My eyes followed along as she approached, I couldn’t help but be captivated by it. She slid across the table and presented herself, sprawled out, in some small hole-in-the-wall place in Montréal at 7pm at night.
She was so hot that steam rose off her, and the anticipation of what was to come was almost unbearable. I hoped that all I had heard would be true, that it would be better than anything else I had in the past. I just wanted to ravage it, but this was my first time. And your first time with her, you must savor it.
There she was, ready for my taking, Poutine.
Mmm. Looks damn sexy huh? Because it was.
Ever since I mentioned that I was going to Canada, people flooded my social networks about Poutine and how amazing it is. So, it is quite obvious why I would be excited to finally try this Canadian delicacy. Except I was to learn that it isn’t a Canadian dish, but “Quebecian“, and they can’t stand the main-streaming that has become of it.
So what better way to experience real Montreal poutine than to have a local show you the very best spot. And no, I didn’t go to La Banquiese which is where everyone said to go for my first time.
Sometimes the most popular isn’t always the best, so I was happy when my friend from the Amtrak train said we were going somewhere else.
The scene: Mont Royal
The Place: Patati Patata
The Time: Way passed my jetlag nap-time
Matt, an awesome fellow I met on the 16hr train journey up to Montreal happened to be nice enough to offer me a place to stay as well. If you had read my post leading up to my trip to Canada, you’d know that I had not found a place to stay nor was I going to look extensively.
I would have gone hobo for the night…
The best thing when you meet a local is when they take you to their favorite spots in town. Spots many travel sites wouldn’t know about. Spots that may not be the most popular, but majority of the time are WAY better!
We took the bus from his apartment to the city’s center; Mont Royal which Montreal was built around. At this point the temperature had dropped drastically, to a hard nipple level, so a hot basket of gravy fries sounded perfect.
And that is exactly what I thought poutine was growing up. I couldn’t imagine why everyone thought chili-cheese-like french fries would be anything to rave about. I mean, it is just gravy, cheese, and fries right? Psh, I eat that in the United States all the time!
We entered Patati Patata by squeezing through the front door because there were other bodies in the way. The establishment itself is was itty bitty; a bar top with a couple of side tables and a counter close to the entrance.
Like Chinese phone-both tight.
However small the quarters were in this place, it was extremely inviting. Two young cooks scurried around behind the counter whipping up individual order off the tasty looking (and über cheap) menu while patrons waited for an open seat.
“Bonjour, que voudriez-vous?”
The cook blurted out to me (or something around those lines) and took me off guard completely. I stood, mouth wide open and frozen, surrounded by Québécois who would possibly laugh at a ‘Merican who didn’t know French. Luckily for me, Matt spoke French fluently and placed the order.
We sat at a tiny table in the corner of the restaurant, literally knee to knee, and filled out our burger choices as a pitcher of the local blonde beer arrived.
Yes, I said burgers.
Along with the poutine, most people in Patati Patata chose scrumptious looking mini-burgers and a salad to accompany it. You fill out a check-list of toppings for them to add-on; I chose cheese, hot peppers, and ketchup after staring at the Quebec-French word versions for about five minutes trying to decipher which meant which. And I was too proud to ask my friend for help with the word puzzle.
A short time after ordering the cook was beside us; hands bearing tantalizing gifts of gravy smothered goodness and causing me to salivate in anticipation. We struggled to fit our buffet of poutine, burgers, and salad onto the table made for one plate, but we managed.
Now it was the moment of truth.
Before me was a plate of thin-cut french fries. It was drenched in gravy cooked with wine, and topped off with a heaping portion of curds.
Unlike chili-cheese fries of the USA, this is a dish to be forked. I made sure to get an even portion of fries, curds, and gravy on the fork and took my first bite.
Crispy, creamy, savory, and squenchy. Squenchy?! Squishy and scrunchy. Yes, I made up the word because I couldn’t find one good enough to describe the curds cheese well enough. The combined texture of the dish were sort of odd, but at the same time made it really unique. And it was DELICIOUS!
Matt chuckled as he looked over and so my eyes widen with delight after the first bite.
The reason why poutine is so unique, especially to Quebec, is those little white squenchy curds I described. Since you can’t find curds in many other places around Canada (if at all I was told) Quebec is the real poutine capital and the place to go for your first time.
Apparently the poutine I tried, besides the curds, isn’t the classical way. Most people will go to a place call La Banquise because it has the thick cut fries and the intensely thick/fatty gravy. Either way, the curds is what makes this dish stand above the rest.
Along with the poutine, the mini-burger were phenomenal. Local beef patties on a crispy spanish style roll, complimented by a slight kick from the added hot peppers. We sat devouring the meal while chatting about the division between the French immigrants, the Québécois, party policies affecting the city, and the ever-growing animosity about poutine being thought of as a main-stream Canadian dish. I won’t get into political things on here, but it was an interesting conversation over a “Quebecian” snack and good beer. The cooks came over and asked me about the fancy way of asking to clear a table, and we chatted about the US a little.
And come to find out, they didn’t give a damn that I didn’t speak French and would have just switched right over to English had I spoken up originally.
Either way, it was one of the tastiest snacks I’ve had. It is now a fight between plantains with pikliz from Haiti and this.
(p.s. I linked the restaurant because I loved it. They did not in any way sponsor this tasty recounting of my first time trying poutine.)
Have you tried poutine? What were your thoughts? Where did you go to lose your (poutine) virginity?