Siri, whats the best Poutine in Canada?
To hard huh. Ok then what about any particular province? No, how about any particular city, lets say the home of Poutine in Quebec? Still can’t give me a definitive answer huh. Well, nor will anyone else. Not even the combined minds down at the Google-Plex.
But I’m going to.
And the best Poutine in all of Canada is….. wait, hang-on. If I just tell you now you won’t know how both fate and research lead me here. And why, because of that IT IS the BEST POUTINE. And why, just maybe I should be be the next Anthony Bourdain (RIP).
The Seeds of Obsession
Now we need to detour just a little to begin in order to understand how the seeds of my obsessions can get sown at any time and for any reason. Sometimes I know straight away [explaining Haiti, a train across Russia, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) to name a few], but some take root and lay dormant without my knowing, and can stay that way for many, many years; as was once what would ultimately become my Poutine fixation.
It was Anthony Bourdains No Reservations, SE02E05 – Quebec; during which when he focuses on, among others, Canadas national dish, POUTINE.
I didn’t think much of it at the time, nor any time later, until much much late sitting in my seat ready for the 15hrs journey from Hong Kong to Toronto I became fixated on just one thing.
A Poutinerie for Poutine
But, it had to be the BEST. Maybe not then, and maybe not the next day, but soon that day must come. I must have the best Poutine in all of Canada.
And so my research began.
I hit the books, and streets soon narrowing the search to Montreal, it is after all (I’m told) the home of Poutine. But then it got harder, much harder. Google still wasn’t much help in splitting the heard and field testing was going nowhere special.
And then it happened.
Patterns started to emerge, writings began to appear and slowly the list became smaller, ever so smaller. It gotten down to two.
I knew the best Poutine in Canada just had to be one of these, but which one. For my last night in Montreal whose Poutine would speak for the entire country, who Poutine would stand supreme?
I had a day to decide.
It was almost 4PM and after preparing for the dish (by not eating the entire day) I was starting to get hungry; but still the pair couldn’t be split.
When fate showed me the way.
Walking past Hotel de Ville de Montreal (city hall) I ventured in just as a tour was about to begin and when it was over things of upmost importance became the topics of conversation between the tour guide, the security (the building was now closed) and I.
I soon made enquiries regarding said best Poutine. And to my delight, almost in unison they replied “La Banquise” they said.
And it was on my shortlist.
Now if all that IS STILL not enough to convince you this was where I was meant to be; by the end of the night there could be no doubts.
- The entire time I was their, and whilst it moved quickly the queue for either eat-in or take-out didn’t come inside the door until very late in the evening.
- The place is open 24Hrs, an you don’t do that if NO one comes in 24Hr.
- But here’s the kicker, it’s far enough away from downtown and (even further from) the historic centre to keep the bulk of tourists away, but it’s easily accessible via the Metro or walkable (and you WILL need that walk afterwards). So it’s still a great local secret as somehow this place isn’t even in Lonely Planet yet!! But it will be.
So my advice, get their fast!
“But what is the best Poutine?”
Well earlier on back at Hotel de Ville de Montreal I’d also asked the same question. And before I answer it’s important to know that not only had I shortlisted two worthy Poutineries, but from each a Poutine had already been selected such dining could proceed post haste of entry to the selected establishment.
And again, in unison to my question it was spoken; and to my delight. It was on my list.
Meet La Fred Caillou
See here for full menu.
The Poutinerie: La Banquise
994 Rue Rachel E, Montréal, QC H2J 2J3, Canada
The Poutine: La Fred Caillou
…and Why I should be the Next Anthony Bourdain
After taking the long way home to walk of some of Fred and wishing I was more of a quitter, or took an even longer walk back to my bed I decided to relive No Reservations SE02E05.
And you know where he, ANTHONY BOURDAIN went for HIS Poutine; La Banquise.
The Other End
Ok this tale also has a different ending.
Mr Fred Caillou is whats know in the trade as a Special Poutine, but the purists will tell you a Poutine starts and ends with three key ingredients.
- Fresh cut fries.
- Cheese Curds.
And no more.
So what the best original Poutine?
Well this one is much much harder. The variables increase exponentially and subtleties such as time of day can and do MAKE all the difference.
But it was with some late mail from a Canadian in the know that I knew if nothing else it had to be from a Casse-Croute snack bar, and the best place for these is in Quebec. Unfortunately there’s BLOODY A LOT of these tho.
Nevertheless, after extensive field work I had an answer
Casse-Croute Chez Gaston
It’s a no frills Casse-Croute just far enough away from Old Town Quebec to put you right in the middle of local life but close enough to walk. This is a no frills Poutine from a no fills Poutinery and you can bet this hit the spot.
Unordinary Head down to La Barberie for a flight of craft beers first and once you’ve worked up an appetite make the walk over to Chez Gaston. If you’r still up for it (or more to the point space remains) check out MacFly Bar Arcade a little further up the road for a night-cap or just to play some retro Pinball and Arcade games).
332 Rue Dorchester, Québec, QC G1K 6A2, Canada
the Bonus End
I’ve got it on good authority that it’s worth a stop if you happen to be driving by, but you WILL NEED to be driving by;
Case-Croute Chez Jo Jo.
36 Rue Saint Joseph, Gracefield, QC J0X 1W0, Canada
(Google Map it)