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.

Tasty Turkish Flatbread at Best Istanbul Restaurant

Best Istanbul RestaurantLocation: 235 Augusta Avenue, Toronto
Website: http://bestistanbul.ca/

I recently had a pide at Byblos Uptown that was good but not great; now here comes Best Istanbul Restaurant to show them how it’s really done.

I tried a couple of pides, and they were both seriously delicious.  There was the Sucuk Pide (“Turkish flatbread with mozzarella, sucuk meat and eggs”) and the Veggie Pide (“mozzarella, spinach and feta cheese”).

Best Istanbul Restaurant

Both were quite good, though the sucuk was my favourite of the two.  If you’re unfamiliar with sucuk (which is sometimes spelled sujuk), it’s a really tasty, intensely-spiced sausage that’s kind of like a turbo-charged version of pepperoni.  It’s so good.

Best Istanbul Restaurant

It works perfectly on the pide, with its assertive flavour matching perfectly with the mild, gooey cheese.  The crust is great too, with a nice exterior crispiness and a satisfyingly chewy/fluffy interior.  I didn’t notice the egg, however; either they forgot about it (the picture on the menu shows a full egg yolk on the pide), or they mixed it right in with the cheese (though it didn’t taste like they did).

Best Istanbul Restaurant

The Veggie was quite tasty as well, though the crust was slightly thinner and crispier, which wasn’t quite as satisfying as the other one.  It was also a bit underseasoned, though a spritz from the accompanying lemon wedge easily took care of that problem.

Descendant: Still Some of the Best Pizza in the City

Descendant PizzaLocation: 1168 Queen Street East, Toronto
Website: http://descendantdsp.com/

Though I generally like to visit places I haven’t tried when I eat out, exceptions have to be made.  Especially in the case of a restaurant serving food as great as Descendant, which makes superb Detroit-style pizza.  It’s a strong contender for the best pizza in the city.

And yeah, it’s still great.

I tried a couple of pizzas — the Gatt-Daddy (“house made fennel sausage, Mama Lil’s Peppers, red onion, sauce, basil aioli, fresh parsley & basil”) and the Jaffna (“kothu roti, mango chutney, cilantro cream, green onion, Calabrian chilis, fresh cilantro, coconut sambol”).

Descendant Pizza

Orrdering a pizza as bizarrely topped as the Jaffna might be a dicey proposition at a lesser pizza joint — but Descendant is not a lesser pizza joint.  Aside from making technically superb pizzas, Descendant does an amazing job of taking seemingly bizarre flavour combos and doing something special with them.  The Jaffna is sweet, spicy, savoury, and tangy in all the best ways.

The Gatt-Daddy is more traditional, and of course, they knock it out of the park.

Descendant Pizza

It helps that the pizza itself is so good — the crust is delightfully crispy on the bottom, and dense enough to hold up to the voluminous toppings while still being delightfully fluffy and amazing.  It’s a balancing act, and one that Descendant pulls of beautifully.

And of course, there’s that Detroit-style pizza trademark — the ring of dark, crispy goodness around the pizza where the cheese has come into contact with the square pan.  It’s so good.

Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese from Tim Hortons

Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese from Tim HortonsLocation: 2960 South Sheridan Way, Oakville
Website: https://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/index.php

The fake meat gold rush continues; I think it’s safe to say that, before long, all of the fast food chains will have imitation meats from places like Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods on their menus.

Tim Hortons is the latest, with three new breakfast sandwiches featuring sausage that looks and tastes like sausage — but isn’t.

I tried the Beyond Meat burger from A&W last summer, and I thought it vaguely approximated real meat, but wasn’t going to fool anyone.

The Beyond Sausage at Tim Hortons is much more convincing.

I got the Egg and Cheese, which features a Beyond Sausage patty, an omelette patty, and processed cheese on an English muffin.

Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese from Tim Hortons

The sausage certainly isn’t great, but it convincingly tastes like an actual sausage — a mediocre sausage, mind you, but if I hadn’t known it was fake meat, I wouldn’t have guessed.  That’s impressive.

(Of course, emulating a lousy, ultra-processed sausage is much, much easier than emulating one that actually tastes good, but one step at a time, I guess?)

There was something about the spicing that I found vaguely unappealing, and the flavour was particularly aggressive, presumably to cover up the lack of a meaty flavour.  But for the most part, it’s decent enough.

The texture is dead-on.  Unlike the Beyond Meat burger I had at A&W, it’s not mushy at all.  It’s a bit dry, and no one’s going to confuse it for a decent quality sausage, but the texture is basically identical to the type of mediocre sausage you’ll find at a place like Tim Hortons.  I was surprised at how close it got.

Otherwise, the sandwich was typical Tim Hortons, which is to say it was pretty lousy — the cheese was barely melted, the omelette was rubbery, and the English muffin was dense and dry.

Quality Pasta (and Even Better Dessert) at Terroni

TerroniLocation: 1095 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.terroni.com/

I didn’t think it was possible to be offended by a bread plate, but Terroni proved me wrong.

The bread plate at Terroni costs six dollars.  And fine — I understand that restaurant margins are dangerously thin, and that charging for bread is increasingly becoming a thing.

Terroni

The issue is that the plate comes with three tiny, dried-out slices of over-toasted white bread with a few drops of olive oil sprinkled on, four pieces of taralli (which is essentially an Italian breadstick), a small handful of olives, and… that’s it.  No butter, no olive oil, just mediocre bread and a few olives.  For six bucks.  Get the hell out of here with that.

Terroni

Thankfully, the rest of the meal was much better.

I had the Garganelli Geppetto, which is a pasta dish that comes with “dandelions, homemade spicy italian sausage, fontina, parmigiano, extra-virgin olive oil.”

Terroni

A dish like this is a bit of a tightrope walk — the “sauce” is essentially oil, so it’s going to be somewhat greasy by default.  But this one goes a bit too far, and feels oilier than it should be.

Still, it’s a tasty dish — the sausage is above average and has a mild spicy bite; the cheese adds a good amount of saltiness and a mild funk, not to mention some gooey meltiness; and the pasta itself is perfectly cooked and satisfying.  It’s good stuff.

Terroni

I can’t remember the name of the dessert and I can’t find it on the menu online, but it was essentially a croissant filled with Nutella, hazelnut gelato, and whipped cream.  It was easily the highlight of the meal.  It was shockingly delicious; the Nutella and the creamy gelato (which adds even more hazelnut flavour) go amazingly well together, and the tasty croissant is a perfect vehicle.

Ice cream cones are officially dead to me — I want all my ice cream in a croissant from now on.