A friend that I had not seen in months wanted to meet for dinner on a Sunday evening. He loves meat, so I suggested we do BBQ for dinner. Normally I would go to a restaurant that I know will be good, like Smoque N’ Bones (review here) on Queen West, but on this particular evening, I was feeling under the weather, so I wanted to go to a restaurant closer to my apartment. After doing some research, I decided to give Smoke Bourbon Bar-B-Q House a try. Though the reviews were mixed, there have been times when I have loved a restaurant that got mixed reviews—or so I tried to tell myself.
When I arrived at 6pm for dinner and saw the deserted restaurant, alarm bells went off. I told the gentleman who greeted me at the door that I had a reservation (not that I needed one since at that time I had the whole place to myself), he looked in a book and then went to speak to a second gentleman in the kitchen, and I heard the second gentleman say to the first, “it’s okay, you can sit her.” Huh? It’s okay to sit me? I made a reservation, so why do you think you are going out of your way to accommodate me?
Anyway, I sat at the back (I did not want to go home smelling like BBQ), and browsed through the menu. Several minutes later my friend arrived, followed by a large party. Slowly but surely, the restaurant started to fill-up—not all the way, but almost 50% of it now had patrons. I told my friend that I thought we should share the Sampler for 2 for $36. The sampler came with three meats and 2 sides. It sounded like a great deal. So my friend and I reviewed our options and decided on the items we wanted to order. However, when we told the waitress our choices, she said that we could not choose from all the mains, only from the ones with an asterisk. Mmmm, I did not read that anywhere on the menu. So we settled on the pulled pork, brisket, baby back ribs, waffle fries and macaroni and cheese. I did not bother with a drink because their beer options were pathetic. Can’t remember the last time I visited a restaurant with such few, and crappy beer options.
We received our food within 20 minutes, and when the food arrived, our waitress took a moment to explain the differences between their BBQ sauces (they give you a basket/box with an array of sauces). Once she left, we quickly grabbed a rib. We both took a bite and looked at each other in confusion. Did they put sugar on the ribs? As in, raw sugar as a rub? Not even caramelized? Disgusting! All we could taste was sugar — granules of sugar! So we went on to the brisket. Oh lord, it was worse than the rib—it had absolutely no seasoning–completely bland. With apprehension we moved on to the pulled pork, and were relieved by the fact that the sauce was not “all sugar” and that it had flavor! I tried to salvage the brisket by coating it in sauces, but it was no use. And to make matters worse (can it get any worse?), the sauces—all 4, had a sweet undertone. My guess is that the chef and/or owner (whoever calls the shots) really loves their desserts.
The only saving grace were their waffle fries and macaroni and cheese. So we ordered a second round of waffle fries and munched on those while our meats sat in the corner, completely abandoned. When we finished our sides, our waitress came around and asked if we wanted to take the meat to go. I told her our concerns with the food—aka, we were unhappy with them because if it was not bland, it was swimming in sugar. She apologized and stated that she would talk to the chef. 20 minutes later and we had not heard anything from her. So we asked for the bill. She came back a few minutes later with our bill, and we were charged full price for everything. I don’t know what I was expecting, but usually when I receive terrible food, they either
- a) Offer to get us something else
- b) Give us some type of discount
- c) Apologize
- d) CARE!
So here we sat, staring at the bill wondering where the hell our food went. What if I wanted to give the leftovers to my dog (which I would not—I am not that evil!)? I couldn’t believe it! We ate maybe 25% of our food; our waitress then takes it away seemingly to address our concerns, and returns with a bill and no explanation! So I asked her to please return the pulled pork, the only edible meat we received that night. And hell, we paid for it!