I happen to love poutine. It’s one of those foods that I consider a decadent treat. So when I head out for one, I want it to be good. Usually, I’m a bit of a purist, but sometimes a non-traditional one catches my eye, especially if it has some interesting or local ingredients.
One that stands out for me is the lobster poutine at The Southern Cross Grill in Ottawa. I stumbled across this one after the Ottawa Dragon Boat competition last summer. Our team was staying in a hotel nearby and recommended this restaurant as one that could accommodate a large group. I can’t remember much else about the food at the restaurant, but the lobster poutine was phenomenal! It was simple: fresh-cut fries, Canadian lobster, St-Albert’s cheese curds (local), and garlic butter. It was decadent. It was delicious.
Another one of my favourites is the poutine at The Templeton in Vancouver. (They’ve got quite the poutine culture going on it that city! Who knew?) What makes this one special is the vegan mushroom gravy. Sooo good! I’d prefer cheese curds over the aged cheddar that they use, but the cheddar works well. I’ve written about The Templeton before. It’s a traditional diner where most of the ingredients are locally-sourced, organic and/or small farm. I always try to stop in when I’m in the city.
But on to Montreal Poutine Week…
Over 30 restaurants are competing in the competition. Most of the poutine conconctions are non-traditional, but there are a few featuring just fries, gravy or curds for purists, and another handful featuring traditional plus an extra ingredient like smoked meat or pulled pork. You can vote for a poutine by visiting a participating restaurant, asking for a voting card when you buy their poutine, and then using the code from the card to vote on the Montreal Poutine Week Website. Pretty simple?
Here are my picks. They were picked based on the restaurant philosophy towards ingredients and the ingredients in the poutine, i.e., low on the resource food chain (like vegetarian and whole, not processed, ingredients), organic or naturally-raised animal ingredients, and local for seasonal items. Poutine week runs from Friday February 1st until the 7th.
Organic Pulled Lamb Poutine
Miss Prêt à Manger
1104 rue Bleury
This one is my must try! Both for the poutine and for the venu, which somehow has managed to escape my radar until now. According to their website, Miss Prêt à Manger “commits to sustainable living and takes pride in utilizing the freshest ingredients and local-organic produce for an innovative and daily-changing menu.” They are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 630pm only.
Their poutine contains Yukon Gold & sweet potato fries, raised organic lamb shank, shredded (Fermes St.-Vincent) organic Québec cheese curd,gravy from lamb juice, and an edible floral garnish. I can’t wait!
Lola Rosa Park
4581 ave du Parc
Lola Rosa is a long-standing vegetarian restaurant on Milton and a favourite of mine. It recently opened a new location on Park. Their poutine contains fries, sweet potato fries, brown sauce made from beans and mushrooms, and chives.
243 Notre-Dame Ouest
Café Pavé has been on my radar for a while for having a good vegetarian selection of offerings and some use of organic ingredients. Their completely vegetarain poutine contains roasted root vegetables, wild mushroom red wine sauce, and creamy Macedonian feta. They are located in old Montreal and are only open Monday to Friday during the day.
Steakhouse Poutine for Two
4801 St. Laurent
This one is for if you’re feeling decadent. It’s a $50 forestière poutine (steak-cut fries, gravy and king oyster mushrooms) topped with a 25 oz rib steak. According to their website, Resto Biarritz uses locally-sourced ingredients as much as possible. Their menu changes regularly. It’s another place that has been on my radar to try. Not sure where their steak is from. I’d be really impressed if it was local and small farm since that is hard to come by.
212 Mont-Royal Est
I’m not sure where Tazah sources its ingredients from, but the poutine looks really interesting and worth a mention: lamb shank, Syrian Akkawi cheese, pomegranate, parsley, garlic and lemon juice. If the lamb is from Quebec, I may give this a try.
An honourable mention goes to Fabergé on Fairmount West. Their breakfast poutine is one of their signature dishes. All of the eggs used at Fabergé are organic. As far as I know, they are only breakfast/brunch-focussed restaurant to make a commitment to using cage-free eggs.
What are your thoughts on poutine? Are you a fan? If so are you a purist or avant-gardist? Are you planning on exploring poutine week?