Barbecue Meets Pizza at Conspiracy Pizza

Conspiracy Pizza
Location
: 858 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto
Website: https://www.conspiracypizza.ca/

Though Conspiracy Pizza started out as a pop-up inside of the infamous (and defunct) Adamson Barbecue, they’ve since cut ties and have their own space (which they share with Churnt Up, an ice cream shop, and Phamily Eats, which sells patties).

They’ve still got a bit of a barbecue theme, however — their namesake pie, the Conspiracy, comes topped with “white sauce, emmental cheese, brisket, red onion, jalapeno, barbecue sauce.”

Conspiracy Pizza

It’s an odd pizza, but it absolutely works.  In particular, the chunks of brisket are shockingly good — they’re nice and tender, and they’ve got a distinctly smoky flavour.  It makes me wish they served a sandwich, because it’s top-notch BBQ brisket.

Conspiracy Pizza

But then the whole pizza is pretty great, with pops of heat from the jalapenos, a satisfying richness from the white sauce and the cheese, and with the barbecue sauce bringing it a nice zippy sweetness to cut through the meat and cheese.  The crust is quite good too, with a super crispy exterior and a fluffy interior.

I also tried the Government Cheese, which comes topped with “mozza, cheddar, emmental, provolone, manchego, oregano.”

Conspiracy Pizza

It takes a lot for me to say that a pizza is too cheesy, but… this one was too cheesy.  It’s overwhelming.  It also kinda reminded me of a Costco pizza (the cheddar, maybe?).  It’s not bad — a huge pile of gooey cheese is never going to be all bad — but I can’t say I’d ever order it again.

Meaty, Cheesy Sandwiches at Good Behaviour Submarine

Good Behaviour Submarine
Location
: 342 Westmoreland Avenue North, Toronto
Website: https://goodbehaviourto.ca/

Though Good Behaviour started out as an ice cream shop, they also serve an assortment of meaty subs, and sure, why not?  Ice cream and subs; seems like a winning combo to me.

The menu features a few cold subs, and a few hot ones.  I tried a couple of the hot ones: beef brisket (“smoked beef brisket, smoked gouda, banana peppers, caramelized onion, horseradish, beef fat vinaigrette, iceberg lettuce”) and pork shoulder (“braised pork shoulder, provolone, salsa verde, broccoli rabe, chili preserve, mustard mayo, lemon juice, red onion, iceberg lettuce”).

Good Behaviour Submarine

The sandwiches were both meaty, cheesy, and incredibly rich.  They were quite tasty — how could they not be, with that quantity of tender meat and gooey cheese — though nothing about either of them particularly blew me away.

Good Behaviour Submarine

The problem is that they’re both a bit one-note in their flavour and in their meaty richness.  Though maybe “problem” should be in quotes there, because let’s face it: a sandwich being meaty and rich isn’t exactly the end of the world, even if I’d like some other flavours/textures to break things up a bit.  To be fair, both sandwiches had elements like banana peppers and salsa verde that should have performed this function, but all I could taste was meat, cheese, and heavy sauces.

Good Behaviour Submarine

Still, they were both solid sandwiches, particularly the beef brisket, which had a mild but satisfying smokiness from the beef and the gouda.  And the bread is great — perfectly toasty, soft and fluffy, but with enough heft to stand up to the sloppy fillings.

Solid Texas BBQ at Adamson Barbecue

Adamson BarbecueLocation: 15195 Yonge Street, Aurora
Website: https://adamsonbarbecue.com/

Though restaurants serving Texas-style BBQ have become a dime a dozen in the GTA, Adamson was among the first in that trend, and if you ask pretty much anybody, they’re the best.

I tried it once a couple of years ago, and I’ll admit that I wasn’t convinced.  I found the food to be tasty enough, but it was hampered by some fairly serious issues (most pressingly: a complete lack of smoky flavour, improperly sliced brisket, and mediocre pulled pork).

Well, I just tried their new Aurora location, and it was (mostly) a much, much better experience.

Adamson Barbecue

I will say that ordering take-out is probably not the best way to go (though it is, for obvious reasons, the only way to go right now).  When you pre-order on their website, all the meats come tightly wrapped in butcher paper, and the whole thing is sealed in a foil take-out container.  You also can’t specify a pick-up time other than before or after 4:00 PM.  This means that the meat effectively continues to cook in the tray, and is a bit more dry than it should be by the time you eat it.

Even still, it was quite tasty.  I tried basically everything on the menu: beef brisket, spare ribs, turkey breast, pulled pork, and a couple of sausages (bratwurst and jalapeno cheddar).

The brisket is their claim to fame, and yeah, it’s very good.  It could have been more tender (see: the aforementioned take-out issue), but it was otherwise top-shelf brisket.  It was quite smoky, it had a good amount of tender fat (the fat wasn’t quite as well rendered as you’d like, but that’s a minor complaint — it was mostly very creamy), and the bark was really tasty.  Texas-style barbecue is traditionally seasoned with just salt and pepper, and while it tasted like there might have been a bit more going on here, it was quite good.

Adamson Barbecue

Everything else was (mostly) really tasty.  The turkey was smoky and tender, the ribs had a great texture and more of that delightful smoke flavour (though they did taste a bit over-brined), and both sausages were top-notch, particularly the jalapeno cheddar.

The pulled pork was even worse than I remembered it, however.  It was incredibly dry, it had zero smoky flavour, and it had that underlying gaminess that you only get from pork that’s been reheated one time too many.  I’d be absolutely shocked if it was cooked the same day I ate it.

I also tried the baked beans and the coleslaw, and while neither was anything to get too excited about (the baked beans tasted more like some kind of bean stew than like traditional baked beans), but they were both tasty enough.

Horrifying BBQ at Hungry Hollow Smokehouse and Grille

Hungry Hollow Smokehouse & GrilleLocation: 134 Guelph Street, Georgetown
Websitehttp://www.hungryhollow.ca/

I try to be a “glass half full” type of guy whenever I can, because it’s always good to have a positive outlook on life.  So, glass half full: Hungry Hollow Smokehouse and Grille gives me a much better appreciation for the disappointing BBQ joints across the GTA.

Places like Adamson Barbecue and Hogtown Smoke might not be as smoky as I’d like, but at least what they’re serving tastes good.  Hungry Hollow, on the other hand…

Hungry Hollow Smokehouse & Grille

I tried the brisket and the pulled pork, along with the fries and coleslaw.

The brisket was, no contest, the worst barbecue brisket I’ve ever had (and probably the worst brisket I’ve ever had, period).  It was atrociously bad.

Hungry Hollow Smokehouse & Grille

There’s no sugar-coating it; this particular glass is completely empty.  The brisket was dry, it had zero smoky flavour, and worst of all, it was the leftoveriest piece of leftover meat in the history of the world.  It had a sharply gamy flavour that immediately let you know something was amiss.  It was outright inedible.

The pork was much better.  It wasn’t particularly good, mind you, but I was able to eat it.

Hungry Hollow Smokehouse & Grille

The texture was complete mush, and like the beef, it wasn’t even remotely smoky — but the flavour was otherwise okay.  It was about on par with the vacuum-sealed pulled pork you can get at the supermarket, and it was clearly fresh.  Under any other circumstances it would have seemed much worse, but after that questionable beef, something with no off flavours was quite delightful.

The sides, at least, were unambiguously tasty.  The fries were fresh and perfectly cooked, and the coleslaw was nice and creamy, with a good level of acidity.

Mediocre Barbecue at the Beach Hill Smokehouse

Beach Hill SmokehouseLocation: 172 Main Street, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.beachhillsmokehouse.com/

I mentioned, in my post about Hanabusa Cafe, that Toronto churns through food trends with an almost alarming fervor.  If anyone is keeping track of such things, Texas-style barbecue needs to be added to the list; something like a dozen restaurants have opened up in the last few years serving that very specific style of American barbecue cookery.

And yet no one seems to be able to consistently get it right.  Even the much-lauded Adamson falls short.  It’s tasty enough, but it lacks the deep smoky flavour that you’ll find in real-deal southern ‘cue.

Beach Hill Smokehouse

I had heard good things about the Beach Hill Smokehouse, but alas: the search continues.  These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

I got the Austin sandwich, which is a no-frills brisket sandwich with barbecue sauce, served on a bun.  It comes with one pork rib as a bonus.

I probably should have ordered the brisket on its own.  The pictures I’ve seen of the Beach Hill’s brisket have featured big, impressively picturesque slices of glistening, fatty beef.

Beach Hill Smokehouse

The sandwich on the hand…  I have a strong suspicion that the sandwich is how they get rid of all of the little dried up bits that aren’t good enough to be served on their own.  The brisket scraps in my sandwich were vaguely smokey, but incredibly dry. Zero fat, zero moisture — just chewy and tough.  Even the generous amount of sauce (which was sweet, spicy, and tasty) couldn’t quite overcome the extreme dryness.

The bun was fine, but it was big and bready, and only served to further compound the dryness problem.

Beach Hill Smokehouse

The rib was a bit better than the brisket.  It was peppery and intensely sweet, with an almost ham-like cured flavour that reminded me of jerky.  The texture was nice, however — tender but not mushy, with a little bit of a meaty bite.  The flavour was a bit unusual, but it wasn’t altogether unappealing.

I got the loaded baked beans on the side, which was the clear highlight.  They had a really great flavour, with a pleasant kick and a generous amount of pork and sausage chunks.  They were some of the best baked beans I’ve had in a long time; they’re outstanding.