La Banquise was recently named the best place in the world to get a poutine by Travel & Leisure magazine. This is no small statement. Unlike other fast food joints in the city, they put their poutine front and center, offering over 20 different variations on the dish. It’s become a famous late night spot for hip young students, who can order a microbrew with their poutine in a colorful casual atmosphere.
I decided to try their standard poutine, without the bells and whistles. If they can get the foundation right, the rest surely follows. Unfortunately, the hype did not stand up to my rigorous scientific analysis.
Fries: On my first visit, the fries had a pleasant sweet taste, not too greasy, but lacking crispness on the outside and undercooked on the inside. On my second visit, the fries were better, properly cooked on the outside but still a bit too firm on the inside 17-19/30.
Gravy: The right texture, quantity, and temperature. A bit too salty and intense, however – this is fine at first but soon begins to overwhelm the other tastes. They also have a vegetarian gravy, but it’s not as good and was quite lumpy when I tried it. 38/50.
Cheese: Good squeak, but most chunks aren’t big enough. A little more cheese wouldn’t hurt. 15/20.
TOTAL SCORE: 70-72/100
Verdict: Better than the Montreal average, but hardly the best in the world. The ambivalent taste extremes of sweet fry with salty gravy dominate the palate, lacking a certain complexity found in other poutines (though you wouldn’t notice if you were drunk). This restaurant’s reputation is built on the variety offered rather than quality.
Value: Average – $5.60 for plate pictured above.
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Location: 994 Rue Rachel Est, Montreal, QC H2J 2J3, (514) 525-2415