The Stockyards Smokehouse & Larder
The Stockyards is an unassuming new barbecue restaurant specializing in southern-style slow cooked meats that opened a couple of months ago on St Clair West, just west of Christie Street.
The restaurant's narrow front is so inconspicuous that we almost walk right past it on the sweltering night that we stop by for dinner.
As it turns out, The Stockyards is geared towards take-out as restricted space doesn't allow for more than about ten people to be seated at a time.
Upon entering we're greeted with the divine smell of a griddle busy with custom-made burgers and pitchers of both the home-made mint-infused limeade and tropical fruit punch to sample.
We help ourselves to the takeout menus as a steady stream of people file up to the counter and stroll out gleefully clutching smoky-marinade scented meat housed in bio-degradable containers.
The menu looks so good that between the three of us, settling on what to order feels like working out a treaty. Our indecisiveness dissolves when we spot an orange highlighter-macheted menu taped up next to the till. "That means we're out" our server grimly confirms as we regroup to pick from the five items left on the menu.
Realizing that slowly marinaded meat can't be quickly replenished an hour before closing time on a busy day makes the situation more disappointing than annoying.
I'm promised that the fried chicken is worth the 20 minute preparation time so we grab refreshing limeades and swivel stools while we wait.
My porchetta sandwich with sautéed rapini ($10.50) shows up first, served in an iron skillet. It takes me approximately one bite to decide that I'll be coming back to this place. A lot.
The mix of pork loin, crackling and belly gives the meat a perfect combination of textures from tender to crisp. The bitterness of the rapini offsets the fennel flavour of the meat and just enough garlic aioli stops the ciabatta bread from being remotely dry.
My friend's classic burger with fries ($9) ups the ante even more. As it was his second pick he wasn't particularly excited by it but the burger is thick, juicy and perfectly cooked. House made ketchup and mayonnaise make it even better and the fries are crisp without being brittle.
The Caprese sandwich ($9) is equally impressive. The melted mozzarella filling is smothered with tomato jam, basil and encased in warm ciabatta.
Pretty soon we're all switching skillets, keen to try everything coming out of the kitchen.
We're pretty full by the time the fried chicken combo ($12) arrives but the anticipation is so great that we go ahead anyway. The chicken is marinated in buttermilk for hours before cooking and it shows. The meat is unbelievably succulent while the batter stays crunchy and surprisingly light despite the oiliness.
Even someone that only ever orders chicken wings to chase beer pitchers should try the fried chicken here. It's really that good.
I'll definitely be back soon for one of the rib nights (currently limited to Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays). The whole pit smoked BBQ chicken special doesn't stand a chance.