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Restaurants

Triple A Bar

Posted by Alexandra Grigorescu / Reviewed on October 10, 2012 / review policy

triple a bar torontoTriple A Bar opened up just over a week ago, and I'd dearly loved its previous incarnation as Laide. For this reason, I went prepared to dislike it (expecting a change in keeping with the increasingly condo-ified neighbourhood), but even from the outside, it looks inviting.

Unsurprisingly, Triple A already has regulars, and many of them are leftovers from Laide's 10-year run who know managers Racquel Youtzy and Tiz Pivetta (who also managed Laide) by name.

triple a bar torontoWhy the shift to Triple A? "I got pregnant," Youtzy tells me, with an irrepressible smile, "and I had the best baby in the world." When it came time to return to work, she felt the need for something new; namely, to open up a comfortable neighbourhood restaurant and bar. "Tiz likes themes," Youtzy says and they settled on a Southern one. Within ten minutes of arriving and settling into a large back booth, we immediately lament that Triple A hadn't been transplanted closer to our neck of the woods.

Inside, you'll find a space entirely stripped of its former, borderline seedy appeal. What's left is an all-wood motif (dark, scuffed and convincing as a down-south saloon), with a long bar in the middle, high-and-low-table seating, and several intimate, leather-lined booths.

triple a bar torontoThe lighting is dim, and provided almost exclusively by low-hanging, stand-alone bulbs. The few instances of brick are painted black, and a quote covers one wall: "Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk; that'll teach you to keep your mouth shut," courtesy of the alcoholic bard himself, Hemingway. Black and white photos round out the well-worn atmosphere.

Seeing the selection of bourbon and tequila over the bar, I order a bourbon sour ($7), and it's spot-on. They're sold out of Creemore on our visit, but it's been replaced by Beau's Lug Tread ($7). Thanks to their direct draw taps (which has caused a bit of a delay with their draught beer), it tastes fresh and, I kid you not, better than usual.

triple a bar torontoTheir food follows from their decor: Southern BBQ, smoked off-site. "Instead of pub food, we offer this food," Youtzy tells me. I'm a bit taken aback by its presentation. Arriving in molded tupperware-style containers lined with wax paper, the carb of choice is Wonder Bread. Yes, that Wonder Bread best known from crustless tuna sandwiches of yore. "It's not fancy," Youtzy says, "just soft and fabulous." I'd like to say that my palate is too sophisticated to enjoy this, but I love a nice, soft bread. Youtzy tells me that this is how it's served in Austin, Texas, and that piece upon piece meat is hunked down in front of you.

triple a bar torontoI choose a sweet creamed corn as a side for my pulled pork sandwich ($12), which arrives on a small WonderBread bun (almost a bloated slider), and is first smoked, then cooked, then mixed in its own jus, and topped with coleslaw. Again, it's a simple sandwich--especially to a lover of condiments such as myself--but the pulled pork is remarkably tender and moist, and in the end, needs no adornments.

triple a bar torontoFor the smoked beef brisket ($15), we choose spicy coleslaw: crunchy, not too creamy, with just the right amount of spice to offset the richness of the brisket (which also arrives with two slices of WonderBread). It's a chance you take with brisket in general--some pieces are drier than others, but they all retain the essence of oak, over which they're smoked.

The prices are a bit steep--not for the quality of the food, but more for the portion size. We ordered fairly modestly, expecting heaps of meat, but three dishes for two people will do the trick without filling you up too much.

triple a bar torontoThe Texas chili ($14) is the exception to this. The dish is not chili in the traditional sense (no beans); served with tortilla chips (which are replenished as needed) it's more of a dip-by-way-of-stew, brimming with spices, tender beef, and topped with a dollop of sour cream. It gives off a manageable, but blush-inducing bit of kick from it's considerable helping of ancho chilies. First, we scoop out what can be scooped with forks, and then we nurse what's left well into the night-they try several times to collect it, and we very nearly slap their hands away.

triple a bar torontoThere was an instant sense of camaraderie (something about the honky-tonk and blues music brought back memories of a winter trip to Louisiana) that had me asking, what's next? Although there are no plans to expand the menu, they will maintain a rotating special. There are also murmurings of another venture from Youtzy, somewhere in the east-end.

Exterior shot courtesy of Triple A Bar

Discussion

31 Comments

lauren / October 10, 2012 at 09:06 am
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i'm all for unpretentious presentation, but wax paper seems incredibly wasteful
Ken / October 10, 2012 at 09:22 am
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Indeed, the food looks to be presented and served very simply, but do seem rather steep at their current prices. Understandably, smoking is a time-intensive process, but the wonderbread and tupperware really do cheapen the feel of the place.
There certainly seems to be a growing number of smokehouses in Toronto though, that's a good thing.
mayor dodge replying to a comment from Ken / October 10, 2012 at 09:30 am
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Yes, there certainly seems to be a growing number of smokehouses in Toronto, and that's where my friends and I will be going, instead of a place that's far too lame and lazy to use dishes, like establishments that don't give you the feel of an abandoned factory. Triple 'eh' bore, LOL.
Brandon / October 10, 2012 at 09:47 am
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Yeah, this place sounds ridiculous and lazy. If they're going to serve white bread, they could at least bake it themselves. I think I'll wait until the new BBQ place opens at Manning/Harbord instead.
AV / October 10, 2012 at 10:18 am
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I guess some of you have never been to Memphis or Kansas for BBQ. White "wonder-bread" is a staple and these guys are paying due respect to tradition. Sorry that its not an hand baked artisanal sage loaf but I believe, far from being cheap, they're trying to be authentic.

Also I have no vested interested in this place one way or another, just had to share.
Smashville / October 10, 2012 at 10:34 am
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Anywhere that plays country and the blues and seems like a honky tonk is good enough for me.

Ive been to Nashville a few times and any of the honky tonks along Broadway serve the food the exact same way. Its a good homage to how it is about down in TN. Obviously you cant recreate a Tootsies or The Stage, but its a fun idea nonetheless.

Looking forward to stopping in sometime soon!
smoky replying to a comment from AV / October 10, 2012 at 10:37 am
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Yup! It's about the meat, and plain white bread is the vehicle of choice for that smoked goodness.
matt / October 10, 2012 at 11:07 am
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"The dish is not chili in the traditional sense (no beans); "

traditional chili has no beans. try to put them in a texan's chili. i dare you.
jameson / October 10, 2012 at 11:12 am
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you can't just transplant something and expect it to work...and then when people complain write off the criticism as not appreciating the authenticity of it
Alex replying to a comment from matt / October 10, 2012 at 11:15 am
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Oh, to be Texan...

:)
Terry / October 10, 2012 at 11:42 am
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The prices do seem a bit steep. Are they comparable with what you'd pay in the southern states .
AV replying to a comment from matt / October 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm
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Funny you mentioned that.. the World Chili Cook-Off is actually allowing bean-based entries for the first time this year:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/01/world-chili-cook-off-beans_n_1928450.html
keven replying to a comment from AV / October 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm
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You might have a point if this wasn't a TEXAS BBQ JOINT
AV replying to a comment from keven / October 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm
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Dude, travel a bit and culture yourself. Sorry I didn't SPECIFICALLY STATE that Texas BBQ should be included. But, for the record, it should be:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbecue_in_Texas

"Slices of packaged white bread are often included with the barbecue."
Bobby replying to a comment from keven / October 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm
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Sorry keven that is how they do it in Austin Texas as well wonder bread and wax paper: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4135/4753803742_8ea81586d6.jpg
Bobby replying to a comment from Bobby / October 10, 2012 at 12:40 pm
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Sorry that picture is from Rudys in Austin, it woudl not let me put in a link to the site...
Roctop / October 10, 2012 at 01:03 pm
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"the pulled pork is remarkably tender and moist" Am I ever glad to read that. Too many so-called BBQ pits intentionally dry the pork out to the extent that you feel like you are eating seasoned kindling, then hawk some of their home-swilled sauces on you. Bravo to the chef at Triple A Bar for doing things right.
hpo / October 10, 2012 at 02:17 pm
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This place looks too fancy for traditional Texas barbecue and all the surprises (Wonderbread, wax paper, lack of beans in chili) the reviewer experienced shouldn't have been surprises had they done just a little research on Texas barbecue beforehand.
keven replying to a comment from AV / October 10, 2012 at 02:34 pm
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Telling me to culture myself by travelling to Texas is fucking funny bro. Say it again!!!

I also didn't say anything about white bread - white bred.

The sentence I had issue with was:
"I guess some of you have never been to Memphis or Kansas for BBQ"

Sorry, thanks for coming out. You obvs know NOTHING about BBQ in either one of these three places.

Tomatoes and vinegar don't mix, so you're just takin' the piss .
Lxpatterson / October 11, 2012 at 07:04 pm
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Served with silly things plastic bags? How vile! Not even a GI in normandy had to endure such an indignity.
Really? Seriously? / October 12, 2012 at 01:05 am
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Wow.

Eating slices of white WonderBread out of **tupperware** in a place that looks scarier than a cellar in a horror film...and I bet I'd have to pay a hefty fee for the privilege of doing it.

"Authentic" or not...no thanks.
Jona / October 12, 2012 at 11:36 pm
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As opposed to the 21 people before me I decided to actually go to AAA before I commented on how it was (I figured this was better then to judge it via pictures taken & one bloggers opinion).

I popped by Thursday after work and was one of the first people there. The space is bigger than it looks in the pictures and rustic without being "cheezy country".. The bartender told me that the owners did all of the renos themselves even as far as making their own tables. I had a pint of Lug Tread from Beaus, they had 7 beers on tap mostly mainstream / local steamwhistle, tankhouse mill st organic etc...

The staff was friendly and not the young kids or hipsters most places hire they were what you would expect to find in a neighborhood place. By the time I got my food other people were starting to come in. It seemed to be a mix of people who knew the staff and locals from the area everything from guys in suits to a couple with a young child.

I decided to go with the brisket. I am not sure what the reviewer was thinking but the portion was not small, they said they give 1/2 pound and I believe it, I could hardly finish it with the slide of spicy coleslaw. It was rich and smokey and tender. Some peices were not a juicy as others but by no means dry and still tender.

I wish people would actually visit a restaurant before commenting on it as many things are different in person that what they appear as in pictures.
Hopeful / October 16, 2012 at 02:43 am
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Found the brisket a touch too dry for my tastes (could have been an off day?), and even though they are trying to be authentic, I really would have appreciated at least the choice of some other kinds of bread. Didn't really like the presentation with the plastic containers and wax paper, but maybe I'm too old to appreciate this "hipster" kind of approach to things. :) Liked the bar itself, though.

I'd give it another shot if they were to get a more expansive menu, maybe. Wish them success, in any case.
Acon / October 19, 2012 at 06:19 am
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The presentation looks like prison food!
Amrg / November 17, 2012 at 08:24 pm
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I've dropped in a few times and love it. As laid back as you can get, and no strings attached. $3 tequilas, chicken and waffles, and friendly patrons. Not sure how you can possibly have anything bad to say about the joint. A welcome addition to the area
Rob / July 23, 2013 at 11:53 pm
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AAA was just voted best Ribs in Toronto by Post City Magazine in a blind taste test. Chef Grant van Gameren (original chef from the Black Hoof) was the Judge.
Dr Drum Review / August 8, 2013 at 10:17 am
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Hi to every one, the contents present at this web page are really remarkable for people knowledge,
well, keep up the nice work fellows.
Justxpete / February 5, 2014 at 12:21 pm
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To the people complaining about Wonderbread and Wax Paper.

That IS Texas and Southern BBQ.

Just be glad they aren't serving it on cafeteria trays.

JG#2 / July 17, 2014 at 09:55 pm
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I just went for the first time. Loved the brisket and the BBQ sauce. Had the ribs. They were good but were a little over done...but would go back again. Corn on the cob was good and so was the Mac and cheese. The staff were very friendly and nice. I am just a guy who went out with an old friend. Not sure why everyone so negative. Prices were fine. And across the street in St. James Park was a jazz band playing...all in all, a fantastic night.
betty / July 26, 2014 at 08:18 pm
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does anybody have the phone number to call triple A restaurent
Rob replying to a comment from betty / July 28, 2014 at 11:37 am
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Phone number is at the top right of this page as well as the website address: 416.850.2726

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