On Fridays my colleagues and I often like to eat something “dirty” for lunch. Last Friday, after debating and wandering around for about 15 minutes in our typical aimless fashion we stumbled into Bofinger BBQ Smokehouse downtown. I remember when Bofinger first opened, it was a big deal. It didn’t wow me on my first visit though and in the few years that it has been around I think I have been back twice. It seems there are a wide range of opinions regarding this place, so I figured I’d give it another shot.
I opted for the pulled pork sandwich and chose the Alabama sauce (citrus base with cayenne and chili peppers). A sign next to the counter advertised their new (to me at least) smoked bacon. Pork on top of pork? Yes please. I threw that on as well.
So, how was the sandwich? Unfortunately, as I had remembered, it was just OK. The problem lies at the heart of the sandwich. The pulled pork lacks flavour and is just too dry (this no doubt has something to do with the fact that it is left sitting uncovered in a metal tray, cafeteria style). When I’ve had good pulled pork it has been moist and tender, the kind of stuff that falls apart as you scoop it with your fork, this was not that kind of stuff. There was also an insufficient amount of sauce (which was actually quite good) on the sandwich. I know I know, you’re thinking I should have just asked for extra sauce. I did. It still wasn’t enough. I suppose next time I could ask for extra extra sauce, but it shouldn’t be that complicated. The bacon was also a letdown; overcooked and dried out. Lastly, the toppings are cold which makes the sandwich kind of cold. I didn’t like that.
Despite the gripes it’s a decent sandwich, but it’s lacking. Some of the defects could be fixed quite easily (e.g. rather than spooning a bit of sauce on top of a mound of dry meat, why not toss the meat in the chosen sauce before putting it on to the bun?) but others are more fundamental and would require a complete overhaul, e.g. the fact that the pork simply lacks flavour.
A friend opted for the Philly cheesesteak. I won’t profess to be a Philly cheesesteak expert but when I conjure up the ideal one in my mind it is not dry brisket smothered in cheese whiz (regardless of whether or not cheese whiz was / is the original / authentic topping). I didn’t like the way it looked and my friend was not thrilled with the way it tasted.
I give credit where credit is due though, the freshly cut fries are fantastic. Slightly crisp on the outside and soft inside. I’m not so sure about the rest of the sides. Another friend had the potato salad and was not impressed (for me it didn’t even pass the eyeball test – way too much mayo).
So it turns out that Bofinger is pretty much as I had remembered it. Just OK. The place was packed and there was a substantial line though, so I guess they’re doing something right for some people, just not for me.
Price: About $10 for sandwich, fries and a drink.
Rating: 2 – Meh, it’s OK.
Bofinger BBQ Smokehouse – Several Locations (this review is of the one at 1250 University Street).