Over the years, I’ve heard many claims for the best poutine joint. Montreal’s La Banquise often, but not always, comes out on top. No matter the true victor, poutine matters to Canadians.
Second to hockey, fries, gravy and cheese curds fuel our passion. And, like the game, there’s a surefire way to win: Fries have to be soft enough to accept the gravy, but crispy enough to stave off sogginess, and they always need to be topped with squeaky cheese curds – not shredded mozza or cheese “cubes.”
La Poutine, the local champion, gets it. The fries are twice-fried for a crispy outside, but stay soft inside. It also offers three gravy choices: the lighter, tangy “Quebec” style (which is vegan), a gluten-free option with a traditional style (also vegan) and the darker, “western” beef gravy. The cheese’s flavour can get lost in the meat gravy, so it’s best to vote Quebecois. Plus, dishonouring traditional poutine is like getting the words to “O Canada” wrong.
The traditional ($5.95/small or $8.50/large) is the way to go. But if you’re not satisfied with poutine good enough to rival anything from Montreal and Ottawa then, by all means, add some toppings.
The Wurst, with sausage, adds saltiness, and the Quebecois combines another Montreal tradition with shredded smoked meat on top. Both varieties go for $7.50 (small) or $9.50 (large).
There’s also barbecue chicken, spaghetti, chili and other varieties. Enjoy them if you must, but then head to Canada Place and turn in your passport. (8720 109 St., 780-757-7222, la-poutine.com)