Cheese Curds, Chips and Gravy – mere cheesy chips and gravy you may think? Alas, this is much more. This is Poutine!
Poutine is a staple part of the Canadian diet, and an integral part of its culture. Originating from Quebec, this dish has now spread all across the country. I have not met a Canadian who would not recommend giving it a go.
Soon upon arriving in Canada, Lily and I were eager to see what the hype was about. We headed to Three Brothers in Ottawa after we naively believed their claims of being the ‘best Poutine in town’. It was a horribly disappointing first experience; the chips were dry, the gravy too salty, and the cheese too rubbery. Luckily we were not put off for too long. Knowing there must be something more behind such a reputation, we headed to Smoke’s Poutinerie after hearing this was a much better option. Just across the street from Three Brothers, Smokes really IS the best Poutine in town.
Like the novice’s we were, Lily and I simply requested ‘Poutine’, for the cashier only to look at us as if we were really dim, asking what kind of Poutine we would like. With a menu solely dedicated to Poutine, you realise they are going to know what they are doing. For our first Smokes experience we felt it necessary to go for Traditional; simply chips (or Fries if you want to be Canadian), gravy and cheese curds. It blew me away. It does not sound like anything special but there is something about it that is just so hearty and so very satisfying. The gravy was rich and homely and the curds melted into delicious, gooey, strands.
Now that I am nearly at the end of my stay in Canada, I have had the chance to have tried a decent chunk of the Smokes menu (all of these flavours are on top of the traditional cheese curds and gravy):
- Philly Cheesesteak (Steak strips, Red Peppers, Sautéed Mushrooms, Caramelised Onions, Cheese Sauce) – Seriously delish, would have been even yummier with extra cheese sauce. 2nd Favourite.
- Bacon Cheeseburger (Ground Beef, Smoked Bacon, Cheese Sauce) – Tasted good but there was too much beef.
- Chicken Italian (Grilled Chicken, Meat Sauce, Cheese Sauce) – Surprisingly it was a little bland.
- Limited Edition Onion Ring (Onion Rings, if you didn’t guess) – It doesn’t really work as you can’t exactly mix the onion rings in with everything, but I was craving onion rings so I was satisfied
- Pulled Pork (Chipotle Pulled Pork) – Heaven in a Box. My favourite by far. The sauce that the meat is in is sweet but not sickly, and the Pork is to die for.
- Triple Pork (Chipotle Pulled Pork, Smoked Bacon, Italian Sausage) – Otherwise known as Glutonne, in French; very apt name as I certainly felt pretty greedy by the end of it. Frankly its a bit much and I didn’t really like the taste of the Sausage. Think going for Double Pork would be great as it doesn’t have the Sausage.
They have so many flavours, honestly I don’t think they all sound that great – Veggie Nacho for example; Salsa, Sour Cream, Jalapeño Peppers and Guacamole!? Remember this is on chips, cheese curds, and gravy. I just don’t think they would mix will, but then I guess they must do if it is still on the menu.
Visiting Canada? Poutine should be top of your list. Traditional is fabulous in itself but if you are feeling more adventurous then definitely give Pulled Pork a go. I am already googling places to eat proper Poutine at home to satisfy my cravings!