February 11, 2013
Montreal’s first Poutine Week seemed to have been a big success. Over 30 restaurants took part, putting out poutines en masse for the public’s vote. I had big poutine-plans at the beginning of the week, but really, it’s hard to eat a lot of poutine! In the end, I made it to two restaurants to try their entries in the big poutine contest: Fabergé’s “breakfast poutine” and Blackstrap BBQ’s “burnt ends poutine.” Who won?
For our first poutine, we wandered out into the cold, windy Saturday morning (early afternoon) to try out Fabergé on Fairmount and their breakfast poutine. I have been wanting to try this poutine for a long long time now, ever since I had first seen a photo of it on Foodspotting. It seems like an almost natural dish – potatoes, topped with cheese, hollandaise sauce and an egg? Sounds ideal to me.
After a brief wait for a seat in the bustling, busy restaurant, we settled in and planned our meal. Three breakfast poutines and a plate of fried chicken and waffles, and plenty of coffee….The fried chicken and waffles was a pretty lackluster dish – the chicken, while crunchy and crisp, was bland and there were only three tiny chicken nuggets on the plate. The waffles were thick and nice, and the housemade BBQ sauce had a great tang, but overall, a pretty boring plate. It also came with a mound of potatoes, but given that each of us a bowl the size of our heads filled with potatoes, we didn’t even touch it.
But, our reason for even going – the breakfast poutine! A mound of seasoned and roasted breakfast potatoes, caramelized red peppers and onions, bacon ($2 extra), lots of cheese curds, a velvety hollandaise sauce, all topped with an egg, its yolk just waiting to be burst. I really liked the idea, and mostly enjoyed the poutine. However, it’s texture was unappealing after a little bit…everything was just soft and mushy. Something with a bit of crunch may have made it a little more interesting. However, cheese, hollandaise and eggs…how can there be anything really wrong in there?
Later in the week, we went to try out Blackstrap BBQ. I’ve been wanting to try this place ever since it opened and given they were taking part, I finally got out there.. It appeared as though the restaurant was often running out of the poutine, so we ran out right after work to get there in time. Our efforts were not wasted.
Blackstrap BBQ is a few blocks down from the de L’Eglise metro station in Verdun. It’s not a very big place, but it is warm and welcoming. For our meal here, we opted to share the burnt ends poutine, a ½ rack of ribs and the deep fried macaroni and cheese.
The poutine was a star! The fries were excellent – many of them still crispy, thanks to their triple fry, but the ones under all the deep dark gravy were soaking up just the right amount of moisture. The cheese curds were enormous, and some of the best curds I’ve had on poutine in this city. But the best part were the rib tips, some slightly charred, some actually perfectly cooked, swimming in the gravy. This was a champion poutine and my obvious winner in the is poutine battle of two.
The ribs, a dry-rubber version served with some pickles and onions and sweet and spicy sauces, were equally stellar. These are not those messy, juicy ribs that require eighteen napkins. Nope, these are tender, pull-off-the-bone, and only need about four napkins. Loved them, and I was more.
The deep fried macaroni was also right up there. Super-crispy outside, so creamy on the inside, and perfect with a squeeze of that sweet BBQ sauce. I am looking forward to making my way to Blackstrap BBQ again to sample the rest of the goods.
The obvious winner for me was the burnt ends poutine at Blackstrap BBQ, but I did appreciate the fight.