With swimsuit season finally here, what better time to put our tastebuds (and waist sizes) to the test with a good ol’ fashioned poutine faceoff? The mission: To see how established Toronto poutine dealer Smoke’s Poutinerie would fare against newbie Poutini’s House of Poutine, and whether either of these could satisfy our penchant for the product. So, with an appetite for answers we set off to compare these two purveyors of the quintessentially Canadian mix of fries, gravy, and cheese.
The first stop was Smoke’s, located on Adelaide above burrito legend Burrito Boyz (a two-storey combo that’s any dieter’s nightmare). As a veteran in the Toronto poutine scene (if you can call it that, Smoke’s opened in November 2008), Smoke’s has built up an impressive menu of unique poutine styles incorporating pork, beef, chicken, and vegetarian choices.
The purist in us ordered the traditional serving, but it was hard not to try unholy creations like the Hogtown, which is laced with double-smoked bacon, Italian sausage, roasted mushrooms, and caramelized onions. Smoke’s prides itself on having cheese curds brought in from a dairy farm in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. This region is renowned for producing fine French cheese – the kind that has that distinctive “squeak” noise when you chew it. Even though Smoke’s serves up its fair share of cheese (you’ll get a curd with every bite), they didn’t taste as fresh as hoped. The Yukon Gold fries are a bit too soft, a drawback in the poutine experience if you enjoy the occasional crunchy fry. In any case, for $5.45 we got a pretty hefty serving of traditional artery-clogging goodness.
Fast forward (and westward) to Poutini’s House of Poutine, which opened last month near Queen and Dovercourt. Poutini’s cheese hails from Maple Dale Cheese Farms in Ontario, which supplies fresh curds daily. You can taste the freshness, and the difference, here. Like Smoke’s, Poutini’s doesn’t go cheap on the cheese helpings either, and some of the curds are even the size of a finger.
The gravy (which comes in either regular or vegetarian) is creamy with just the right amount of salt. Poutini’s fries are authentic Prince Edward Island spuds, and this maritime delicacy merges well into the poutine mix. And they’re crispy. Even with a regular-sized serving ($6.19, slightly more and slightly larger than at Smoke’s) and sample of a small veggie poutine, you’ll be able to walk away with a surprisingly less bloated feeling than at Smoke’s.
The Verdict: Smoke’s and Poutini’s were both able to stimulate taste buds, but in very different ways. Smoke’s works by offering non-traditional poutines that are surefire hits with the 4am crowd, while Poutini’s comes as close to an authentic Quebec poutine as you’ll ever see. Therefore, in our quest for the best (or better) poutine, the West Queen West newcomer Poutini’s comes out on top.
What do you think is the best poutine this city has to offer? New challengers welcome.