Sunday, January 30, 2011

Street Level 

the ballroom - by leuwebb projects
One of the better projects in The Ballroom by Leuwebb Projects, The Gladstone Hotel

Today was all about Queen Street West. I strolled down to the Gladstone to see the Come Up to My Room show. I can't really say I'd recommend it this year. The quality just isn't there. Most of the installations didn't even really take advantage of the room. It was generally a disappointment.

But Queen Street didn't disappoint. While I was waiting for the streetcar I was approached by a guy who was either a lovelorn composer or a Raptor free agent who could bench press 700 pounds. He kept talking to me as we got on the streetcar and figured he'd contact me about some graphic design work. It wasn't obvious but he had been drinking (the distinct and unique aroma that liquor makes was evident in close proximity). Funny thing was he was looking for a music store that he was only a block away from when he got on the streetcar in the first place. It was just one of those days for wandering.

Drake BBQ Order the 60/60, you won't regret it.

I made my way into Black Market. It still has the same mix of weird vintage coats, "ironic" t-shirts, and even a barber shop. Then I went into Criminal Records, which actually sells vinyl records. Then I stopped into the Healthy Butcher and picked up some meats which brought to mind a craving needing instant gratification. That's what led me to the Drake BBQ for a pulled pork sandwich.

It's been advertised as the best in the city. Let's get something straight. A lot of people talk about having "the best" pulled pork sandwich but it really isn't that hard to slowly cook some pork for a really long time. So it's really not that hard to have the "best" pulled pork sandwich in any town. You just have to get it right. And the Drake does get it right. The meat could be a little saucier but it's pretty great and simply heaped atop a nondescript bun with sides like potato chips or coleslaw (or, surprisingly, Ontario grown peanuts). The interior is bare and "gritty" - basically unfinished boards, reclaimed wood paneling and hand-painted menus. There's not really any reason to eat in, I think I only counted six stools and they served up my sandwich in fast fashion. And "fashion" may be the difference between say the Drake BBQ and Phil's on College. The lads serving up the sandwiches look like I imagine the patrons do; hip, fresh faced kids with chunky framed glasses, wearing flannel plaid, skinny leg jeans and floppy tuques. Yet, there's no attitude, the price is ok, the food is good, the service is fast and, this is what really makes this place different, it's open late — like 3AM late ("or until the meat runs out"). Toronto is actually a few open-late restaurants shy of a big city, so that fact alone sets it apart. My bet is the Drake BBQ will be another successful brick in the Drake's hipster growing empire.

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