POUTINE WEEK 2016: Holy fuck, that’s a lotta duck!

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They don’t call it haute poutine for nothing. This delicious dish from funky Queen St. E joint Prohibition Gastrohouse is topped with duck confit, duck crackling, duck gravy and the fries are deep fried in duck fat. If there was anymore duck in this dish, you’d hafta slam on the brakes and wait for it to cross the street!

OK, let’s break it down. The duck confit is cooked perfectly; great texture, nice chew. You get that added crunch from the crackling, and an extra kick from the duck gravy. Cheese curds are on point, even if they’re already melted by the time they hit the table. Hey, at $14.95, this is no poor man’s poutine—but what it might be lacking in size, it more than makes up for in flavour!

POUTINE WEEK 2016: It’s pulled pork o’clock somewhere

With every freakin’ diner, drive-in and dive in the city serving up pulled pork, it was just a matter of time before I had some pulled-pork poutine this week. But hey, if you’re gonna put pulled pork on poutine, you gotta do it right. I wouldn’t go for that processed crap you’d get at Harvey’s—gimme something served up by a pork ninja, like the ones at Wenona Craft Beer Lodge.

This funky Bloor St. joint was probably a Portuguese dive bar in its past life, but they’ve really made it nice and cozy, putting canoe paddles up on the wall, craft beers in the fridge, old-timey bluegrass on the stereo, Turner Classic Movies on TV…oh, and real-deal BBQ in the kitchen.

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Now, they call this a pulled-pork poutine, but it’s really a plateful of pork surrounded by some fries and cheese curds. The fries are super-thick, nicely seasoned, and the pork is super-tender. Nice tang from the pork gravy, but I gotta say, the curds just didn’t have that squeak, bro. That being said, I could totally pound this pork with a side of mac ‘n cheese and collard greens, and a couple pints of their tasty house ale on tap. Hey, if I’m still hungry after hitting up that vegan joint across the street, I know where I’ll be heading!

POUTINE WEEK 2016: Braise a little beef, braise a little beef, braise a little beef!

Man, I loves me some Trooper. Good Ol’ General Hand Grenade, Boys in the Bright White Sports Car, Raise a Little Hell… That band is off the charts, dude! (They haven’t had a hit single since 1991.) But while Trooper is no longer raising hell, the Tesla Café in Koreatown will braise a little beef and put it on top of fries for just 11 bucks:

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This dish is TheBomb.ca, bro! Fries are nice and crispy, beef is nice and tender, service is nice and friendly at this cozy neighbourhood joint. (They even put beer nuts out for noshing on the bar. Who does that anymore!?) The one thing I would say is that you don’t get a whole lotta cheese here. The curds are few and far between, and they just sorta melt into the beef. But man, as far as beef stew served on top of French fries goes, this one is right up there!

POUTINE WEEK 2016: Killer Korean BBQ, and I didn’t hafta cook it myself!

Remember like 10 years ago, when Korean BBQ joints were popping up all over the place? Man, you could never get me to eat at one of those joints, dude! I mean, why would I go to a restaurant if I gotta cook my own food? That would be like Rogers paying me to watch TV, instead of jacking up my cable bill! (Except, y’know, if Rogers actually did that, it would be a good thing.)

But the good thing is that at Poutineville, they’re serving up Korean-style BBQ beef on top of poutine—and the beef’s already cooked by the time it hits the plate:

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Now, I was a little scared when I saw the sauce, especially after yesterday’s BBQ sauce incident. Fortunately, this sauce wasn’t spicy; instead, it had a nice, sweet, tangy taste that went great with the beef. The fries had a nice crispness, and while these curds were a lot smaller than the other funky joints I’ve been to this week, the texture was on point. But the beef is what makes it. Nicely seasoned, grilled to perfection. Dude, you could put this beef on a salad, and I’d still stuff my face full!

(As long as it’s macaroni salad. Or maybe a nice, crisp chicken-bacon caesar.)

POUTINE WEEK 2016: That bacon be takin’ dem blues away!

OK, so this one time, I was at this funky vegan joint, and I asked if they could put some bacon on my kale/quinoa salad. Those dudes looked at me like I was a zombie from Mars, bro. But c’mon man, everything’s better with bacon! Case in point: the bacon blues poutine at Let’s Be Frank.

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This funky Chinatown joint is right next to the El Mocambo, which is supposed to be reopening sometime this year. And while it looks like a total dive bar, Frank’s got craft beers and vinyl records in ample supply. They were playing some funky southern rock from the 70’s when I got there, which kinda sounded like early Hank Jr.—y’know, back before he started hanging out with Guy Fieri’s homeboy Kid Rock.

And hey, I gotta give ‘em bonus points for presentation—that’s one fine-looking poutine. But while the bacon bits added a nice bite, I wasn’t a big fan of the spicy BBQ sauce. Don’t get me wrong, I would put that shit on some nice baby back ribs, but when it comes to poutine, spicy sauce does not compu-tine.

But hey, when they start doing shows at the ElMo again, I might stop in for a hot dog or something.

POUTINE WEEK 2016: Gettin’ frisky with the brisket!

OK bro, I’m pretty sure I’d eat beef brisket off a flip-flop, so if you put it on top of fries, curds and gravy, now you’re cooking with poutine oil. Bareburger specializes in putting fancy cuts of meat between big buns (I think I had some lion tacos there once, or maybe that was in Tampa Bay), but this brisket poutine is actually a regular menu item:

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Now, let’s break it down. What you’ve got here are thin, tender, melt-in-your-mouth slices of brisket, with some cheese curds that don’t lose their squeaky texture, and poutine sauce that I swear couldda come outta a can from Quebec. But what makes it are the fries. Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy when you bite into ‘em… Look bro, you can’t have a perfect poutine without killer fries, and these spuds know what’s up.

And hey, call me crazy, but as soon as I finished this delish dish, they started playing “I Believe in Miracles.” Coincidence? No way, Jose!

POUTINE WEEK 2016: Who knew lobsters had ribs?

OK, so here’s the deal. Baton Rouge is a local chain of semi-upscale rib joints—you could say that it’s to Toronto what Tony Roma’s is to Calgary or Tony Romo is to Dallas. So hey, when I heard that their Eaton Centre location was participating in Poutine Week, I figured I could expect some nice baby backs with BBQ sauce served on top of fries.

Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was almost as much of an epic fail as the time Tony Romo dropped the extra-point hold against the Seahawks in the playoffs. Cuz instead of ribs, y’see, they were dishing out a mean lobster poutine:

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Dude, this dish was bananas, and bananas are good! You’ve got some huge, meaty chunks of lobster sitting beside equally sizable squeaky cheese curds. The sauce was on point, and while the fries were a little on the thin side, there was plenty of flavour to go around. But the green onions are what makes it, adding a nice crunch and a bit of a kick. I’ve actually had a couple lobster poutines in my day, and this one was right up there. And it was only 10 bucks! Tip your servers, folks, cuz this generous portion is worthy of a gracious gratuity!

Poutine: It’s not just for breakfast anymore… except when it is!

(Originally written August 8, 2014)

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Meet la poutine matinale, a before-lunchtime version of the Quebec tradition, as served at popular Outremont brunch spot Faberge.  This place packs peppers, onions, cheese curds and an egg on top of hash browns smothered in hollandaise.  I even paid extra to add bacon–because face it, everything’s better with bacon!

La poutine matinale, $12 (add $2 for bacon) @ Faberge, 25 avenue Fairmount Ouest, Montreal, PQ

banquise_poutine

OK, so this wasn’t my first meal of the day.  (I had, like, a bagel or something beforehand.)  But you almost don’t need dinner after chomping down on La T-Rex at legendary diner La Banquise.  With ground beef, pepperoni, bacon and hot dog atop a bed of poutiney goodness, you actually hafta chew through a couple layers of meat just to get to the fries, gravy and curds.  And yes, that is their signature La Banquise beer in the background. 😉

La T-Rex, $9.75 (regular), $14.95 (large) @ La Banquise, 994 rue Rachel Est, Montreal, PQ.

Who needs real cheese when you’ve got salsa con queso?

OK, so here’s the deal. This one time, I was making mac ‘n cheese, and I realized that I was all out of Cheestrings and Cheez-Its. So, to solve this dilemma, I reached into my nacho drawer, and pulled out this jar of good times:

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Luckily, I still had some left over from that time I ate 10 Doritos Locos Tacos, so I poured it into the pot, and boom goes the cheesamite!

Food Truck Feeding Frenzy Friday: Hmm, wonder if I could eat 10 of these…

(Originally written January 16, 2014)

Now this is the kind of food-truck experience I’d been expecting after seeing several episodes of Eat St.  Quirky characters, friendly service and food that someone surely cooked up in their college dorm—in this case, a grilled-cheese sandwich.

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Let’s just say this wasn’t your grand-dad’s grilled cheese, with both Doritos and jalapenos inside.  The crunch of the chips hit me right away, with the processed cheese double-teaming my mouth alongside real cheddar.  The jalapeno peppers added a nice sweet kick, making this the equivalent of a nacho sandwich.  Could use more than one napkin though, as things get quite greasy!

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