“I don’t do poutine,” said Chef with a grin that showed off the gums of his loose dentures. “A poutine is just a snack. I do poutine meals.”
Chef is full of such pithy aphorisms. Chef looks like an outcast in a David Lynch movie or a Daniel Clowes comic. He is the owner of Resto Chef Café, an unusual restaurant in a converted garage on the border of the Huron-Wendat reserve. A word of warning: don’t get Chef started on how the natives chased him out of the reserve. Less contentious topics include the “old hand-cut wood from 1645” that graces the interior of his garage. He will also happily regale you with his thoughts on the benefits of serving poutine in stainless steel dishes and the reasons for suspending condiments in plastic trays.
If this is your first visit, Chef will insist you try his special sauce before he lets you order. He takes a sadistic delight in seeing diners squirm as they swallow his “puree made with home-grown all-natural organic red savina habanero peppers: 577,000 on the Scoville scale.” Chef told us that it is best not to give this sauce to the ladies since “this will make you understand what it means to have a well-lit cigar” if she gets down on her knees to perform oral sex. He also talked about the dangers of the “hot teabag effect” when trying to pleasure yourself after working with habanero peppers. It’s always nice to hear the cook talk about fondling his sack right before he cooks your meal.
After making you suffer, Chef may agree to take your order. There is only one item on the menu: the “poutine repas gastronomique du chef.” I asked for a plain poutine without all the extra toppings. Chef would have none of it. Chef is a man with principles. It’s best to do as he says. Go with the combo. There’s no other choice. His poutine is topped with a grilled mix of pepperoni, onions, peppers, bacon, beef, and mushrooms.
I liked the DIY aspect of this poutine. All the ingredients are served separately, allowing you to mix them up yourself. Chef’s method ensures that you can dish out small amounts at a time so your fries stay crisp and the cheese doesn’t melt.
While you’re dining, Chef may try to impress you with some of his tricks. Tell him your name and he’ll spit it back to you in numbers with some impressive homeboy sign language to go with it – “Poutine Pundit” becomes “16-15-21-20-9-14-5 16-21-14-4-9-20.” He can also spell it out in the NATO phonetic alphabet: “Papa Oscar Uniform Tango India etc. etc.”
This short documentary deals with chef and his poutine philosophy.
Fries: The fries look good but they’re limp and oily, lacking crispiness. They are also unsalted. Chef probably expects you to add your own salt using the tiny packets above the table, but it would be nice to have some default saltiness. There are too many fries for the amount of sauce and cheese provided. 17/30.
Gravy: Although Chef begins with a standard brown sauce base, the added ingredients make it tastier. There is a slight piquancy that probably comes from a restrained use of his peppers. The sauce is also livened up with the use of herbs. It is served at just the right temperature and has a nice thick consistency that sticks to the otherwise bland fries. 40/50.
Cheese: Poutines are served with a small bag of Kingsey cheese curds. These were disappointing. The chunks are too small and one small bag is not enough for the amount of fries, sauce, and topping that comes with the poutine. 8/20.
Toppings: The meat is a nice touch, but I don’t like mushrooms and peppers. Chef’s toppings definitely add something to the poutine but does not turn it into a healthy meal, nor do these make up for the alarming lack of cheese. I wish this place would allow me to pay less, have more cheese, and skip the toppings. +4 points
Verdict: Chef’s quirky personality makes it worth at least one trip. However, quantity tends to prevail over quality with regard to the actual food.
Price: Moderate to high – $10-$14 for a complete “meal” including fries, sauce, cheese, mandatory toppings, and a large mandatory soft drink. The price depends on the number of people in your party. Portions are too big – two people can easily share a meal for one. If you’re nice, Chef will probably let you do this.
Opening Hours: Every day from 11AM to 8PM.
Location: 11085 Boulevard Valcartier, Quebec City (Loretteville).