It’s that time again. Let’s revive the great Vancouver poutine debate.
More than two years ago, I asked readers to share their picks for Vancouver’s best poutine. That post got nearly 100 comments and was one of the most popular Inside Vancouver stories ever.
But a lot has changed in two years. Suddenly, it seems poutine is everywhere in Vancouver – from fancy restaurants to dedicated poutineries serving nothing but fries and gravy (There’s even an annual Poutine Fest, held this year on March 9). So I need your help:
Who serves Vancouver’s best poutine? Comment below and let the world know.
Considering what a simple dish poutine is, it’s amazing that it inspires such fanatical devotion. As the Vancouver Sun’s Francois Marchand explains in a great article, proper poutine consists of nothing more than hand-cut fries (fried twice for extra crunch), cheese curds (little squeaky bits, ideally from Quebec) and a brown gravy (poultry stock, with a little extra zip).
Poutine, so the legend goes, originated at potato stands and diners in Quebec, where fries and cheese curds have long been a staple. But sometime in the 1950s, gravy was introduced as a way to keep the fries warm and melt the curds. The result was poutine, literally Quebecois slang for “a hot mess” (or, alternately, a variation on the French for “pudding”).
As any true fan can attest, poutine is not exactly a refined eating experience. Fries, gravy and cheese quickly dissolve into a soggy – if strangely delicious – mix. It’s messy, unhealthy, carb-heavy and nearly irresistible comfort food.
Poutine purists in Vancouver have no shortage of options for the real deal. Sun reporter Marchand singles out Frenchies (425 Dunsmuir St.), Dunn’s Famous (827 Seymour St.) and Zako’s Deli (500 W. Broadway). Another – more upscale – favourite is Boneta, the bistro in Gastown. It’s poutine features hand-cut Kennebec potatoes, fresh cheese curds from the Okanagan (a slight deviation from the classic) and standard brown gravy.
Of course, poutine has also evolved in strange and exciting directions in Vancouver. The newly opened Smoke’s Poutinerie on Granville Street, for instance, serves such delicacies as Philly Cheese Poutine – with shaved roast beef, carmelized onions and roasted peppers – and Triple Pork Poutine – with chipotle pulled pork, double-smoked bacon and Italian sausage.
Pitting these traditional poutines against the exotic new variations is a bit like comparing apples and oranges. But we’re going to try anyway:
Do you have a favourite place for poutine in Vancouver? Help me in my quest to find the city’s best by leaving a comment below.
For more updates on poutine, Vancouver and beyond, follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza.