I wrote this two years ago for Midnight Poutine, a local blog about everything gooey and delicious in Montreal. I’m now gluten- and lactose-intolerant, and it’s mighty hard to find a poutine fit for my wheat-free, dairy-free stomach, but back in the day I knew my St-Hubert packaged gravy from my not-so-squeaky cheese curds. And I sure talk to a lot of people about this to stay up to date on the latest and greatest of the national dish in our fair city. I stand by my selections below, but there are probably a bunch of newer places doing strong representations of the delicacy. Leave a comment to share your favourite if it isn’t listed below!
There’s nothing quite like being handed a plastic take-out container or a big plate of double-fried frites, local cheese curds, and mysterious brown sauce no matter what your level of intoxication. Now it’s time to take the messy plunge into the best poutine that Montreal has to offer:
Best Poutine When You’re Sober: Ma’amm Bolduc
Downside: They’re not open late – only until 10pm daily. Upside: The packaged gravy is enhanced with beef and wine, their cheese usually squeaks (though not always), and the gravy is generally hot enough. To hedge your bets, go for the beef bourgignonne so that you get the added flavour from the beef fat and the wine soaking into the mushrooms.
Best Poutine When You’re A Little Less Sober: Lafleur in Verdun
Poutine Lafleur uses a chicken-based gravy mix. It’s the perfect balance between fast-food junk and authentic poutine epiphany. The sauce is thick and the cheese is curd-y. For $4 you get what you pay for, plastic container and all.
Best Poutine When You’re on a Date (Sober. Don’t know why you would do this, but don’t argue with the categories): Chuck Hughes’ Garde-Mangez Lobster Poutine
He just won Iron Chef with this dish. He has 624 reviews on a basic google search…I think that means he’s a big deal or something. Best line of the CBC article on his victory: “I cut an unbelievable amount of potatoes,” he says, referring to working his way up the culinary ladder. So Montrealers can be proud of this guy. We love potatoes.
I guess the hordes of teenage girls left him alone long enough for him to swear in French on Iron Chef and beat Bobby Flay. Even Susur Lee didn’t do that — the French or the winning.
You’re probably saying, “Who the **** is Susur Lee?” He’s a big deal in Toronto and less of a big deal in New York. So now it’ll be even harder to get a reservation at Hughes’ comfort food spot in the Old Port.
Best Poutine Date When You’re on a Date (Drunk): Patati Patata
It’s cheap, it’s casual…and did I mention it’s cheap? No point getting in a fight by not offering to pay when the poutine costs this little. Screw fois gras at Au Pied de Cochon. A creamy bechamel sauce? Why would you put that on fries? At Patati Patata the gravy mix is enhanced with white wine and chicken stock. And if the date doesn’t suck and you really don’t want it to end you can even opt for a bowl of borscht. Romantic, right??Fois Gras Poutine at Au Pied de Cochon
Best Quality Poutine Overall for the Money: Au Pied de Cochon
The fois gras creamy bastardization of poutine is $23 but the regular poutine is only $7 and it’s big enough to share. $7 is less than most of the poutine options at La Banquise!!! But you can’t exactly waltz in here for poutine at 3am, so plan your reservation and early evening drinking appropriately if your poutine experience requires a certain level of intoxication.
Best Poutine When You’re not Sure if You’ll Wake up the Next Day: There are nights when you really shouldn’t be going out anywhere in your current state, but you really need something carb-y to dilute the contents of your stomach.
There are, conveniently, these flyers that you get in the mail every month that come in the little bags that get hung from your mailbox and are generally called junkmail, and they’re filled with all the cheap take-out menus in your area. They’re glossy and you’re supposed to keep them with your phone book that you never use either.
Miracle of miracles, they’re filled with all the junk poutine your little heart could desire, AND these poutines come in combos with deli subs, hot meatballs subs, slices of pizza, lasagna that was definitely not made by nonna, and free delivery. If you threw yours out this week and can’t wait until the next delivery, try figuring out how to use your dusty phonebook (or internet – see below) to call the Green Spot or New System BBQ for delivery. These places will sell you classic, standard poutines that you’ll believe are the best things ever when inebriated. Probably you shouldn’t have them when you’re sober. Live in blissful ignorance.
4351 Ave De Lorimier
Hours: Daily until 10pm, usually starting around 7:30am, 8am, or 9am and serving a full breakfast, but why would you come here for an omelette?
3665, rue Wellington, Verdun
Hours: Daily 10am-8pm
Chuck Hughes has his own personal website but his restaurant Garde-Mangez only has a Yellow Pages listing. Priorities, Chuck…
408 rue St-Francois-Xavier
Hours: Tues-Sun for dinner only until 11:30pm…or 3am depending where you google. It probably just stays open until everyone’s gone.
Hours: Daily until 11pm
3041 rue Notre-Dame West
Hours: Until at least 11pm, late, late late on Friday and Saturday, and midnight on Sunday. Early morning (5am poutine) daily
New System BBQ
3419 Notre-Dame West
Hours: 11am-2:30am (aka working fulltime here means bad tips and long hours, so please tip your delivery guy. That does not mean offering him a fry when you’re drunk.)
Photos from TMAB2003, Kimberley Blue, Coreyu, Monkeyseemonkeypoo, and Mayamonster on the Midnight Poutine flickr pool.