Friday, May 31, 2013

Sausage League 2013 - First Round - Barque vs. The Saint

After two successful years, Marben (Twitter: @MarbenResto, Facebook: Marben) is at it again this summer with its third annual Sausage League!

The Sausage League playoffs take place at Marben on Wednesdays from 5:30 pm until 11 pm. For $25 per person, you get to enjoy dishes created by two of Toronto's most popular restaurants, each paired with a Muskoka Brewery craft beer.

After tasting both dishes, guests will be asked to cast a vote for the dish they enjoyed the most to help crown the new "Sausage King of Toronto." The restaurant with the most votes that evening will proceed to the next round of the tournament.

Some of the competing Toronto-based restaurants in this year’s competition include Barque Bistro, The Saint Tavern, Bestellen, Trevor Kitchen and Bar, The Yukon, Farmhouse Tavern, Origin, Museum Tavern, The Harbord Room and Parts and Labour to name a few.

The winning chef / butcher this year will receive - the biggest grand prize to date - a trip for the winning chef / butcher and a friend to visit Chicago, home of famed sausage king Abe Froman.

"Sausage League is all about fun,” says Rob Bragagnolo (@RobBragagnolo), executive chef of Marben and tournament director. “Good food, lots of beer and a great crowd. And to the winning restaurant go the spoils, bragging rights...and their name on the Froman Cup!”

A friend and I made our way to Marben on Wednesday for Sausage League's kick-off battle, which was between Bryan Birch of Barque Smokehouse and last year's champion, Jesse Vallins of The Saint Tavern. 

Reuben Sandwich Sausage, with Maple Mustard, Onion Choucroute, Rye Crumble & Russian Dressing Creme Fraiche.

Smoked Chorizo, Black Bean Purée, Rice & Tomatillo Salsa

I'm not sure how it was last year but contrary to the Sausage League in 2011the competing dishes this year were referred to by colour (i.e. "Blue" vs. "yellow") rather than by chef / butcher / restaurant (i.e. "The Saint" vs. "Barque") which is a great idea, in my opinion, 'cause it encourages patrons to vote for the tastier dish rather than their favourite chef / butcher / restaurant (besides we had a lot of fun guessing which dish was from where.)

Anyway, both sausages were really delicious and appetizing. The plump reuben sandwich sausage was incredibly juicy while the denser, smoked chorizo sausage packed a nice heat. It was a really tough decision but I voted for the Blue sausage 'cause I enjoyed the entire dish as a whole - the sausage plus the sides - a lot more than the Yellow dish. The beer pairings, a lager for Yellow and a cream ale for Blue, worked really well too.

WINNER = BLUE SAUSAGE, Jesse Vallins from The Saint Tavern.

Below is the schedule for Sausage League for the next three weeks:

June 5: Farmhouse Tavern vs. Bestellen
June 12: The Yukon vs. Trevor Kitchen and Bar 
June 19: Museum Tavern vs. Origin (St. James) 

For regular Sausage League updates, visit, the Marben Facebook page or follow @MarbenResto and the #SausageLeague hashtag on Twitter.

*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*

Related Post:
Sausage League 2011