It’s Poutine Time, Folks! 

A delicious festival to remember.

Nirosh Saravanan, Contributor 

It’s time to put on your toques and boots, and grab some local takes on a Canadian classic. With the Poutine Festival on its way, it is time to unravel what, exactly, the formula is for a good poutine.   

  • The gravy must be hot. The warmth should cause the cheese curds to melt onto the fries below, and make it delicious.  
  • The cheese must be in the form of curds, nothing else will do. It is not poutine without the curds.  
  • The fries must be hot, crisp and ideally, fresh. Fries that are made at the time of your order stand out due to their moist, crisp and hot nature. A thicker cut is the best option. 

The Poutine Festival has three participating restaurants in Vancouver, Bells & Whistles, Fable Diner and the Canadian Brewhouse in Richmond, along with others around the world. From Feb. 1-7, visitors can vote for their favourite spot on the Poutine Festival website. 

Fable Diner 

Fable Diner in Vancouver was the first restaurant put to the test. It had an inviting atmosphere, with a modern take on 50s decor. It’s definitely a spot you cannot miss if you love posting food to your Instagram.   

  • Gravy: The gravy was pleasant. It had a fluffy texture, not common to poutine gravies, but it was a welcome exception. The gravy had a hint of garlic which added to its complexion. The only detraction was the temperature. While warm enough to melt down the curds, it was not quite enough. A hotter gravy would have made it much better. 
  • Fries: The fries were good, but some were undercooked.  
  • Cheese: The curds were quite standard. It is hard to find curds that stand out as most restaurants use the same brand. 

Bells & Whistles 

Next, was disco fries at Bells & Whistles. To clarify, disco fries are not poutine. Calling disco fries poutine would be like calling soup tea. Both are delicious, but they are not the same thing. Though, for the festival, Bells & Whistles will offer poutine. 

  • Gravy: The gravy was very pleasant and added heat. It had a fluffy texture as the gravy’s heat came from both the temperature and the spice. It easily melted the shredded cheese onto the fries, binding the three ingredients into a delicious mouthful. 
  • Fries: The fries were cooked evenly and completely! 
  • Cheese: Due to disco fries’ nature, they did not use cheese curds, but the cheese was definitely a welcome addition. 

Canadian Brewhouse & Grill 

At the Canadian Brewhouse & Grill in Richmond, you get a little Alexa-like device to call your waiter. The restaurant is a sensory overload as it has many screens playing the latest games and music, as well as a stuffed menu. Canadian décor, from a poster of the Trailer Park Boys to a carving of a canoe, will greet you as you arrive.  

  • Gravy: The gravy was pleasantly warm – lighter and more consistent in texture compared to the other two restaurants. The temperature was hot enough to melt the curds, but did not sear your mouth which was a more traditional approach.  
  • Fries: The Brewhouse did not mess with the classic preparation as the fries here were cooked well. 
  • Cheese: The poutine here came with both cheese curds and extra shredded cheese. The shredded cheese was a great addition to the overall experience of eating the poutine and made it excellent.  

Now, you might ask: should I participate in the Poutine Festival? Absolutely! It is an awesome way to scout Vancouver, which is a city with a very active culinary scene. Everyone has different tastes. To find your perfect poutine, visit these three restaurants and vote for your favourite online. May the best poutine win!

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