Vancouver is earning a growing reputation as one of the world’s top culinary cities, with authentic international cuisine, daring fusion and restaurants that bring together fresh West Coast ingredients in innovative new ways.
Often left off the list of the city’s culinary accolades, however, is its fantastic poutine. For those unfamiliar with the dish, poutine traditionally consists of French fries topped with cheese curds and then covered with gravy. It’s good old-fashioned, down-home comfort food – not healthy in any sense but decadently delicious.
Now, I know that poutine originated in Quebec. In fact, the word poutine – according to some French fry scholars – traces to a French word meaning “hodgepodge.” But I’ve had some top-notch poutine over the years in Vancouver: thick fries, rich gravy, fresh cheese curds — the real deal.
I’d like to hear what you think about Vancouver’s poutine scene? Do you have a favorite poutine joint? Maybe a cheap dive that’s open late, making a perfect end for a night of carousing? Or a restaurant that looks all prim and proper but actually serves up a mean plate of fries?
Please help me out on my quest to find the city’s best poutine by leaving a comment below.
To get the ball rolling, I’ll make the case for an unlikely suspect: The Backstage Lounge on Granville Island. Now, the Backstage Lounge is probably best known as a bar and late-night music venue, not as a restaurant. Inside, the atmosphere is dark and welcoming, with that classic pub smell of spilled beer and nachos. The main bar area offers a great selection of craft beers on tap, and outside there’s a fantastic patio that overlooks the waters of False Creek and the Granville Street bridge.
The menu actually has a pretty diverse selection of burgers and pizza, but I’m here for the poutine. At $9.95, it’s not cheap. And the description on the menu – “our poutine is the best around” – sets the bar pretty high. The potential for disappointment is all too real.
But Backstage’s poutine lives up to its billing and then some. The fries come out in an oversized bowl, big enough to feed even the hungriest poutine fiend. The gravy is still steaming and the cheese curds – white and fluffy – are slowly melting. Fries are thick, hand-cut and golden brown. The whole package works marvelously – I devour the plate almost without noticing, consuming a whole day’s calories in a matter of minutes.
Of course, that’s just my view. I know that like religion and politics, poutine is a deeply personal subject. So let me know what you think. Does Backstage Lounge really serve the best poutine around? Or are there better and cheaper options out there?