto salad? Sure, no problem. But their true focus is the smoker, and after months of testing and tasting (and a couple menu changes after their initial opening), Stack offers a Memphis-style meat goldmine, so save the salads for home and give in to the smoky goodness that prevails over the leafy plates (remember, you don't make friends with salad).
Stack features only local beers on tap, with the selection updated every month or so with a new beer featured to keep things interesting. Flying Monkeys, Lake of Bays, Creemore, Mill Street and Beau's are just some of the selected beers during our visit. A full wine list also available, as are Jones Soda pops and floats.
A Memphis-style rub preps the impressive Stack Brisket Sandwich ($10). Tender morsels of shaved brisket (tossed in your choice of BBQ sauce) are smothered in delicate crispy fried onions and a dollop of buttermilk dill sauce. Although it comes with a la carte sides, they're hardly necessary; the tasty sandwich is large enough on its own to satisfy most appetites.
The half rack of Baby Back Ribs ($18) comes with a small ramekin of sweet and salty baked beans, tangy coleslaw, and fresh cut fries. With three different sauces to choose from, the Memphis medium offered a slight blend of sweet and heat. The perfectly smoked ribs were dynamite; fall off the bone with the slightest poke from my fork, which is a trademark of properly smoked ribs. While I prefer my ribs a bit less saucy, the giant stack of napkins from the cheerful server was ready to remedy any sauce-related disaster.
S'mores doughnuts ($7) were too tempting to be turned down, even if we were rather stuffed. They arrived piping hot and covered in tiny marshmallows, crumbly graham crackers and a drizzle of chocolate. We didn't even finish half of them, but the few we managed closely resembled the iconic Tiny Tom doughnuts from the CNE, in a good way.
While Stack suffers from the far too common 'people pleaser' gene, they do take their barbeque seriously, and their commitment to the smokehouse movement is evident in every delicious bite. As far as the sandwich and salads, well, save it for Subway.
Stack is available for private parties (commonly held upstairs) and takes reservations of all sizes, but note that Stack is not wheelchair accessible.