Last week we drove up in a family convoy to my in-laws’ fishing cottage on Lac-à-la-truite in Charlevoix. They have a habit of stopping for poutine at a roadside casse-croûte outside Baie-Saint-Paul called Aux 4 Vents (The Four Winds).
Conventional knowledge has it that these small town shack à patates generally serve up a mean poutine. This one had the added bonus of being set up in a converted retro Airstream with a ramshackle shed tacked onto it, all of this within spitting distance of a Shell station.
It was even better on the inside: fake wood veneer, cushioned baby-blue leatherette seats, and some crucifixes and tiny televisions at each end.
We were there for the Pogo (corn dog) festival, which seems to be a year-round thing (best avoided).
Fries: Homemade fries with a slightly sweet taste. Nice and fluffy, but a little limp and lacking crispiness outside. Quite tasty though, which makes up for the sauce’s lack of taste. 23/30.
Gravy: Good liaising agent between the cheese and fries, but lacking taste. Not salty enough, perhaps. A good quantity and consistency though the temperature is a little high. Thankfully it was cold enough outside that it cooled down fast and did not affect the cheese. “Je l’aime mieux plus brune que ça,” said my father-in-law (I like it more brown). 27/50.
Cheese: Any city east of Saint Hyacinthe is bound to have better curds than the week old industrial microchunks served in most Montreal restaurants. One of the reasons for this is the fact that there are squeaky cheese makers every 20 miles or so in eastern Quebec, and none in the greater Montreal area. Baie-Saint-Paul is doubly blessed as it is home to the Economusée du fromage, where you can learn all about the art of making squeaky cheese. Not too far away, you can also get some more refined cheeses like Migneron. In short, the cheese is damn good and very fresh, but they’re a bit stingy on quantity. 17/20.
TOTAL SCORE: 67/100
Verdict: They need to work on the sauce. It’s still worth a stop for a burger and fries, though, especially if you can sit in the Airstream. Oh, and don’t forget to stop off for some fresh cheese at the Laiterie Charlevoix.
Value: Very good – $4.90 taxes included for a proper size poutine.
Location: 1600 boulevard Monseigneur de Laval, Baie-Saint-Paul, Québec