The fifth edition of Poutine Week kicks off today, and over 50 Montreal restaurants have put forward their own riffs on the classic Quebec dish of fries, gravy, and cheese curds.
Poutine is ostensibly a simple dish comprised of just three elements, but the Poutine Week concept doesn’t really fly if a large swathe of restaurants just put forward the best possible poutine classique they can whip up — customers probably wouldn’t shuffle around town mid-winter to sample them.
Instead, restaurants and chefs fall over themselves to see who can plate up a new take on the dish. Some are creative, with copious add-ons somehow working despite the odds. Others are baffling piles of ingredients, and some seem to be straight up publicity stunts.
Below are a few highlights (or lowlights) of this year’s offerings, in three categories: poutines with copious elements, poutines that showcase expensive shit, and poutines that aren’t really poutines.
This isn’t to say that these are worth trying or that they should be avoided, but please: exercise careful judgment.
- Chez Chose: La Pêcheresse with fries, Sept-Îles shrimp, seal tataki, béchamel sauce, jalapenos, cheese curds, house smoked char, and coleslaw made with lobster oil.
- Dirty Dogs: The Pig Mac with fries, cheese curds, homemade gravy, topped with homemade four-cheese mac and cheese, eight-hour slow cooked pulled pork, and barbecue sauce.
- Le Bird Bar: Birdbar Poutine 2.0, a classic poutine topped with popcorn fried chicken, pickled jalapeño and corn, fried onions, wagyu pogo slices, tomato chutney, spicy mustard sauce and frito crunch.
The Gold-Encrusted Caviar Poutine Category
- Brasseur de Montréal: La Poutine Royale with braised boar shank, duck leg confit, Black Watch beer sauce with foie gras (made with shallots, rosemary, and blueberry jam).
- La Bêtise: Lobster & Bacon Tater Tots Poutine with lobster, bacon, cheddar, homemade tater tots, and lobster gravy.
- La Champagnerie: Poutine Wagyu Philly Steak façon Champagnerie with wagyu beef, fried mussels, gruyère cheese, onions, roasted peppers, gruyère sauce, cheese curds, and foie gras.
- Bar Brutus: Bloody Brutus Poutine with Clamato reduction, lard, Worcestershire, Tabasco chipotle, Smoke Show hot sauce, bacon vodka sauce, glass rimmed with Montreal steak spice and bacon bits, and served with a bacon rose.
- Le P'tit Creux du Plateau: plantains, pikliz (coleslaw), griots, and creamy tarragon sauce.
- Le Trèfle: Bhuntàta with bites of fish and chips in homemade colcannon soup, and aged cheddar cheese (note: no curds).