Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sweet Pulled Pork at Red Wagon

The Red Wagon on Urbanspoon The same friend who dragged me to Save-On-Meats after seeing it on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives wanted to try The Red Wagon after seeing it that show too. I was leery initially as Save-On-Meats was a total dud for me, but how can you go wrong with a good pulled pork? In maple syrup no less?

We opted for a later lunch as The Red Wagon was said to be a busy place. My friend had tried a weekend brunch with her family, but with a lineup that went around the building, they had nixed the idea. Tuesday afternoon at 1pm turned out to be better. The place was buzzing and almost full, but the turnaround seemed quite quick and as we were just two, we were squeezed in right away. There are a lot of two-seater tables but also a larger round table that sat maybe six.

I haven't watched TV in over 15 years (give or take -- I lost count) so I had to be filled in -- the two items made famous by being on TV were the Pulled Pork Pancakes and the Crisp Pork Belly Sandwich. We ordered them and I also got a cup of Smokey Tomato Soup.

  • Smokey Tomato Soup ($5 bowl, $3.50 cup)
    • Tomato soup with some presumably smoked meat bits to give it a light smokey flavour and aroma. Not too special, and seemed steep for about a mug's worth at $3.50.
  • Crisp Pork Belly Sandwich ($12) pickled veg, jalepeno, cilantro, mayo, baguette, chips
    • It's about six inches of baguette, cut into two halves. Good amount of pork belly inside in large chunks almost a square inch in cross-section.
    • The pork belly was tender but there didn't seem to be anything crispy about it.
    • The only thing I tasted here were the pickled vegetables. They weren't super salty or sour, but the taste blanketed everything else, including the pork belly. No heat from any jalapeno (did they forget to toss that in?).
    • I recommend stripping the vegetables out and having it on the side as a sort of makeshift coleslaw. That way you'll at least taste the pork belly. Or pull out some pork belly to have separately.
    • "Chips" were what appeared to be made-in-house thinly sliced deep fried potato chips. Not too oily or salty. Many seemed a bit over-fried and on the dark side.
    • Overall, at $12, I felt this was overpriced. At around $8-10 it might have competed favourably with, say, Re-Up or La Brasserie; but still slightly overpriced for the portion you get.
  • Pulled Pork Pancakes ($12.50) Jack Daniels maple syrup, 3 buttermilk pancakes layered with pulled pork
    • Pancakes were about 6" diameter and a half-inch thick. Moist, possibly because they were soaked in syrup. Comes with two pats of butter on top.
    • Whatever made the pancakes wet was probably not the same as the watery Jack Daniels maple syrup on the plate as that had a clear, strong, Jack Daniels flavour. You really had to dip your pancake in it to get the whiskey flavour -- if you even wanted it. Maybe because I'm not a drinker, but I found it off-putting.
    • The pulled pork was sweet with a slight bit of heat. Could have used more kick from spiciness, but still very good. The amount of pork you got was maybe the same or slightly more than what you might get in a pulled pork sandwich.
    • Overall, this was quite tasty and my half portion went down easily with spoonfuls of the tomato soup in between.
    • At $12.50, I thought this was pushing it in terms of value. What comes to your plate looks like a huge stack because of the three thick pancakes, but there's not that much pulled pork here. It's almost more of a novelty with sweet pancakes, sweet pulled pork, and sweet maple syrup all rolled into a sort of combo meal-dessert. Tasty, though, so you probably won't mind.
The Red Wagon is a bit of a weird place in terms of value. The menu offers "sides/adds" with toast, bacon, or sausage all $3 each. $3 for bacon? $3 for toast? Really?

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