What do you get when you combine southern barbeque, a gas station/convenience store and vintage kitsch and plop it down in the heart of Leslieville?
We present to you: Leslieville Pumps
Here, what once was a
Leslieville eyesore old gas station has been spiffed up to look like a Wild West storefront. Reclaimed wood is used to give it that chic tack that will either make you squee or rub your eyes in disbelief. Inside the decor continues with the southern theme, but also includes bits of Canadiana, like a Hudson’s Bay tin and a flock of mallards dangling above the grab & go fridge.
It was hard to choose just two sandwiches to eat because all four looked irresistible. We ended up getting the beef brisket and the chicken thighs.
First we tried the smoked chicken thighs. The thighs themselves were moist and had hints of cinnamon. I liked the idea of the garnishes, especially when I learned that Judd, the owner, grows as much of his own produce as he can and incorporates it into his food when it’s available. Chicken, in my opinion, doesn’t smoke as tastily as beef or pork, and while we liked the sandwich, it wouldn’t be our first option. It was more taste neutral, but don’t take that as a bad thing. If I’m eating chicken, I like big and bold versus subtle and kind. I wouldn’t kick that sandwich out of bed, that’s for certain.
The beef brisket was really amazing. It had a distinct smokey taste without tasting too much like a campfire. Judd told us that he smokes his meat with a mix of mesquite and hickory. The beef was tender and served in chunks and the homemade barbecue sauce was sweet and smokey. The grainy mustard and crispy onions were perfect complements. If the pulled pork is half as good as the brisket (and I’m sure it is), then I know when I’m getting next time I visit.
We were both pretty full, but when the owner, Judd, told us that he used goat cheese curds and gravy mixed with his homemade barbecue sauce in his poutine, we decided that we might have room for that, too. It was still steaming when it came to the table and the garnish of oregano leaves was a nice touch. There was a generous amount of both cheese and gravy on the fries, and the goat cheese curds were perfect. I tend to enjoy a thicker, fattier chicken gravy rather than beef gravy on my poutine, but this was still very satisfying.
We ended our meal by grabbing a string of Fizz candy (remember them? How the colour on the pouch never matched the flavour inside?) to eat on our drive home. Its a dangerously short drive to the Pumps, and the temptation to try their pulled pork and fried pickles means that we’ll be back very soon.
Words by Robin and Richard. Photos by Robin