Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Purple Pig (meh) and the Laugh Resort (excellent)

My friend, Todd Van Allen, is a very talented stand-up comedian who performs in his spare time (he has a very grown-up day job as a director of something or other at a software company). I've gone to many comedy clubs around the city to watch him and in doing so I've seen a lot of local comics. One really great one is Jay Malone, who is also from Nova Scotia (New Minas, I think) and is currently living, auditioning, and performing in Los Angeles. He's headlining at the Laugh Resort this weekend, so Darcy and I went tonight to take advantage of his pilgrimage back to Canada.

Before the show, we had to go for dinner so we went to check out The Purple Pig at Yonge and Richmond. Darcy loves barbecue so I thought it would be perfect. I was all ready for it because we went for a 5-mile run this morning and I had a 1-hour core training class (stomach, back workout) at my gym. By the time we got there, I was starving.

Darcy ordered the ribs since it was supposed to be their specialty. I'm not a rib girl, so I got the pulled pork sandwich. I tried to order a side of baked beans, but the waitress said, "oh, we don't have any baked beans. I don't know why that's still on the menu." No baked beans at a barbecue place? That was the first warning bell.

Darcy said that the rib meat itself wasn't very tender, but he liked the sauce. It came with fries (a lot of them), a little cup of coleslaw, and a little cup of steamed frozen corn. Strange.

My pulled pork sandwich looked very appealing, but it had way too much sauce that tasted like ketchup with vinegar mixed in. I also had some very underwhelming coleslaw and a whole bunch of fries. The fries were fresh cut, but cooked in old oil, so they were a bit on the skunky side. I was really hungry though, so I must confess I inhaled everything. So, it was by no means inedible (especially for me), but I wouldn't go back. I looked around when we were leaving and no one else seemed to be having ribs. The overwhelming favourite seemed to be the wings. Warning bells!

We rushed to make it to the Laugh Resort on time and we barely made it. Debra Digiovanni, who is probably my favourite comedian in the world (besides Todd, of course), was hosting the show, which was a great and happy surprise. She is hilarious. I could listen to her all day. She's headlining at the Laugh Resort on May 17, 18, and 19. You should go see her. You'll love her.

There were four opening acts that were all pretty good and not too long (Ron Fromstein, Makesi Arthur, Matt Williamson, and Ron Sparks). Then Jay Malone came on for about an hour and he did mostly new material (at least I had never heard it before). He has such a relaxed, easy presence on stage. Comedy really is the toughest performing art because not only do they have to perform live, but they write all their own material. I can't imagine doing that. I remember once I had a dream that I was supposed to do a little 5-minute spot on New Laughs (open mike) night at the Laugh Resort and I didn't have any material ready and I was trying to make it up while I was waiting to go on stage. Nightmare. In the dream I remember Todd was in line behind me and I was so jealous that he had so much prepared. I have such respect for comedians.

Anyways, the show was great. Jay was great. Darcy was so tired after running early this morning, hoofing it all the way to Markham for work, eating way to much at The Purple Pig, and then racing to get there that he really didn't want to go, but he had such a good time. And so did I. Jay is performing two shows on Friday and two on Saturday. You should go.


ejm said...

We went to The Purple Pig a couple of years ago and were similarly underwhelmed. (No wait, I'll tell the truth; we HATED it.) It had to be the worst barbecue we've ever had.

We were the only ones there (around 1:30 pm on a weekday) One of the waiters spent the whole time of our lunch standing about 3 tables away screaming at another member of the staff.

I don't remember very much about the lunch. (I've tried to put the ordeal out of what's left of my mind.) But as I recall, our alarm bells went off when there was NO SMELL OF COOKING at all. A barbecue joint that doesn't smell of barbecue? Sheesh.

I also remember that the sauce for the pulled pork was horribly sweet as I recall. The ribs tasted dead. The fries were limp. My husband had the ribs and really hated them. No smoky taste at all.

We would NEVER go back there.


k-chan said...

Thanks for the comment, Elizabeth. I get so few of them! Do you know of any good BBQ in the city? My husband loves it, but we haven't found a good place yet.

ejm said...

I'm afraid I don't know; we don't go out all that often. (My husband makes GREAT barbecue...) We tried Dipamo's when it was still on College and it was not bad... but that was some years ago. I see from googling that they have moved to Eglinton.

The "Back Alley Woodfire BBQ and Grill" on Augusta Ave just north of Dundas St. W isn't exactly barbecue but they DO at least use wood and the place smells great outside and in. We tried it about a year ago and the food was pretty good. We didn't try the ribs though... There's a review of it on
Toronto Life

For ideas, take a look at: Toronto Barbecue Restaurants. Most of the restaurants get a rating of 0 because they don't have any reviews but it might be helpful anyway. And you could add your review for the Purple Pig.


k-chan said...

Thanks for the tips, Elizabeth!