Thursday, February 26, 2009


I haven't posted on my blog in over three months now. Where the hell did three months go anyway? It slipped by fast! Anyway, I figured it was high time that I got back in the saddle again and I just hope I haven't lost anyone along the way by such a long lul in posting.

I've been a chef for quite a few years and most of my experience has been on the finer dining side of things. I say that because I in my earlier days I was a bit of a snob when it came to food and I have since come to appreciate all food for what it is. So in my reference to the finer side of dining, I guess I inadvertently acknowledge that which is not finer. But as I say, I have come to appreciate all food.

Lately, I've been watching a show on The FOOD Network called "Diners, Drive Ins and Dives." The show, hosted by Guy Fieri, revolves around food that is served up in some of the best diners in the United States.

The food that is featured on the show is pretty simple in comparison to what you would expect to find in high end restaurants. You'll see dishes like meatloaf, pot roast, braised short ribs, burgers, ribs, know...DINER FOOD! Simple, home-style cooking. But the places featured do it the best, and what I like about the show is that it shows how these places have refined their systems and their recipes over the years and how the consistency of what they do has made them successful. And a lot of the time it's the lined up out the door kind of successful.

I think it was Anthony Bourdin who said, "Anyone can grill a steak, but it takes real skill to braise the shit out of a tough piece of meat and transform it into a masterpiece." It was something like that anyway. But he's right, and that's why I have become interested in home-style cooking lately. There is a lot of skill required to prepare the simplest of dishes properly no matter how commonplace.

As you may remember from my summer posts, I enjoy barbecuing. (Who doesn't besides the "barbecuing is carcinogenic" whiners, right?) And because I have such a fondness for good barbecue, I have to take notice when I see someone who has mastered the art and made a successful business out of it. Such a place is Phil's Original BBQ on College Street.

I have been passing Phil's Original BBQ for a year now ever since I moved to Toronto from BC. I never really thought it looked like much from the outside, but for some reason I always thought I would like to eat there some day. I finally took the opportunity a couple of weeks ago on the spur of the moment after work on a Friday evening.

First of all...the place was packed! I was surprised at how busy it was. I also couldn't help noticing that the smell of smoke filled the room and there was a pretty loud murmer of people talking and laughing as they enjoyed their food. Talk about an attack on the senses!

The decor is pretty cool, but to me something felt out of place about it. It wasn't what I'd choose for a BBQ joint, but then again, who the hell am I? I did like the fact that place was tidy and clean. That's a good quality when food is the product being sold in my book!

I ordered the combo plate which consisted of 1/4 chicken, some brisken and a few ribs. It came with baked beans and cole slaw. Nothing fancy here!

All I can say is, "Wow!" This was really exceptional grub! The beans were so good that I couldn't believe it. Seriously. No, really. Now, I'm no bean expert, but the flavor in these beans blew me away because I wasn't expecting them to be that good. The smokiness...the sweetness and the tanginess worked together like a dance in my mouth. I think it was the Tango!

Next up was the brisket. I'm not even going to go there because it was...too good! It was mind blasting!

The ribs...well...they were almost as good as the brisket in my book and to date are the best ribs I have ever eaten in a restaurant.

The chicken way okay. I found it to be the least impressive but it was still really well prepared and tasty.

The big thing at Phil's is the fact that they smoke all of their meats before they are finished on the grill with their signiture sauces. The smoke is intense in the flavor of everything I had and is really what makes barbecue what it is. Without the smoke, your just grilling kid!

Anyway, Phil's seems to have the reputation of being the best Barbecue in Toronto. I can't argue with that because it's the only barbecue I have had here. It may even be the only real barbecue I have had anywhere. But best in Toronto or not, Phil's is killer good and you have to try it if you have the chance.

Here is a link to Phil's Original BBQ:


Expressions by MBG said...

Hi Mark ... how on earth did you find this place?

I have to say that having worked on College (in my "younger" days) ... there are quite a few "hidden treasures" when it comes to restaurants in that area ...

Must try it ... as we also love our BBQ ...


Livingston Cooks said...

Hey Kid!

How have you been? It's been a while, huh? I hope you're all healthy and happy.

I'm happy to hear from you!

I found this place through Lola. She told me about it because Phil's has been around for a while and she heard that the food is good. I have been driving past it since I arrived in Ontario and finally decided to go in for dinner.

Actually, we just went back again on Friday. We had the rib dinner this time. We also tried the Hush Puppies.

The ribs were very good and the beans were killer.

The hush puppies were truly horrible - deep-fried Quenelles of corn batter served with a sauce. They were crunchy on the outside and doughy in the middle. All I can say is I don't recommend them.

Talk soon!