According to one Toronto-based Facebook group, today, April 11, is National Poutine Day, and although we're not Canadian, we fully support this idea. The Quebecois dish of fries, cheese curds and gravy is the perfect marriage of salty, meaty flavor and texture, and easily worthy of its own day. And you don't have to live north of the border to appreciate it.
Our own Mr. Gold points out that you can find plenty of poutine around town, from a more traditional take at Dusty's to the nouveau loaded versions the Frysmith truck now serves at Loaded in Hollywood. But in the veritable melting pot of global flavors that is L.A., we've found five more must-tries, from Thai-inspired to (gasp!) vegan. Here they are, in no particular order:
5. Comme Ça
Why stop with thin crisp pommes frites, a rich sausage gravy, and Vermont cheddar cheese curds? The happy hour poutine at David Myers' French brasserie goes one step further by topping the heaping plate of calories with a sunnyside-up egg. It's just what you need to soak up a few of the $6 cocktails--like the Kentucky Crush, sort of a bourbon Sno-cone--from the Hourglass Menu. Get the poutine daily from 5 to 7 p.m.
4. The Gorbals
Ilan Hall's bánh mì poutine isn't at all authentic, but the chef was never one for rules. There's no baguette, just golden fries; and no gravy, just pulled pork with its delicious juices. And instead of cheese curds, you get mozzarella and a hefty topping of sliced jalapeño, pickled carrot, cucumber and cilantro. It's bánh mì in fry form. Look for it under the "PIG" section of the menu.
Roy Choi's "Ooey Gooey Fries" are just that, slivers of fried potato smothered in monterey jack, cheddar, and cotija cheese, topped with chillies and pickled garlic. You'd think Choi would go with some sort of meaty gravy, but instead, the magic happens with a trumped-up, spicy sambal sour cream. We imagine this dish was inspired by a late-night-munchies fridge raid.
What do you get when you cross a Burbank beer bar that specializes in vegan sausages, and even vegan beer, with a Canadian-born owner? Vegan poutine, a plate of fries covered in Daiya vegan cheddar cheese and vegan gravy. Our vegan friends swear by it, and even our non-vegan palate can handle it. Of course, we still prefer having our fries smothered with Tillamook cheddar, a choice you can make at Tony's--it just melts better.
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If all of these bastardized versions of poutine have your French-Canadian panties in a bunch, purists can find solace at Soleil. Last year owner Luc Alaire didn't just put poutine on the menu, he created an entire menu of poutine, all made with crispy thin frites and fluffy Canadian cheese curds. So what if one has Italian sausage and tangy tomato sauce, or strips of filet mignon and mushrooms, or even a fat lobe of foie gras. This is America, after all.