The Burgundy Lion is a British-style gastropub in the up-and-coming Little Burgundy district of Montreal. The atmosphere is pleasant, though lacking the heritage character of the Dominion Square Tavern, my favourite gastropub in town. The menu has lots of British classics (Bangers & Mash, Fish & Chips, Chicken Tikka Masala), all served with a slight local twist.
They also have something called an “English poutine.” Unlike the “Irish Poutine” at McKibbins, which does not offer much in the way of Irish ingredients, this poutine is more coherent in its attempt at fusion cuisine. They use a classic British onion gravy typically reserved for bangers & mash, add a bit of Stilton if you wish, and throw in some traditional roast beef. The chips, however, aren’t exactly your standard thick-cut British version.
Incidentally, I always thought “Yorkshire Poutine” would make a good fusion food – those empty eggy popovers (AKA Yorkshire pudding) are just crying for some fries, cheese, and gravy to liven them up. But I digress…
Fries: Although these are not traditional British chips, they’re damn good. They are more like twice-fried Belgian frites, erratically shaped in a way that maximizes the crispy surface. It’s worth going to this pub for the fries alone. Unfortunately, they have to be eaten fast – by the time I got to the bottom of my poutine dish, the trapped fries tasted like they had suffocated. A smaller portion in a flatter dish would solve this problem. 27/30.
Gravy: Great home-made onion gravy that works quite well with poutine, tastes of thickened stock with some wine thrown in. There is a definite lack of salt, however, which made it taste extremely bland before I went nuts with the shaker. I noticed my dining companions doing the same thing on their dishes. The default saltiness should be a bit higher. Moreover, although they taste nice, the onions mask the subtle flavour of the cheese. 40/50.
Cheese: I was given the option of Stilton, which I turned down because it just seemed dreadfully wrong. I am glad they use real cheese curds regardless of whether you choose Stilton or not, as it is a base ingredient and there really is no substitute. However, given the strong taste of the gravy and fries, the taste of the measly little cheese curds gets drowned out. Gastropubs are all about tracking the best suppliers and, given the hefty price of this poutine, one expects more that these pathetic little curds. You need big thick cheese chunks with day-fresh squeak, not these melty little bland specks. 11/20.
Extras: I had my poutine with extra roast beef and soon realized this was a mistake. It tasted more like beef jerky: tough dry overcooked tasteless chunks that were hard to bite into and seriously hindered my overall enjoyment. -10 points.
ENGLISH POUTINE: 78/100
ENGLISH POUTINE W/ROAST BEEF: 68/100
Verdict: If you avoid the roast beef and sneak in a bag of proper cheese curds, this is a winner.
Value: Grossly overpriced – $17+tax+tip for roast beef poutine and $11 for the regular. Given that this is technically a starter, a smaller portion and lower price would be better.
Location: 2496 Notre Dame St W, 6 minute walk from Lionel-Groulx metro