You can’t visit Montreal without having a couple of poutines when you are there. Almost every restaurant and cafe has their own version and take on the Canadian classic. But if you are looking for the best and one of the most authentic, apparently La Banquise Poutinere is the place to go, since 1968.
The cafe is easy to locate street side with its orange awning and decorative windows looking in. A cartoon composite of a bowl of poutine with smoke curls wafting up marks the spot.
Inside the cafe is lively. The space is given a rustic vibe with plank plastered walls, wooden pallet set at the back of their booth seats, and faux branches hung on the ceiling to mimic roots of a tree. It does not read as being all that cohesive, but did give the feeling of a wooded Quebec clearing in winter.
We would grab a table by the window. Each table top is painted in bold colours with patterns of flowers, trees, leaves, and Spider-Man. Our’s was the restaurant’s mascot, an orange deer seated cross legged, enjoying their classic poutine and a steamie. Each table is preset with squeeze bottles of ketchup and packets of mayonnaise for you to dress your poutine or hot dog as you please.
Given that this was our very first visit we opted to their poutine in its purist fashion: La Classique. Thick-cut, crispy on the outside, soft at the centre russet potato fries, a generous portion of squishy Montreal-made Cheese curds, and their runny savoury gravy. As is the case, I find with all poutines, the first bite is the best bite. The cheese is at its gooiest and pulls in stringy lines as you lift from dish to mouth. It was tasty, but I cannot be certain that it is the best poutine that I have ever had.
Outside of the basic format, La Banquise Poutinere also has 30 plus flavoured poutines and additional seasonal offerings to consider. A bevy of toppings in various combinations from onions to peas, ground beef to mushrooms. The world is your oyster as potatoes provide the ideal base to anything.
To get the full experience we also tried one of these specialty poutines. This is The Shoot-Out, a meat lover’s dream. The same poutine base as above but with the addition of smoked meat, bacon, spicy sausage, and pepperoni. The mound of meat needed some tang to help balance out the salt. Here, the tabletop ketchup and mayo helped. But overall, I found the addition unnecessary. I like a poutine as is, and maybe with peas, because I love peas.
I would recommend ordering one of their hotdogs or burgers instead and simply having the classic poutine as its side. No one needs this much fries, gravy, and cheese in one sitting. Although, having said that many patrons around us ordered large servings and ate the whole of it for a meal. We ordered the regular size for the two above.
Seeing as my guest has never had a steamie before, I wanted him to try it today. It is the Quebec way to prepare a hotdog. Instead of rotating it over the grill, you steam the dog so it’s soft and chewy and more in line with the texture of the bun, that it will eventually be laid to rest in. From here you dress as you please. We dressed our coleslaw topped dog with all the table fixings. Overall, nothing all that special or unique, just a retelling of something you are already familiar with, to make it appear all new.
In closing, if you are to visit Montreal and want to know where to go to try their signature dish, check out La Banquise Poutinere for authentic poutines as well as fun remakes since 1968.
La Banquise Poutinere
994 Rue Rachel E, Montréal, QC H2J 2J3, Canada