Even before Tom Davis opened his now famous "Stockyards" Restaurant on St Clair West, I began following his progress thanks to a Chowhound post and a link to his catering blog.
The Stockyards bills itself as a "modern day interpretation of the family diner/ BBQ joint". It features the city's BEST Fried Chicken, fantastic ribs available only on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays (and get there quick b/c these things sell like perfectly smoked hotcakes) and a couple of fantastic Sandwiches.
The Deli Duel
While I had been there several times already, my first exposure to The Stockyards Pastrami (which was sold out during my first four visits), was at The Stop's Deli Duel, pitting three of Toronto's best Smoked Meat Sandwiches:
First up was likely favourite and Rye-Toast of the Deli-Town, Caplansky's
For my impression of Caplansky's, see volume 2 of my deli guide
Next up was Goldin's Smoked Meat. I first heard of Goldin Smoked Meat from some wowed reviewers on chowhound. Originally, the Goldin brothers sold their meats only via a mail-order system where you could purchase the meat cryo-vacuumed, and you would be instructed to re-steam it yourself.
(Source: user duckdown on Redflagdeals.com)
I ordered the Goldin's Smoked Meat Sandwich at Free Times and was very disappointed. While the meat had great flavour and spice, it was very poorlycut and clearly hadn't been properly resteamed. While I wanted to love the Sandwich, I found myself very put-off my chunks of meat that were so dry they tasted like Smoked Meat Slim-Jim:
When I got to the Duel, I noticed that the Goldin Bros themselves were manning the stand and I found myself eating an entirely different product: You can tell just how much jucier this Sandwich was then at free times:
When properly cut (by hand, with good thickness and a nice balance of meat to fat) , Goldin's Meat was meltingly tender with the same great spicing and flavour profile that reminded me a lot of Snowdon Deli in Montreal. Like most other Toronto Delis, it was served on Silverstein's Rye
Free Times Version - 4/10 Opas
Smoked Meat Duel Version - 8.5/10 Opas
The Final Stop at the Deli Duel was at The Stockyards
The Pastrami had a strong sense of smokiness and had some excellent spicing but unfortunately there was simply not enough of this delicious pastrami for me to really sink my teeth into it.
So a couple of days later I rounded up my Sandwich-friends Jeremy and Natalie and headed out to the Stockyards with Pastrami on my mind. I should note that I called ahead to ensure that they had pastrami in stock as I have been disappointed in the past.
Jeremy and myself ordered the Pastrami while Natalie skillfully went with porchetta and a sauteed rabe add-on (From the website - "Fennel and garlic scented pork loin, belly and cracklings served on a baguette with garlic aioli"...)
The Pastrami featured the same rich smokey taste and reminded me of the smokiness in some of Zane's earlier briskets. It had a great texture with sufficient amounts of both tender and chew in each bite. Occasionally some bites felt a bit overpowering in terms of spice but overall a very good Sandwich.
What really blew me away at The Stockyards was the Porchetta. The Porchetta sandwich, which is seemingly experience a renaissance (due to Porchetta-only Sandwich shops in NYC and Toronto).
Every single aspect of this Sandwich worked elegantly together:
- the Pork was extremely tender. Using different parts of the pig (loin, belly, cracklings) gave a fantastic layered taste.
- the rabe was an amazing addition. The rabe added some much needed garlic (despite its presence in the aioli) and just a hint of bitterness that really paired well with the creamy aioli. Also the rabe gave a good snap/crunch to the Sandwich
- this was a rare case where I felt a Baugette served its roll (get it) prefectly as a Sandwich Conduit, it was soft on the inside with a nice crust too it. Very little Sandwich spill off was observed.
While I was mowing down on the Sandwiches, a photographer from Toronto Life asked my group if we were willing to be in some picutres for the magazine's guide to St. Clair W. When she asked, I immeadietly was struck by the notion of Canwiches getting some shine in a traditional media source.
Unfortunately we didn't make the final cut, but after some emails, to Jessica Darmin the extremely talented photographer, I managed to get some copies to share with you all. I think they truly give a sense of the full-body experience I give in reviewing all these deli-licious Sandwiches:
Overall Impression of the Stockyards: 9.5/10 extremely smoky Opas!