I go out for brunch a lot less these days because of the baby’s nap times, and the tight layouts of many brunch spots (ie, backless bar stools and communal benches are not ideal for baby booster seats). Sometimes though, the stars align and I can sip a nice Americano with a mid-morning plate and pretend I have no children. Bahahahah.
Barque Smokehouse is in Roncesvalles, just down the street from Smock, the coolest cafe concept I’ve seen for parents and young kids.
Conscious of the fact its regulars will inevitably include children, Barque offers a kids’ lunch and brunch menu. A brisket wrap for kids? Nice.
Most of the restaurant space is kid-friendly, but our party of three adults and three children ended up at one of the high tables at the front. This oddly worked out with some creative manoeuvring. Barque stacked three wooden high chairs together for my niece. Her baby sister sat in her own Fisher Price booster that can be strapped to any chair, and H was OK to sit up higher on his knees to reach the table. Whew.
Once we sat down, the kids got crayons and colouring books, and milk was served in plastic cups with straws. Some of the TVs were tuned to cartoons.
Interestingly, Barque aims to show that barbecue doesn’t necessarily need to be heavy.
With that in mind, it certainly succeeds with the breakfast tacos ($14). Hunks of savoury pork belly play nicely with tart tomatillo salsa, soft scrambled egg and crunchy hickory sticks. Instead of gut-busting, greasy potatoes, this comes with a fresh arugula salad, sprinkled with toasted pumpkin seeds.
I salivated over the pancakes ($14) my sister ordered topped with smoked duck, blueberry compote, and chèvre. A beautiful and delicious plate. Her husband, Kevin, had the Barque Brisket sandwich ($14) slathered with red cabbage slaw, fried onions, and horseradish mayo. I’m sure he was regretting offering people bites to try as H kept coming back to him.
The kids’ breakfasts ($6) come with fresh fruit (THANK YOU!) or fries. There are four options: pancakes, scrambled eggs, grilled cheese or chicken fingers. A huge huge thumbs up for the fresh cup of strawberries, melon and kiwi. My only gripe is there were only three small pancakes. My three-year-old could have eaten five or six.
The coffee mugs with vintage food labels on them were a cute touch. A vital part of weekend brunch, coffee was fresh and frequently refilled. Service was very lovely.
Barque Smokehouse, 299 Roncesvalles Ave., Toronto, (416) 532-7700.