In February, Kingston experienced a food truck scandal so dramatic it seemed rife for reality television. Since then, I’ve been curious to see who is willing to brave our city’s food truck scene. This month’s contender is Smokin’ Carnivore, serving their smoky carnivorous feasts on John Counter Boulevard, mere steps away from the Kingston bus station.
Smokin’ Carnivore is not a food truck for vegetarians. It has a short and adorably-titled “Herbivore” menu on their website, but the real tummy-rumblers are featured in “The Meat of the Menu.” The truck itself is specially fitted to smoke everything they serve, from ribs to brisket to the locally sourced Wilton cheese curds in their poutine. While the Carnivore is gaining a following for its ribs and pulled pork, the team branches out with limited-time offerings like Friday Fish and Chips or Wing Wednesday.
A big brisket fan, I ordered the Beef Brisket Sandwich and did not regret my decision. The meat was smoky and thin-shaved. It was served atop the tiniest bit of iceberg lettuce, enough to be refreshing, but not so much that it interrupted the meat’s smoky flavour. The sandwich was finished with a generous squirt of barbeque sauce, giving it a deliciously sweet flavour. The sauce left me wanting more, but I was relieved to be spared of the messiness that would require more than the few paper towels that I indecorously shoved under the takeaway container.
Not much of a pork eater, I had to bring in a designated stomach to order the Pulled Pork Sandwich. Smoked in the truck for 12 hours prior to serving, the meat was tender, served with the lettuce and barbeque sauce, as well as a sprinkling of crispy onion bits that I jealously eyed as I ate my onion-less brisket. This friend was particularly impressed with the Italian-style hot-dog bun on which the meat was served. More accustomed to the Wonder Bread that falls apart beneath sandwiches in the Deep South, he found the durable buns unexpected, and perfectly fitting.
At Smokin’ Carnivore, you pay a bit of money and get a whole lot of food. Sandwiches range from around $8-10, with smaller sliders costing $3, if you’re having a hard time choosing just one type of meat. Sides cost extra, which people may get grumpy about, but the sandwiches are huge, and with 2 sides costing $3, the extra expense is a no-brainer. Because the weather has been way too hot recently, my friend and I decided to save the smoked-and-pulled meat poutine options for a future visit, and tried some other sides. My friend went for the beans, which he described as thick, rich, and molassesy: if you don’t think that’s a real word, try the beans and you’ll understand! To offset the sweetness and heat from the sandwiches and beans, we both opted for giant Strub’s Pickles. Having been raised on Strub’s, I thought I knew what I was getting into. Much to my surprise: neither of us could finish these comically enormous dill pickles!
Saving the best for last, though, I’d like to take a moment to honour Smokin’ Carnivore’s jalapeno corn bread. It’s is a hot ticket item, served until they run out and then everyone else has to go home and cry. Lucky for me, my fears were assuaged with a “Yes, we do have corn bread right now.” I was given a warning that jalapenos deliver a bit of a kick, but what they did not prepare me for was the sweet icing that was drizzled atop the personal-sized mini-loaf! I don’t know what compelled the folks at the Carnivore to add sweet to a savoury side, but it was pure genius. My face broke into the hugest smile as I munched on this sweet-and-spicy corn bread between bites of the sweet-and-smoky pulled brisket.
My hat goes off to the Smokin’ Carnivore for quality with a side of ingenuity. Eating there not only tastes good, it feels good. They are committed to sourcing their meats locally and limiting their footprint on the environment. Sparing their customers from floppy, sloppy, eco-unfriendly Styrofoam, every bit of their food’s packaging is either recyclable or compostable. Without coming into contact with a garbage bin, I never thought I’d feel so proud to eat barbeque!
Clearly, this food truck has potential. They’re making an impression on the north end, and are looking for a place to call home this coming fall. I’ve got my fingers crossed for somewhere close to Queen’s, may even City Park. It’s giant, centrally located, and just begging for some friendly food truck competition.