One of the great things about having interns from away, is that you get to introduce them to food. Or at least you do when you work at CheapEats! That means you also get to revisit and re-experiencing foods and cuisines that have become ubiquitous and by extension taken for granted.
The most recent food exploration with Hyojeong was poutine. It was one of the “real Canadian dishes” she wanted to try and since we are working just down the street from Smoke's Poutinerie I thought it was time to take her in for a visit.
Until fairly recently, it was hard to find poutine in Toronto. When you could find it on a menu somewhere, you’d find either the grated-mozzarella-style poutine or the uber-outrageous-gourmet poutine. The most extreme versions I saw included duck, berries, blue cheese and sweet potato fries. Not that any of those things are bad, they just aren't poutine!
Smoke's, on the other hand, has become a Toronto darling since it opened about 2 years ago, with flocks of people lining up down the stairs and out onto the street to get a box of their fries, curds and gravy. And they have been expanding, fast. I saw a location in Kingston a couple of weeks ago, there is one in London and their Ottawa location is even sneaking up on the boarders of the home of poutine!
Smokes focuses on what I consider "loaded poutine." They have the traditional poutine - fries, curds and gravy option; but the real sellers at the ones loaded down with toppings. Some of their offerings are: Prime Ground Beef - with ground beef, mushrooms and onions on top of your poutine; Pulled Pork - poutine topped pulled pork and a sweet sour sauce; Curry Chicken; Nacho Veggie Poutine... you see the pattern.
Smokes is good. Great fries, proper curds and decent gravy. It's not as good as many of the poutineries in Gatineau/Hull, but that shouldn't be a surprise. They’re market is a little different and don't focus exclusively on traditional poutine - fries, curds, gravy. So it’s hard to stand up to the purity comparison (especially when you are feeding a critic.) But then again I can't zip over to Gatineau for lunch!
Smoke's toppings are generous, the gravy is good (and they care about it working with the toppings), the curds are real and the fries are excellent. And the servings are HUGE! Though they have recently introduced a small which is still going to leave most people full for lunch.
Alexa and I had poutine just like I said I wanted to try. My choice was the Pulled Pork Poutine. I ordered a regular size and waited for what I ordered.
I could see into the kitchen and watch how they were making the poutine over the counter. They made a basic poutine and put the toppings on the top. It was huge amounts, more than I thought.
At first, I thought poutine is not enough for lunch because it's just potatoes. After I got mine, I realized it is enough for even three people.
It was not crispy, but it was nicely soft. With the three things mixed, it has a really really nice taste.
I enjoyed my poutine. It was delicious and the topping worked really well.
While writing this I'm remembering its taste. Oh, I'm getting hungry!