Poutine is a defining culinary aspect of student life in Quebec. For many, it is the meal of choice after a night out, or simply a quick way to satisfy any fast-food craving. More recently, restaurateurs have created many variations of the traditional dish, from St. Laurent Pizza’s butter chicken poutine to Romados’ Portuguese sausage poutine. Many of these variations were featured in La Poutine Week, an annual event hosted by the cheese company Saputo to promote local businesses. Restaurants could submit their poutines to be tasted for a $200 fee, and the dishes judged worthy are given the chance to participate in the festival. Running from Feb. 1-7, the week’s offerings showcased how chefs are reinterpreting this classic Quebecois dish with flavours from their own cultures, bringing unique tastes into Montreal for all to enjoy. The McGill Tribune has the dish on this year’s offerings.
Stroganoff Poutine, L’Gros Luxe (The Plateau)
Inspired by a hearty Russian beef stew, this stroganoff poutine is packed with rich flavour. There was a slight sourness to the stroganoff-inspired gravy, which brought out the smoky and sweet flavours of the minced meat. What really made this poutine to die for was the addition of spring onions, a savoury twist that truly brought out the flavour of the cheese curds and meat. In addition, the fries maintained their crispy integrity, which was likely because the gravy is served on the side—a good idea since the delivery time is often enough to make even the most resilient taters soggy. In general, this poutine is a good choice if you’re looking for an exciting version of the classic poutine to satisfy your cravings.
The Shahi Chicken Poutine, Thali Cuisine Indienne (Downtown)
Offering the most affordable poutine out of all the entries for La Poutine Week—at an astonishing $6.50 CAD on SkipTheDishes, the week’s sponsor—the Shahi chicken poutine fuses poutine with the traditional Indian dish Shahi, or paneer in a tomato-based sauce. Upon delivery, the fries and gravy were already mixed together, which unfortunately resulted in mushy fries. In fact, the fries had the consistency of mashed potatoes. Despite this, the dish was worthy of its La Poutine Week entry: The sauce was extremely addicting and paired well with the cheese curds. Thali Cuisine Indienne’s poutine is definitely value for money. If you are okay with limp fries, this is a solid choice.
Mayan Poutine, La Tamalera (Mile End)
This was by far the best option out of the three that I sampled. First, it was more affordable than the stroganoff poutine from L’Gros Luxe; second, the uniqueness of a Mexican-inspired poutine was definitely a win. The hint of lime in the pulled pork gravy brought the entire dish together, bringing out the cheese, meat, and fries. Surprisingly, the fries maintained their integrity despite being soaked in the tangy gravy. The pulled pork-based gravy was extremely juicy and proved to be a good replacement for the classic. There were a few pickled vegetables served with a dollop of sour cream that was refreshing and complimented the taste of the fries. The dish was topped off with beans, adding a heartiness alongside a sense of authenticity. This savory and unique poutine was easily my favourite of La Poutine Week 2021.