Although Val Belair has been part of Quebec City since 2002, the former “Ville de la nature” feels like the boonies. 23 km from downtown, it is the last bit of questionable civilization before hundreds of miles of vast hinterland. People get around in oversized pick-up trucks and park snowmobiles on the front porches of their pink vinyl bungalows (circa 1989). A few old farmhouses have not yet been swallowed by the ugly sprawl of boulevard Pie IX, the suburb’s main drag, but it shouldn’t take too long. Unsurprisingly, the parking lot is full and the bike racks are empty.
Patates Plus may be one of the oldest businesses in Val Belair. It’s certainly a source of local pride. The building looks like an old Dairy Queen on steroids. I love the slanted 70s lower-case neon “patates” in a pseudo-bauhaus typeface (though, from a design standpoint, the cursive “plus” doesn’t work well with it and the spacing is wonky).
“Support our troops” stickers are rare outside of English Canada, but this place not only has one on its front door, it also has a memorial to fallen soldiers inside the restaurant – a reminder that the Valcartier military base is only a short drive up the road.
Inside the restaurant, near the revolutionary fork dispenser, is a laminated photo of a businessman posing like an empire-builder: sharp piercing gaze, dark suit, and hands spread out across a desk. Florent Montreuil is not only the founder of Patates Plus, HE LORDS OVER VAL BELAIR AND ALL OF OUR PUNY LITTLE LIVES.
Fries: The fries have a lightly sweet caramelized taste, a slight crisp, and a decent size. They are the best part of this poutine, but don’t get too excited. These are good fries, but hardly exceptional. They are a bit dark and wrinkly, indicating that the oil could use a change. 23/30
Gravy: There is a good amount of sauce, and the temperature is ideal, but it tastes a bit drab. No surprises here – some extra flavoring to personalize this gravy wouldn’t hurt. 31/50
Cheese: A decent amount of good-sized chunks. Unfortunately, the cheese is a little too soft, no squeak, and the drab sauce doesn’t do anything to liven it up. 14/20
Verdict: Not worth the detour.
Price: Sizes are the same as what you get at Chez Ashton, but prices are higher.
Location: Patates Plus, 1111, boul. Pie XI Nord, Val-Bélair, QC, G3K 2S8