Monday, October 29, 2012

Smmmokin’


StackYou’ve probably heard this story before. Boy’s father is in the restaurant business, eventually boy opens up his own restaurant. Well, meet Bill Panos. The son of a restaurateur he opened up his own place with his wife. Unfortunately for Bill, being a franchisee meant doing things one way and one way only. The corporate shackles just didn’t work for him.

Stack2Armed with a love for and knowledge of food, Bill went into business with Todd Savage. Eyeballing the burgeoning smashed burger market in the GTA they found a spot and set up shop. Freed up from the constraints of a chain restaurant Bill and Todd filled out the menu as they saw fit. The result was Stack Smmmoked. Basically, a slightly upscale sandwich shop, which just happens to have a smoker. Burgers, tacos and BBQ round out the menu as well as donuts and shakes.

What first put this place on my radar was the S’mores Donuts. My friend Abbey raved about them on her blog. So when the Smashed Burger Showdown came about, Stack made the itinerary. We purposely placed it as the anchor so we could finish with the donuts for dessert. What I found when I got there was a really terrific restaurant with a dedicated and enthusiastic owner. 

InteriorThe uptown restaurant has a bistro meets sports bar look with plenty of seating and some flat screens sprinkled in, in a clean, modern space. The feel though is more laid back. Reflecting the owners. There’s murals on the wall and it even has an upstairs. The two tops beside the window up there look to be great seats. There's also a small patio out front. Downstairs, in front of the kitchen you’ll find the smoker. It has its own room and is vented outside so you don’t get that great smoker/meat aroma that so many great BBQ joints have. Sigh.

In the kitchen they use top quality ingredients from right here in Ontario and craft them into some tasty food. They also tinker. Constantly trying to improve their wares. With dedication like that you can rest assured that what comes out of there is first rate. Not just slapped together, jumping on a craze.

So let’s have a look shall we??

Fresh-Cut FriesStack fresh cuts their fries in house every morning. That’s nice but if you don’t do things right, you’re better off with a good frozen fry. Too many places use the wrong potato, don’t cook them long enough or fail in some other way. Not Stack. A good size, nicely crisp and lightly salted. Perfect for those who like ‘em a little less salty. Easily salted for those who love ‘em salty. These fries are simply great. Some of the best. They also can be had with BBQ seasoning on them.

Mac n CheeseI'm a big fan of the Mac n Cheese. This is not likely to bring about some noodle epiphany, being a typical old school, creamy example but that's perfectly fine. It's served in a small cast iron skillet and topped with bread crumbs. I found it slightly loose (soupy) but that's probably more a preference thing. Typically that would make it watery but not so in this case. It had a good cheese taste that was nicely rounded. The pasta wasn't over cooked either. Al dente the way it should be.

BurgerBack in June during the Showdown they produced a good burger but it wasn't without it's flaws. Most notably, the bun. Well that old bun is gone. Replaced with a gorgeous poppy seed burger bun from Ace Bakery. The gind on the burger seems a bit better as well. The result is a fantastic sandwich. Their smashed burger 2.0 can rightfully take it's place with the likes of Burger's Priest, Holy Chuck and Stockyards now. I got the simple Applewood Smoked Bacon Cheeseburger.  I'm a believer that a smashed burger needs American cheese but for those who hate the stuff, this is for you. They use real cheddar on it. The bacon gets a second go ‘round on their smoker so it’s extra good. It's juicy, tasty and as you can see, pretty photogenic with that bun. 

Pulled Pork w Lexington BBQ SauceThey do a really  nice Pulled Pork. Normally served in a sandwich, this sample shows the nice barque and smoke ring. It’s very piggy, nicely smoked and quite simply, great as is.
The accompanying Lexington Vinegar Sauce was very nice but totally unnecessary. This stuff just didn’t need it.

Brisket w Chipotle~Jack Daniels SauceThe Brisket is some of the best I’ve had. Very moist, tender, smoky, beefy and with a magnificent crust. It had just enough fat on it as well. Again, usually in sandwich form but here for photographic and sampling purposes.
The Chipotle/Jack Daniels BBQ Sauce was really good but again, this meat didn’t need it.

Smoked Chicken w Peruvian Pepper SauceAn “Airline Breast” is, in the restaurant biz, a breast with a wing (or part there of) still attached. Here we have it smoked and slathered with a Peruvian Pepper Sauce. OMG this is incredible. The meat on its own is very moist, tender and smoky but the sauce just kicks it up another couple levels. Best chicken breast in the city.

Smoked Meat SandwichI just really can’t say enough about the Smoked Meat Sandwich. Plain and simple, it’s incredible. NOT Montreal Smoked Meat but an homage to it, at Stack they use their own spice blend, brine and then smoke it in the same manner as MSM. This tastes more like a heavily smoked, overly tender, juicy ham. (Yes I know it's cow and not pig but that's what it reminds me of) It comes on rye bread with regular mustard but Bill tells me he’s looking to bring in Keen’s. The ultimate mustard for smoked meat sandwiches in my humble opinion. Hard to believe this could get any better.

There's a donut maker in the kitchen and you can have them in a number of different ways. All served in a cone shaped vessel.
I’ve had the pleasure of trying a few of them plain. (Well, dusted with cinnamon sugar that is). To be honest, they really don’t need any sprucing up other than that. Slightly crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. There's sometimes no better way to enjoy something than au natural.  But if you like all the fixin's......
Strawberry DonutsThe "Strawberry" is simply the donuts with strawberry sauce and whipped cream. While I would never in a million years think that these could outdo the Rocky Road donuts, I may be willing to concede it may be a toss up as to which is better.
S'mores DonutsThe "Rocky Road" donuts are incredible. Crumbled graham cracker crumbs, whipped cream, toasted marshmallows and chocolate sauce dress these babies up beautifully. Every bit as good as they look. There's a decadence to them however they're not too "Over the top."
Oreo donuts 
The “Oreo” donuts  are certainly the best in my books. Crumbled Oreos, whipped cream and vanilla sauce these babies are just incredible. If you love Oreos, you’ll love these.

You can find Stack Smmmoked at 3265 Yonge St in Toronto.


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You can also find them on the web, facebook and Twitter.

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Well that's all for now folks, see ya next time in the food court.

Davwud

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