For food enthusiasts, there’s no better winter activity than experiencing Montreal’s third annual Poutine Week. This year, 49 local restaurants participated in the growing festival and contributed a wide array of unique poutine concoctions. From Bar Brutus’ “Jägerfirepoutine,” which is exactly as it sounds—served with Jäger and on flames—to Poutineville’s “Sugar Shack,” a breakfast poutine complete with maple syrup and tempura bacon strips, there were fierce competitors vying for title of Montreal’s favourite poutine.
(1433 Rue City Councillors)
Yann Levy’s Japanese bistro restaurant—which opened a week after Poutine Week 2014—is a first-time contender this year. The upbeat, brilliantly designed space has a trendy pop art feel with a Japanese twist. Many local artists contributed to the hand-painted murals in and outside the restaurant. Authentic pieces from Japanese culture were also expertly arranged throughout the small space, from a historical left flag with soldier’s signatures dating from WWII to delicate origami enclosed in a beautiful metal cage.
“I wanted to make a Japanese place with no sushi that was accommodating and not intimidating for anyone,” Levy said.
Although the staples of a traditional poutine were present in the Hyottoko, Biiru infused them with bold Japanese flavours. The fries were swapped out for toragashi & BBQ sweet potato fries. To complement that dish, the gravy was miso-based, and the cheese curds were accompanied by teriyaki glazed pork shoulder, tempura flakes, and kizami nori. Somehow, the dish was still recognizable as a poutine, yet offered an authentic Japanese taste. It is easily one of the most charming comfort foods in the city.
(1102 Rue De Bleury)
Monsieur is aptly named; when owner Kimberly Lallouz created the restaurant, she knew that she would become married to it. With Monsieur, Lallouz wanted to create a classic and stylish space which served non-processed ready-to-eat food. The jazzy music and the bar mounted with wine bottles gives the place a vintage feel that is both genuine and easy-going.
“The idea was simple: Conscious cooking that is both local and seasonal,” Lallouz said. “I like to call it ‘Gastronomie à petit prix [gastronomy at a small price.]’”
This year, the restaurant decided to tone it down from the dessert poutine they served in 2014 and go back to basics. “Fresh” was the idea behind the Mr. C. Verde, which included fresh fries (a mix of yukon and sweet potato), organic and local cheese curds topped with grated mozzarella for a extra stringy kick, sautéed wild mushrooms and kale, and crispy chorizo. All the ingredients came together for an indulgent poutine that does not sit heavy in the stomach. The presentation was lovely, the kind of plating that played with both colour and shape. Not only did the food make Monsieur worth a second visit, its atmosphere also encourages customers to look forward to eating there again.
La Taverne F par Ferreira
(1485 Rue Jeanne Mance)
A modern Portuguese fusion restaurant in Places des Art, La Taverne F usually serves up food in small portions with excellent beer and wine. As a brasserie, this format allows guests to share the food while enjoying their cocktails. The restaurant caters to an older, more sophisticated crowd with a penchant for art deco and minimalist decor. Its bold, narrow design is unique and its location makes it perfect for a quick bite and drink before or after a show.
For Poutine Week, the restaurant presented the Salted Cod Ferreira Poutine, a true seaside delight. With homemade french fries, salted cod, caramelized onions, creamy sauce, cheese curds, and lemon zest, the dish was an interesting reinvention of fish and chips. Compared to poutine’s typical association with fast food, La Taverne F’s option is definitely a more classy experience.