Last week I took a trip through Quebec’s poutine heartland, the Bois Francs region. This is where poutine was invented back in the 1950s. Unfortunately, it is also one of the uglier regions of Quebec. Think flat farmland, strip malls, 1960s bungalows, and asbestos mining. But it also has lots of fromageries. Not the kind that make artisanal award-winning raw milk cheese that stink up your house – you’ll have to go to more scenic regions of Quebec for that. I’m talking about industrial dairy factories that produce squeaky poutine cheese and soft-serve ice cream for the local population. But don’t let that turn you off. This squeaky cheese is outstanding. It pales in comparison to anything you’ll find in Montreal or even Quebec City, chunks the size of Texas that squeal in your mouth with every bite.
Fromagerie Victoria, in Victoriaville, was recommended to me by a local. It’s an institution around these parts. The parking lot was packed with people when we got there in the evening, mostly young families off for a Sunday-night sundae. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed but we soon discovered that we could still get a poutine at the drive-thru. What a blessing!
Fries: Like oven-cooked frozen fries. Starchy, not too crisp, and tasteless. 17/30.
Gravy: I was given the choice between douce (mild) and BBQ sauce. The latter generally means that sickly sweet smoky red stuff that overpowers other ingredients, so I went for what seemed like a more classic option. Mild is an overstatement however. This sauce is so mild it tastes like salt water. “This is tasteless,” exclaimed my girlfriend, “but the color and texture are homogenous, I suppose.” The temperature and quantity were right too. 29/50.
Cheese: Wow! This cheese is outstanding! Montrealers need to come out here, if only to see how they’re being shortchanged with the second-rate crumbly crap on their so-called poutines. This is the real deal, freshly made, huge chunks, loud squeaks, and plenty of it. 21/20 (too good to be true).
TOTAL SCORE: 67/100
Verdict: Avoid the sauce douce poutine and buy some cheese instead.
Value: Average – $6.85 for plate pictured above.
Location: 101 rue de l’Aqueduc, Victoriaville, QC