There was once a time, perhaps, when poutine was consumed mostly by Quebecois with a penchant for late-night drunk food. But ever since it made its way into the playbooks of hip chefs a few years ago, poutine has become a gastropub staple, up there with beet salad and blue-cheesed burgers.
In its most essential form, poutine is a very specific thing: double-cooked fries, scalding hot gravy, and the kind of day-old cheese curds that squeak between your teeth. For a while, that purist version -- or an attempt at that version -- was the standard on most menus. But now that poutine has morphed a gastronomic juggernaut, chefs have been riffing on the classic fry-gravy-cheese continuum to produce an array of offbeat, finger-licking poutines. You probably already know about Animal's oxtail poutine, an ironclad creation that propelled the "dude food" cooking of Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo to national prominence, and likely set off the city's ensuring poutine boom. Turn the page for 5 more of our new-wave favorites.
5. Banh Mi Poutine at The Gorbals:
Chef Ilan Hall isn't a stranger when it comes to sacrilegious food combinations (see matzoh balls, bacon-wrapped). So while a fusion of poutine and banh mi seems like it would rankle traditionalists in both camps, the result is a crowd-pleasing bar snack whose heaviness is cut through by the bright herbal flavors of traditional Vietnamese accouterments. A mound of diced cilantro, crisp pickled carrot and jalapeño, and julienned cucumber is ballasted by juicy pulled pork and layer of vulcanized mozzarella cheese.
4. Chickpea, Yogurt, Lamb Neck Poutine at Ink.:
If you've ever seen Michael Voltaggio's homage to the humble Dorito, you could only imagine his repurposing of poutine, a dish that has pretty much been remained a staple of the menu since the restaurant's opening. Pureed chickpeas are fried into long cylinders, crumbles of sharp tangy yogurt curd, a sprinkle of diced chives and pockets of forest green chive gel, plus a thick comforting gravy, made from slow-cooked lamb necks, worthy of any provincial French stew.
3. Poutine Marat at P'tit Soleil:
Long a bastion of French-Canadian cooking, Westwood's tiny bistro Soleil was doing poutine way before it was cool. Now, chef Luc Alarie has launched P'tit Solei, a casual poutinerie bar attached to his original restaurant, which specializes in shared plates of true-to-form, throwback poutine. The poutine marat harkens to French roots, classing things up with wine-sauteed mushrooms, slices of filet mignon, peppercorn-cognac sauce, and pale white cheese curds that Alaire imports from Canada.
2. Fried Oyster Poutine at The Parish:
At the Parish, a downtown restaurant from Casey Lane which could be favorably described as the West Coast answer to The Spotted Pig, small pewter bowls of poutine made with thick-cut fries are a hot ticket item. The one with pig's feet is great, but we prefer the version with plump fried oysters, impossibly rich pork gravy, and a creamy gribiche sauce, made with whipped aioli, serrano pepper, and diced hard-boiled egg.
1. Kalbi Poutine at Seoul Sausage Company:
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A close cousin of Chego's earth-shattering "Ooey-Gooey Fries", the poutine at this new-wave Korean joint on Sawtelle hits all the right crunchy, creamy notes. Hearty fries, kimchi-marinated onions, smooth avocado creama meld together with tender braised short rib, marinated in sweet soy and pulled into beefy strands.
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