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 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!