Although poutine was once regarded as a national embarrassment, Martin Picard is famous for giving the dish its “lettres de noblesse” over a decade ago. He reinvented the cholesterol-heavy dish by adding a chunk of fancy foie-gras, making it even unhealthier. This had the added effect of simultaneously blurring the lines between high and low food culture. Kudos to Picard. It was a clever reinvention.
Unfortunately, this led to an increasingly tiresome wave of copycat chefs reinventing poutine by slapping some additional novelty ingredient on top – everything from duck confit, to roast beef & stilton, to Vietnamese bahn-mi toppings. Many of these designer poutines would not taste very good if you reduced them to the three base ingredients – they rarely use squeaky-fresh cheese, for instance – but adding that slab of foofiness distracts us from the poorly-executed base. I don’t like the idea that you can only elevate poutine by adding some expensive bling to it. Bling is easy – although this added chunk of fatty foie gras felt clever a decade ago, it is looking increasingly bling these days.
I think it’s time to go back to basics. The real chef’s challenge is getting that base perfectly right: making sure the fries have enough crisp and taste, sourcing a place that will provide big chunks of day-fresh squeaky cheese instead of the usual crumbly industrial foodservice distributor crap served up in Montreal restaurants (hint: go to the Bois-Francs), and whipping up the perfect home-made gravy with drippings to make those other ingredients shine. I have tasted many celebrity-chef poutines and have yet to see a chef get those three things right.
Fries: Good texture, flavour, crisp, and the right amount of salt, but the fries were served cold. 27/30.
Gravy: A rich, creamy and unctuous gravy with a good mix of spices. Unfortunately, it was even colder than the fries. Two of the people trying out this poutine said the richness of the sauce lost its novelty and started getting to them after a while. But it’s a good sauce, they just need to check the temperature before serving it. 43/50.
Cheese: The cheese is buried under the fries and foie gras, which is the old-school “Montérégie” way of serving poutine. I do not favor this approach because burying the cheese makes it lose its squeak and melt. If you’re using fresh cheese, I think you should let it shine and put most of it on top. Unfortunately, the cheese on this poutine probably deserves to be buried deep because most of the chunks are pathetically small and none of them have that same-day fresh squeak. Also, the cheese-to-fries/gravy ratio is piss-poor, and adding a slab of foie gras does not make up for this. A few properly-sized chunks almost makes up for this cheese failure. 11/20.
Extras: The foie gras does not add much taste-wise, but it does make the poutine more expensive. All four people who tried this said they would have preferred more cheese and less foie-gras, but – in all fairness – none of us are foie gras aficionados. -5 points.
Verdict: Unless you’re a die-hard foie gras fan, this poutine will probably feel overpriced. It’s tasty, but the base ingredients need some fine-tuning and the food truck needs a thermometer. Everything else we tried from this food truck – including the home-made sodas – was downright outstanding, so it’s still worth tracking down.
Value: Expensive – $8 for a very small portion, but foie gras is expensive and any more fat would probably be dangerous to your health.
Location: Varies. Click here to see where it is today, or pay even more at their permanent address.