Poutine! I need some!
October 5, 2009 9:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in the GTA during Thanksgiving and I would really like to try some poutine!

I guess my first question is: can I find it in the GTA? I know that it's pretty easy to find in Quebec, where it originate,d but is Ontario close enough? The second question would be: if I can find poutine in Toronoto where would be the best place to eat it? Third question: can I (and where do I) buy cheese curds to bring back so I can make poutine? Last bonus question: Are there any other amazing Canadian delectables that I need to eat, buy, savor, while I'm North of the border?
posted by woolylambkin to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Montreal smoked meat.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:48 PM on October 5, 2009

Best answer: Poutine is not especially common in Toronto, but you have options. For an authentic experience, you can get some from the chip trucks outside City Hall. There's also a specialty restaurant on Adelaide called Smoke's Poutinerie, I've only had theirs once thus far and it was decent.

I think the fast food chain Harveys serves Poutine, although they've closed many locations in the last few years, so it might be hard to find one. I think the one in the Eaton Centre is still there. Oh, and any New York Fries will make it.

Mmm poutine. You're making me miss Ottawa, where a chip truck with delicious, cheap poutine was around every corner.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:09 PM on October 5, 2009

The Victory Cafe, on Markham St, near Bloor and Bathurst, has some fine quality poutine. It's also a lovely place to hang, drink, eat etc.
posted by beccyjoe at 10:11 PM on October 5, 2009

Harveys poutine is balls. The -- crap -- Great Canadian Poutinerie? Has amazing poutine.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:12 PM on October 5, 2009

I have come across poutine in a random pub near UT, and so I'd assume it's available in a number of places. Listen to the locals for recommendations.

You don't need to buy Canadian curds. I'm in the US & can get curds from a number of dairies nearby. Call your local dairy or a natural food store.

Do you drink beer? Some beers are not exported from Canada, or at least not widely. I was really into Mill Street Stock Ale the last time I was up there, but YMMV. A nice beer stop in TO, near the Art Gallery of Ontario, is the Village Idiot Pub. Try their Idiot Fries, which aren't like poutine, but are awesomer than any non-poutine fries I've had in any country.

Pick up some Nestle Smarties. Ketchup- and pickle-flavored potato chips are available in Canada but I've never seen them in the US.
posted by knile at 10:15 PM on October 5, 2009

Best answer: Which Thanksgiving are you going to be there for? Canadian next-week Thanksgiving or American November Thanksgiving? Not that it makes a giant difference but some stores might be closed if you're there for Canadian Thanksgiving.

You can for sure get (sort of) poutine in Toronto -- Harvey's (a hamburger chain) carries poutine. I imagine others will suggest better-regarded, but you can bet that there will be at least minimal poutinage.

Other Canadian things whose quality people might debate but that are highly Canadian or at least hard to get in the States:

Tim Horton's (aka Timmy's aka Timmy-Ho's)

Aero Bar
Smarties (Canadian M&M's, not like American Smarties which the Canuckians call "Rockets")

Ketchup chips
All-dressed chips

Fries with malt vinegar

Kraft peanut butter

Diana barbecue sauce

English-style beans
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:18 PM on October 5, 2009

Best answer: There are a couple of poutine places here, but I wouldn't vouch for their authenticity - we're not 'close enough' for that.

Still, a lot of places are willing to sell some variety of cheese-and-gravy-on-fries, even if it's not up to Montreal specs. (Even Burger King was doing it for a while.)

There's at least one dedicated place deep downtown - Smoke's Poutinerie. It seems to be well-reviewed. Check out the Star's take on it.

Also, BlogTO did a poutine roundup, though none of them seem fantastic.

Other suggestions: if you're looking for smoked meat, Jewish style (also a Montreal specialty), try the brand-new Caplansky's, which is great. Also downtown. (It just moved, so use the website address, not the Google Maps one.)

Finally, do not under any circumstances eat at an establishment that promises "Canadian food."

Enjoy your visit!
posted by bicyclefish at 10:19 PM on October 5, 2009

Go to the blue chip truck at Nathan Philips Square for your poutine. Not quite Quebec quality, but yummy. Should definitely try Timmy's too. Keep in mind that they probably lace their coffee with crack.
posted by Go Banana at 10:23 PM on October 5, 2009

posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:27 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

A new place just opened up - Smoke's Poutinerie. They have lots of different types of poutine. I tried the pulled pork and the chicken curry poutines -- not exactly traditional, but pretty good grub.
posted by Ouisch at 10:30 PM on October 5, 2009

Best answer: Poutini's House of Poutine (on Queen, near Bathurst) blows Smoke's out of the water for authenticity, IMO.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 10:46 PM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Smoke's Poutinerie is disgusting. The gravy is beige, transluscent, and starchy, and flavoured with sage like it was made by yuppies. It's like a mild sage-cornstarch sauce. Don't go there. The poutine at any Harvey's (a pretty ubiquitous fast food chain) is pretty decent and will KILL Smoke's Poutine Of Dainty Disappointment.
posted by twistofrhyme at 11:37 PM on October 5, 2009

+1 for Poutini's. Really impressed so far, and good a consistent 3 out of 3 times.

Also, I love the paper bowls they serve in.
posted by setanor at 12:48 AM on October 6, 2009

Everywhere has poutine in Toronto, even fast food places like New York Fries and Burger King. Quality varies, of course.

It's the quality of the gravy that makes poutine good or awful, so I'm always suspicious of a place that makes only fries and gravy... you really need to be cooking meat in there somewhere to convince me it's real, folks.

And on the other junk food list: Dill Pickle flavor potato chips are indeed great, like a superior version of Salt and Vinegar.
posted by rokusan at 1:41 AM on October 6, 2009

Another +1 for Poutini's, with agreement that it's much better than Smoke's. It's west of Ossington... not super-close to Bathurst.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:21 AM on October 6, 2009

I've been to both Poutini's and Smoke's, and while I'm not Canadian my assessment is that Poutini's is more "genuine", but I preferred the poutine at Smoke's more because, well, I love the hell out of pulled pork.

You could always take one of Coach Canada's 10 dollar buses from Toronto to Montreal, I guess.
posted by the dief at 5:48 AM on October 6, 2009

A warning against the New York Fries poutine - it's expensive, and the last time I had it they used shredded cheese, not cheese curds. The best poutine is made with cheese curds.

I used to get the poutine at the cafeteria at Glendon (francaphone campus of York University) and it was great, but that is totally out of the way. I also liked KFC poutine, because I like chicken gravy, but I haven't had it in years and I don't trust KFC not to change their recipes for the worst. Other than that, Harvey's poutine is good, poutine from a chippy truck should be good. It's not exactly gourmet food. It's not as common as in Quebec, but in the last 15 years it's spread a great deal and generally you can find it easily.

Do try the donuts at Tim Horton's. The coffee is thin and badly made, but they have a good variety of donut flavours and like to create new ones - like Canadian Maple, which is maple flavour with custard/Bavarian cream inside. Also, if you like curry, try roti which is a Trinidadian dish: curry wrapped in a lentil wrap. It's something I didn't find in the US. Here's an article on where to get it.
posted by jb at 8:44 AM on October 6, 2009

If you're going to do roti, ask tehloki--he's the king. And get goat roti if you can find it. Manna from heaven.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:15 AM on October 6, 2009

Oh, I just remembered, if you're going to Gaytown (Church and Wellesley), O'Grady's pub has excellent poutine. I think they put ginger in the gravy. Fuck, I'm drooling at work again.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:59 AM on October 6, 2009

Do not eat at O'Grady's. They treat their staff like shit there. One of the worst kitchens/dining rooms in all of Toronto to work in.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:44 AM on October 6, 2009

As to constructing your own, I've found very good cheese curds at Trader Joe's, of all places. And, you can make your own beef gravy quite easily if you have a good beef stock around.
posted by Citrus at 11:55 AM on October 6, 2009

whaat.... No! Poutine is made with chicken gravy! All the places here in TO do it wrong, with thick beef gravies flavoured with rosemary and thyme and stuff like that. It just ain't right! Go to quebec and you're getting chicken gravy. Big difference. You can get packets of St Hubert's chicken gravy at Metro, though, if I'm not mistaken, if homemade poutine is on the agenda...
posted by gonna get a dog at 8:23 PM on December 5, 2009

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