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French fries and fresh cheese curds smothered in gravy. Those are the only requirements for the fantastically simple dish that is poutine. But that hasn’t stopped forward-thinking chefs from pushing its culinary boundaries with additional over-the-top ingredients — everything from lobster to foie gras. Since the province of Quebec holds the unofficial patent on this amazing treat, it’s only fitting to find the world’s best and most creative poutine in Montreal. Here, we present a brief list of the city’s best poutine joints.
Au Pied de Cochon
Au Pied de Cochon (literally “the foot of the pig”) gained fame in the States when Anthony Bourdain first toured Montreal’s gourmet restaurant scene nearly a decade ago. Chef Martin Picard eschews any notion of “health-conscious” with extraordinarily decadent dishes like foie gras hamburgers, stuffed pied de cochon with foie gras, pig’s head for two, and Quebecois maple sugar pie. But the real get for poutine-lovers is the foie gras poutine. The $24 CAD price tag may seem absurd, but it’s a unique dish you’ll only find in Montreal and it’s rich enough to be your only meal for the day.
Like Au Pied de Cochon, the happening Garde Manger has found a way to make an already over-the-top dish like poutine even more decadent. The restaurant’s head chef, Chuck Hughes, is quite literally world famous among foodies and other chefs for his lobster poutine. The dish won him the Chef America challenge back in 2011 (defeating Bobby Flay in the process) and it’s made the restaurant a worthy destination for food-centric travelers. Its limited seating and “secret” location–tucked into an alley in Old Montreal–make it all the more intriguing.
No self-respecting round-up of great Montreal poutine joints is complete without a mention of La Banquise. This no-frills staple of the city’s late-night food scene is open 24/7 and caters to a largely buzzed crowd after 11 p.m. The extensive menu offers no less than thirty varieties of poutine, from traditional to extravagant. Purists will argue that the La Classique is the only way to go, while more adventurous eaters will appreciate specialties like La T-Rex (steak haché, pepperoni, bacon, and hot-dog).
(Photo via Flickr)