It’s been a while since we’ve had poutine. Me three months, he three weeks. The benefits of living with a French Canadian is that when he has his weekly poutine craving, you are able to tag along for some of the cheesy and gravy good stuff. As I have previously written, having tried many a poutine; a variety of fries, a gallery of gravies, and a collection of cheeses; all from a multitude of restaurants and bars, this hands down is my favourite. Though a large influence on my declaration comes from the opinion of the “Frenchy” I was dining with and only come here with. This is his choice for the most authentic and the most true to the Québécois spirit.
It was a modest setting, a mix of bar and community centre. Yellow to orange walls, accented in red. With what you would imagine as traditional and cliche Quebec memorabilia was present. A Canadianens flag, pendants, and signs. Signed and framed GSP pictures and merchandise. And Quebec flags and license plates. Souvenirs the owner brought with him of his old life on the East Coast? There was a lot scattered around in advertisements and signs. It made things feel a little cluttered and kept the place casual. But between a child’s coloured picture and the laminated notes, I am sure it all has meaning.
A few bar stool-ed seats stood before windows facing the side walk, and others sat across from the mirrors that made up a section of the wall. Above them were mounted flat screens showcasing the sports of the day. They were angled for the benefit of those sitting at one of the tall backed booth seats, lining the opposite wall. Having all those seats already taken, we sat ourselves at one of the black tables surrounded by brown chairs in the middle of the room.
You walk in, if busy drop your stuff to claim a table, then stand a feet away from the counter reading what the chalkboard menu over head has to offer. Your choices are separated by “poutine”, “specialty poutine”, and “hot dogs”. A list of fast food done greasy and satisfying included hot chicken, grilled cheese and smoked meat sandwiches; and sides of onion rings and pogos. Here poutine varied by the addition of one or more ingredients. You can put anything in a poutine and it would taste good. Hamburger steak, bacon, peas, eggs, tomato, green peppers, coleslaw, pasta sauce, and even donair meat. Or take your basic gravy and cheese curd and add in whatever you want to have your own customized poutine.
With your poutine they also offer beer and wine. Though I have never had either here. Instead I grab a bottled soft drink out of the help your self style freezer, and use their wall bolted bottle opener to free the cap to take a chug. There are also cupcakes for sale from a local bakery, this would be your only choice for dessert or something sweet. This little glass pedestal and cloche sit just behind the help yourself bottles of ketchup and the jug of water and lemon ready for the self pouring.
The employees working tonight were as casual they were dressed. The owner is who we often see, he is a friendly face who knows his regulars by appearance if not name. He is more attentive than the young man working the counter tonight. Today we had some part timers who just could not care less. The cashier kept us waiting to order as he had to finish something on his phone. We watched him text before he leaned on the register and addressed us with his profile. Not once did he look us in the face or meet our attention with his eyes. His bad attitude was evident and ever present from the time we ordered to the time he had to serve. When not engaged he waited for business, chin on palm, elbow on counter.
“Onion rings”. We are on the eternal search for the best onion rings. To date these are closest to the ones that kindled this love affair on the beach Penticton. Golden brown, the perfect fry without that oily taste. Crispy and best eaten hot. A little too perfect in cut, that I suspect they were purchased frozen.
“Grilled dog” with mayo and ketchup. I prefer a grilled dog over the steamed variety any day. The grill gives it an extra crisp skin and an additional char. They toast the bun to give things a cohesive warmth. Though as tasty as this was it is just a regular hot dog. No better than the street meat you get from carts on corners.
After trying a number of their poutines: finding the “Italian” too tomatoey and the “galvaude” cold with frozen peas, I have vowed to stick to the original and one true version of the poutine. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I don’t find any one new ingredient added more beneficial to the winning base. To me you can’t improve on this already perfect late night craving, junk food loving mix. This is their classic: crisp fries, meaty gravy, and squeaky cheese. And when you are craving a poutine nothing satisfies like this one, and there is no heartier a size than the large severe in a tin foiled to go tray. But every time we come we ask for there to be less gravy in our portion, and each time there is still that race to finish things before the crisp fries get soggy and over saturated. What remains is a pool of brown deemed inedible.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
As I have already stated this is my favourite spot for poutine. Though there are times in my cravings that make I want a thicker more potato-y fry or a different flavoured gravy all together. But I find that at the end of the day I always come back to “La Belle Patate” and they satisfy majority of my cravings. This is the most authentic Quebec style poutine in Vancouver. Take the word of a French Canadian who has gone out of his way to try it all. Don’t deny your cravings.