Patati Patata: Perfect Poutine
Poutine is a distinctly Canadian dish, one that makes fellow Canadians defensive when served terribly abroad. I remember ordering poutine at a random coffee/dessert place in GK I in New Delhi called Mocha and being appalled to see it served with cold fries and Alfredo sauce. If people think this is poutine, I thought then, they would think Canadians have terrible taste; our national pride is thus being put into question.
So how do I like my poutine? Easy. I like poutine with crispy, thin, salty fries, hot gravy, and squeaky cheese curds. These three ingredients are the essential components of poutine; mess up one component, and you end up messing up the entire dish.
My first ever foray into orgasmic poutine territory was when I went to La Banquise in Montreal, where I had poutine covered in smoked meat. It was so good that I ended up inhaling the entire dish in about five minutes, decorum be damned. In an attempt to replicate this experience in Toronto, I’ve become a frequent visitor of places like Smoke’s. Sadly, I’ve since realized that while Smoke’s has poutine that’s not bad, Smoke’s does not even merit comparisons with poutine in Montreal.
Specifically, the poutine served in Patati Patata in Montreal is a far superior dish to Smoke’s and even La Banquise. What Smoke’s and La Banquise does is they hide the deficiencies of each of the three essential ingredients (gravy, fries, and cheese curds) by subsuming it with other ingredients. Thus, the three essential ingredients become supporting cast members, with ingredients as varied as bacon, sausage, curry (?), etc., becoming the star actors. This isn’t the way poutine should be served! Poutine, by its very definition, should be judged on the excellence of its gravy, fries, and cheese curds. Whenever I eat poutine at Smoke’s and La Banquise, I end up consuming all the other accoutrements first, with the gravy, fries, and cheese curds coming last. This isn’t the way poutine should be eaten!
As Patati Patata shows, the gravy, fries, and cheese curds should be the point of the dish. And I can say with utmost certainty that never before have I tasted such light yet substantial and textured gravy, such brilliant fries that were just on the right side of being salty and crispy, and such squeakily amazing cheese curds. Put together, this poutine, at a mere cost of $4, was a steal. The other ingredients we added, which included mushrooms, peppers, red onions, and a perfect black olive, only served to enhance the dish. It also made us feel a little bit better for eating vegetables (i.e., being healthy) amidst all the fatty ingredients.
Another good dish that visitors to Patati Patata should check out is the onion soup au gratin, which was perfect for a cold winter’s day.
They also serve a mean coffee! I was less enamoured with the burgers, which are more appropriately thought of as sliders, but hey, they’re $2 each (with 50 cents extra for cheese) so the cost more than makes up for what I saw as an absence of flavour in the beef patty. In any case, these minor criticisms don’t matter. Go to Patati Patata for the poutine. You won’t be disappointed!