Pulled Pork Sandwiches = AWESOME

A friend of mine sent me an article from the Toronto Star the other week about a new place that had opened up on St. Clair west that serves a mean pulled pork sandwich.  Slow cooked meat in BBQ sauce… I’m there!  My friend had access to a rental car on Saturday so we decided to make the “long” trek from downtown to St. Clair and Christie.  After navigating the ridiculous amount of construction on St. Clair we finally manage to find a place to park and began walking towards The Stockyards Smokehouse and Larder (I thought a Larder had something to do with lard which both excited my taste buds and caused me some mild anxiety about my arteries.  As it turns out a Larder is a storage place for food).  The place was a narrow shop with an open kitchen.  They took our order at the front desk, two pulled pork sandwiches and a side of fries.  I figure my friend and I should split the fries since after eating we were going to go out to buy big fat juicy steaks for a BBQ with some friends later that evening (I was about to put the Grill Master’s training to the test).  We sat in the back seating area which consisted of a counter with stools facing the wall or a counter with stools facing directly into the kitchen.  Here is the view:

vt - the stockyards0006.JPGWe waited about twenty minutes for our sandwiches.  There were a number of takeout orders ahead of us.  I didn’t mind the wait since I could watch the cooks at work.  I watched as they placed the bread buns on the grill to lightly crisp the surface.  I watched as they pulled the fries out of the fryer and threw them into a large metal bowl where they were tossed around and hand salted.  It was cool to see the salt flying up through the air and falling like a flurry of snow into the bowl.  You could hear a slight clinking of the fries against the metal hinting at the crispiness which was about to be enjoyed.  And then there was the pulled pork.  I watched as the pork simmered in a huge pan on a gas fire grill.  I watched the cooks toss the pork in the air and catch it back in the pan while dousing the mixture with their own BBQ sauce.  A breeze from the warm summer day blew through the front door cooling the place down but also worked to mix the heavenly smells together.  Our orders arrived in cast iron pans and we immediately dove in.  We both devoured our sandwiches in minutes only stopping to savour the flavor of the meat.  The pork had a great BBQ flavor and was ever so tender.  There was a bit of a zingyness or tangyness to the sauce that I can’t really put into words.  Coleslaw was served on top of the pork which was a nice touch.  The coolness balanced out the heat of the pork and the flavors blended together very nicely.  The crispiness of the coleslaw also added character to the sandwich.  Imagine biting through the soft bun, then your teeth hit crunchy coleslaw, they you hit the pulled pork and as you are working your way through the layers of pulled pork the BBQ juices shoot into your mouth.  My camera is out of order and my friend forgot his in the car so we couldn’t take a picture of the sandwich so I found one on the internet.

stockyards1After working through the sandwich, we began working on the large pile of fries.  My friend thought it was a little salty for his liking but I thought they were wonderful.  They reminded both of us of McDonald’s fries accept these were made from real potatoes and were crispier.  (I’m sure McDonald’s uses real potatoes but I like to joke that everything on their menu uses a small percentage of chinese newspaper to build the perception you are getting more bang for your buck).  Don’t get me wrong, I like McDonald’s, I was there for dinner on Friday, two can dine for $8.99 coupon.

As we walked out of The Stockyards we both agreed that the sandwich was excellent but a little small.  Had it not been for the side of fries, I think we both would have left hungry.  He asked me how it compared to the Black Camel, which up until this point was my hands down favorite pulled pork sandwich in the city.  Oh I should probably give some color around the sandwich at the Black Camel.  I heard about this place from various sources including a former coworker.  To date, this former coworker has never lead me astray when it comes to food (except Buddha Dog, I thought it was just okay).

I got off at the Rosedale subway station and was happy to find it was REALLY close to the subway station.  It was literally a stones throw away…  I tried.  Just kidding.  But the point I’m trying to make is that I’m lazy and enjoy it when my meals don’t require a lot of work to get to (like Belly Busters, that hill you have to climb from the subway station is ridiculous… or I’m grossly out of shape).

blackcamel

I walked into this nice little shop and walked to the back to order.  I ask the girl at the cash register what she recommends and she said the pulled pork sandwich with caramelized onions is popular and the beef brisket is also very good.  She mentioned that they were both slow cooked and very tender.  I had a bit of drool running down my face at this point so I cleaned myself up and ordered the pulled pork sandwich with caramelized onions.  The sandwich came and I unwrapped the foil.  This thing was huge!  The bread, a Portuguese bun, was oh so soft.  Man, I love bread!  The caramelized onions married with the taste of the pulled pork was delectable.  There were a few big chunks of pork that were a little dry but these were sparse.  Before leaving I noticed a small sign that was advertising a what I like to call “frequent eater” program.  Buy 10 sandwiches get the 11th free.  I walked back to the cashier and asked for one of these cards telling her that I would be back.  I haven’t made it to 10 yet but I still have the card and intend to keep using it.

black camel

So, when my friend asked me which I thought was better I told him that I thought the pork was better at Stockyards and I thought the coleslaw was a nice touch but the sandwich at the Black camel is bigger and the bread is better.  So is it better?  Is the better meat enough to make up for the lacking in bread?  Should size come into consideration?  In all honesty, this one is too close to call since I thought both sandwiches were awesome!  So if you ever find yourself in the St. Clair west or Rosedale area, know that there are AWESOME pulled pork sandwiches close by.

As for the BBQ later that night, I kind of got a little overzealous with the heat and ended up starting a fairly large fire in the grill.  The outside of the steaks were charred but they were still pretty tender and juicy on the inside.  I thought they were a little overcooked (but no one else seemed to think so) and the charred taste on the surface made me hang my head in shame.  Some day Grill Master, I will be worthy of your title.

http://www.thestockyards.ca/

http://www.blackcamel.ca/

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~ by jlowjlow on June 28, 2009.

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