Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Eat Drink Cheer

When the five headed monster consisting of Gus Papaioannou, Sam Pasalis, Tony Vlachos, Chris Papadimitriou and John Matheos decided they wanted to open a sports bar they weren’t about to open just any sports bar. Their mission statement pretty much says it all; “Our passion for sports and food is what drives us. Our goal is to create the ultimate venue to eat, drink, cheer and brag about your team.” What they created surely meets expectations. Rally Sports Bar and Smokehouse is, as they say, “All that.”

044Opened on (how perfect is this for a sports bar??) Boxing Day 2011 Rally welcomes all but make no mistake, this place is Toronto (and Team Canada) centric. Gus Papaioannou once told a reporter “My father-in-law is a Habs fan, so I have to let him in.” But rest assured, every game night during hockey season you’ll find the Leafs on. When it’s not about hockey there’s plenty of UFC, Euro or World Cup, Olympics or whatever the major sporting event du jour is. It’s a food and sports lovers nirvana.

Rally, from the outside looks very impressive. Set back from the road with parking in front it cuts an imposing profile. The large back painted brick provides a perfect field for the bold name. No doubting what this place is all about. It has a nice patio attached to the side and just plain looks big.

045Inside it seems even bigger than the outside would suggest. A large bar area, small dining area to the side and large dining area in the back offer seating for up to 300 people in the over 7,000 square foot dining area. There’s plenty of sports (especially hockey) memorabilia spread throughout as well. The 40 HDTV’s are scattered all over the place to be sure you don’t miss your favourite sporting event. And for the guys, they’re well stocked in the cute waitress department. All of whom are enthusiastic about the place and very friendly.

In the kitchen they’re doing as much as possible in house. Fries and Onion Rings are exceptions but outside of that, everything else I’ve had they made themselves from quality ingredients.

So let’s have a look.

20120726_115712Their house made coleslaw is very creamy. Perhaps even too creamy. It's quite liquidy and has a pretty strong mayo taste. The cabbage almost seems to play second fiddle here. One thing that I really loved though was there was a little hint of horse radish. That played very well. Almost like slaw made with Alabama White Sauce. Which I do at home sometimes.
The beans were quite tasty too. I love that they had their own personality. I couldn't quite place my finger on what spice it is but it had a uniqueness to it. Perhaps clove?? Very enjoyable anyway.

20120726_115547I was very pleasantly surprised by the Pulled Pork Sandwich. Not the traditional southern style on a cheapy hamburger bun but more of this nouveau style, loaded with sauce and served on a soft bun and topped with their creamy coleslaw. All in all it was very good. I would normally write it off as being too saucy (yes I know, I'm always talking about how much I love sauce) but said sauce was very tasty and the whole mess just worked well together. I just wish more places would leave the saucing for the table.

20120726_115533The Brisket Sandwich would probably be enough to piss off a Texan. This is not a Texas Brisket sandwich so if you put that notion out of your mind you should do well with it. Thinly sliced brisket is tossed in their house made sauce and topped with Caramelized Onions and served on a hunk of Baguette. The meat has enough beef flavour to cut through the sauce and there's a hint of smokiness to it as well. All in all it was a very pleasing sandwich.

20120726_115620The Pork Belly Sandwich is fantastic. A good amount of pig tummy smoked, sliced and piled onto grilled Sourdough Bread. It's topped with grainy mustard and sauerkraut. The sharpness of the kraut played nicely with the richness of the pork. The mustard added a bit of kick and countered the pig fat very nicely. Not a whole lot of smoke detected but plenty good though. The sourdough really worked well here.

048The Fried Chicken is superb. Three pieces to an order with fries and macaroni salad. The macaroni salad is fine. Nothing special. I’m told their working on it but as is, it’s fairly pedestrian.
The fries were surprisingly good. Nice and crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Better than your average frozen fry.
The chicken is heavily breaded and very crispy. The seasoning is fairly minimal which isn’t my style but the breading more than makes up for that. The chicken was juicy and very flavourful. Just all around great.

Well there you have it folks. A great sports bar cranking out well above par food.

You can find Rally Sports Bar and Smokehouse at 1660 O'Connor Dr. Toronto, On.

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You can also find them on the web, facebook and Twitter.
Rally Sports Bar & Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

That’s all for now, see you next time in the food court.


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