What started a couple years ago as a catering and retail spot featuring brisket and other delectable smoked fare, evolved into the new Uncle Smoke Cookhouse.
Chris Patheiger and Aidan Galligan’s authentic Southern wood-fire barbecue experience is like nothing else in the city. At first glance, it might look like your typical comfort food of barbecue meats and sides. But this made-from-scratch fare using high quality, local ingredients, is the most refined smoked food in the city.
This sure ain’t your typical barbecue.
Chef Aidan Galligan was born in the 6ix but raised in St. Louis, Missouri, so the traditional BBQ of St. Louis – spare ribs, pork shoulder, etc. – are second nature. But thanks to his passion, talent and experience (working at renowned London restaurants The Ivy and Le Caprice; three years at Boulud Sud in NYC, then Café Boulud in Toronto – just two of Chef Daniel Boulud’s many fine restaurants), his food is more sophisticated and polished than most ’cue. There’s a quiet elegance to everything he makes.
No matter what you order – ribs, pork, brisket, whole chicken, or brats – nothing is dripping in fat or grease, or cloying with smoke either, yet packed with flavour. Cooked low and slow in the Southern Pride smoker outside, letting the ingredients speak for themselves (e.g. brisket gets just a salt-and-pepper rub), sourcing food in season, are just part of the elements of what make it stand out from the crowd. Classic sides of baked beans ($4/$7), crispy potatoes ($7), slaw ($4/$7), and skillet corn bread (wedge $2, skillet $9) are just as drool-inducing.
You can order items à la carte ($2-$15), by the plate ($12-$30), sandwich + side ($12), half pound ($10-$13) and platters ($35-$95). Daily specials are what you’d expect at a finer restaurant, so don’t be surprised when Chef Galligan’s creations floor you.
There are also more items that aren’t BBQ to come (hence the name smokehouse), so expect items like Fish and Chips and Chicken Pot Pie to make their way onto the menu soon.
Be sure to stock up on fresh Gooey Butter Squares ($2 ea., a St. Louis specialty, often referred to as “crack pie”) and Arlene Lott’s next-level desserts. There’s also a retail shop onsite, where you can purchase take-home rubs, sauces and other prepared foods such as soups, stews and stocks, as well as bread and, come autumn, pickled produce.
There’s no booze, as it’s mostly a takeout joint (there are just nine seats) and no plan for licensing. But there’s great coffee (Propeller $2/$2.75), tea (Pluck $2.75), water ($1.50), Sanpellegrino ($2), regular pop ($1.50) and a variety of The Pop Shoppe ($2.50) available.
Fixtures & Fittings
The former KFC is just 700 square feet, but it has a nice divide of seating on street level, with counter, retail shop and kitchen just a few stairs above.
The fast casual restaurant was completely gutted. The only thing kept was the floor. All new furniture, new ceiling and the kitchen got tripled in size.
The rustic furnishings are an eclectic blend of antiques and local artwork. Patheiger says, “You don’t spend a long time here, but it feels good. Has a vibe to it.”
Off the Menu
Fried Chicken ($12) Succulent meat surrounded by a crunchy, crispy coating, stacked with lettuce, onions, tomato and a poblano mayo with a hint of citrus (and build-up of heat that’s intoxicating) on a on semi-brioche bun, made in-house. What are you waiting for?
Crispy Potatoes ($7) Wedges (!) are crispy outside, soft inside, with good beefy flavour (confit in beef fat). No one does wedges anymore. And their creamy meatiness pairs well with anything on the menu.
Two Meat + 3 Sides ($20) Beef Brisket It’s no wonder their 18-hour smoked brisket is famous – full-bodied flavour, but not all that fatty, with great char crust and smoke that never overwhelms.
Pulled Pork A great combo of tender meat with just a titch of vinegar for brightness and creamy slaw finished with a fresh burst of mint.
1 lb. Ribs + 1 Side ($17 for 4) Soft, chewy, with just a hint of sticky sweetness. Perfect. Potato salad delivers the right ratio of creaminess with good heat from dijon.
1 lb. Wings + 1 Side ($15) Lightly smoked then crisped in the fryer, you can still taste the BBQ rub. Juicy and not spicy, these wings are mighty addictive.
Special: Spring Vegetable Salad ($10) A sophisticated salad that shows off Galligan’s fine French technique – the combination of peas, carrots, squash, radish, tomatoes, corn, pickled fennel, salted beef, cornbread croutons on bean base, with light vinaigrette dressing – will leave you gobsmacked.
Cookhouse Cobb ($12) A mighty portion of deliciousness, courtesy of smoked chicken, egg, bacon, olives, tomatoes, feta, avocado, croutons and red wine vinaigrette.
Blackout Cupcake You need this black cocoa cake with creamy chocolate buttercream and chocolate cookie crunch, filled with sour cherry. ’Nuff said.
The dining area accommodates nine guests. Takeout, delivery and catering are available.
At the Stove: Aidan Galligan
Head Honchos: Chris Patheiger and Aidan Galligan
Map it: 2285 Dundas St. W. (at Bloor)
Visiting Hours: Tuesday to Saturday – 11:30 am to 9 pm
Phone it in: 416-901-3663
How Cool is This?! All meats are gluten-free, as are many of the sides.
And despite their massive size, platters come out of the kitchen in less than 10 minutes. Feeding the fam has never been easier. Or quicker.
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