Chainsmoker aims to get a piece of Toronto’s barbecue scene, but using a scaleable model open to expansion.
Meats are smoked and slow-cooked on site, closer to a South Carolina style of barbecue than a Texas model, everything made in-house.
This humble spot is the first Chainsmoker location, more of a fast casual family joint than a darkened smokehouse for sipping whisky, but it is indeed licensed. The partially open kitchen provides a peek at meats getting loaded onto trays lined with butcher paper.
Smoked chicken wings are sold by weight like most items for $12 per pound. Again, like mostly everything here, they’re smoked on site, and tossed in your choice of a mild or hot house barbecue sauce, or you can keep your wings unsauced.
Braised beef ribs go for $18 for each individual bone, which the tender seven to eight ounces of dry-aged triple-A meat slide off of easily.
Smoked meat ($16 per half pound) is an homage to the neighbourhood, brined for five to seven days, given a peppercorn-based marinade, smoked for several hours and slow-cooked overnight. The fatty meat seems like it would work well in the sandwich with a side that’s available during lunch.
Pulled pork is $5 per quarter pound, seasoned with a paprika-based dry rub and sent through the same process of several hours smoking and overnight slow-cooking. This is good moistened up with a little of the sauce that’s on the table, and also comes in a sandwich form for lunch as a bao.
Slaw ($4 for a small, $8 for a regular) is made with thinly shredded purple cabbage, a good cross between a vinegar and cream slaw.
Roasted brussel sprouts ($5/$10) are nicely crispy and caramelized, given a sweet glaze with some of the house barbecue sauce.
A mandarin orange spring mix salad ($5/$8) provides a bit of lighter, juicer, more modern barbecue side.
Baked beans ($2/$4) are loaded with molasses, the sauce thick and the mix of beans and mushrooms chunky with a firm bite.
Jalapeno cornbread ($4) has a nice touch of heat and a good texture, made with real creamed corn (I also like the cute mini loaf shape).
There’s even a luscious citrus custard pie ($6) on Oreo crust, the tangy and rich flavours harmonizing well, top bruleed to a caramel crackle.
The creators of Chainsmoker had a direct hand in fast casual chain Tosto, which sets a precedent for similar expansion with this project including locations downtown and throughout Ontario.