When I knew I was set for Toronto there was one word in my mind: poutine.
For the unenlightened: Poutine is a Canadian invention consisting of a layer of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. The dish originated in Quebec but is now considered a Canadian staple of pub grub. I first saw poutine on the Quebec episode of No Reservations and instantly fell into epicurean obsession. Psst: this is your go-to hangover cure!
Knowing I’d be demanding the best poutine, my friend Zuzu set off to hunt down the best of the best in preparation for my arrival. She kept going back to Poutini’s and Stampede, both in her neighborhood. After browsing Poutini’s menu a couple of weeks before my trip, I knew this would be the first place I would patronize.
As you can see from above, their menu caters to a variety of tastes and diet lifestyles. My friend Zuzu praised their vegetarian gravy poutine.
Mentally I had my order down and ready to go weeks before taking that first step into their establishment, so on one sunny day in early June I sounded confident like I was already a poutine pro.
My Order: Traditional poutine with beef gravy (teeny weeny size) and Boylan’s Root Beer
I must dissect this concoction bit by bit.
French Fries: Top class. Skin-on, crispy exterior with hot, soft but not mush innards.
Cheese Curds: First of all, white cheddar = automatic bonus. However, they were so creamy I just wanted to melt them and drizzle them on top of the fries instead. I almost feel like they hinder themselves because they don’t quite taste like they’ve reached their full potential (which would be cheese sauce). Don’t listen to me, though – these are top of the line curds that are shipped in every other day from Mapledale Farm in New York.
Gravy: Now, what I am about to say is purely personal preference but I have unfortunately come to realize that I do not like brown gravy. As far as smooth brown beef gravy’s go, this was superb gravy. But it’s definitely not for me. Perhaps I would have enjoyed their vegetarian gravy, though, as Zuzu did talk that up quite a bit. I’m one for sawmill (white country) gravy and thick, meaty and mushroom-y brown gravy.
Boylan’s root beer is amazing and the perfect beverage to wash down this sinful treat. We’re talking poutine; water is for pussies.
Would I eat at House of Poutine again? Yes, but I’d probably order fries with the roasted garlic mayo dip in lieu of poutine. I would also give their vegetarian gravy a go.
Would I recommend House of Poutine? Absolutely! The folks at Poutini’s put a lot of love and quality control in their ingredients and that counts for a LOT. Just because I did not enjoy poutine overall doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it or want others to avoid it. It’s part of the mosaic that is Canadian food culture.
Poutini’s is located on the bustling Queen Street West in an area of Toronto that has seen some serious gentrification and hip injections in the last five years. It’s counter service only with very limited bar stool seating (You will probably be standing as you eat or waiting in the shadows to pounce on any stool that opens up).
They get bonus points for using biodegradable containers, napkins and utensils – all of which can be easily disposed of using the in-house receptacles.
And don’t worry, House of Poutine, it is me, not you. After giving poutine another go at another yummy place I realized that (insert tearful confession here) poutine just isn’t for me.
Poutini’s House of Poutine
1112 Queen Street West
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