Smokin' Bones, at Dundas and Dalhousie, is run by Orlando de Cunha - a comfort food crusader who's looking to bring classic southern dishes to Toronto. Who doesn't love comfort food? It's usually warm, rich and full of artery-clogging goodness. I guess your heart might not love it, but every once in a while you need to stop listening to those pushy arteries and just eat some ribs.
The restaurant is currently a takeout-only affair, with the exception of stools and counter space for half a dozen customers. A delivery service is planned for the spring, which is good news for those of us who don't want to mix exercise with indulgent greasy food.
The menu features a variety of grilled meats, but I am assured by Orlando that Smokin' Bones is not strictly a barbeque spot. Indeed, the menu covers non-grilled dishes like chili, mac and cheese, meatloaf and fried chicken, with plans to add jambalaya and gumbo to the menu in the near future . Orlando has tested three recipes for Andouille sausage, but has yet to find one he's happy with.
I loaded up with as much food as can safely be carried in a paper bag and struck out into the cold, shielding my smoky cargo against the wind as I walked home. Cold is the Achilles heel of warm takeout food in the winter, so I'm hoping they get their delivery system sorted out soon.
When I got home, my dining companion and I tore into the food, leaving a trail of barbeque sauce and Styrofoam containers in our wake.
We started with the sides ($3 each). Mac and cheese was gooey, greasy and good. Baked beans were meaty and sweet - almost too sweet, but still satisfying. The potato salad was a basic, faithful rendition of the classic. The biscuits were top notch - flaky, chewy and moist - but the spongy corn bread was a bit of a letdown.
The pulled pork sandwich ($6, plus $1 for coleslaw on top) was excellent. Sloppy, but excellent. The meat is tender and tastes noticeably of grill smoke, while the house barbeque sauce and coleslaw add tanginess and crunch.
The corn chowder ($6) is deceptively named, as it actually has a TON of pulled chicken in it, and not all that much corn flavour. Then again, maybe that's what I get for ordering corn soup in January.
I'm not usually a huge fan of baby back ribs. The ratio of effort to food obtained just never seemed worth it to me. This half rack ($12) however, won me over. The meat was tender enough to fall off the bone, and was bathed in a really tasty spicy barbeque sauce with a moderate kick and dangerous addiction potential.
It's still early days for Smokin' Bones and they have a ways to go before their operations and menu are polished, but if the quality of their barbeque is any indication of where they're headed, I'm looking forward to good things from Orlando and crew.