Ever since I started this blog, I’ve been telling myself I should try some of the big-chain corporate poutines out there. Unfortunately, life is too short to waste your time at places like McDonald’s, and I don’t want to shorten it even more by actually eating there. Last week, on a ride between Quebec City and Montreal, the driver stopped at one of those soulless chain store truck stops by the side of the highway to grab a coffee at Tim Horton’s. I was stranded and hungry. If there’s one thing I dislike more than McDonald’s, it’s Tim Horton’s (and their attempt to reduce our national identities to overly sweet coffee and terrible donuts), so here was my chance. Upon entering McDonald’s for the first time in twenty years, I was shocked to find that poutine was no longer on the menu. Luckily, it turns out the displayed menu has no relation to what the restaurant actually sells. I got my complimentary smile, grabbed my take-out bag, and ran out to eat my McPoutine.
Category Archives: Lanaudière
Last weekend I went to Joliette, a small city 50 km northeast of Montreal. Founded in the 1820s under the evocative name “L’Industrie,” the city still has a large tire factory and “the biggest gravel quarry in the region.” The central area is a strange mix of charming heritage buildings and horrendously tacky 1980s postmodern crap. One of the ugliest buildings in town houses what may be the best small art museum in the province. This surprising museum would be enough to justify a visit, but there’s also Restaurant Henri (AKA Chez Henri).
Chez Henri is a local legend. This 24-hour restaurant draws people from surrounding towns for its famous fries. Located on Joliette’s main fast food strip, Chez Henri was the only restaurant with nary a place to park. The mascot is an adorable large one-armed orange “H” with a crown (available as a stuffed toy for only $10). I first heard about Chez Henri in this cheesy 1991 CBC-TV feature about poutine, an interesting period piece from the days before poutine became legendary and English Canadians appropriated it as their own creation.