Clinton’s Monday, Apr 28 2008 

On Saturday Toronto was lucky enough to be hit with a transit strike. I decided to take this opportunity to walk an obscene amount into areas I have spent little to no time in before. Getting a little famished we were up by Bloor and Christie – the only time I’m ever in this area it’s via the subway. So I would normally get off at Ossington Station, walk a block or 2 east to Hits & Misses, buy a bunch of records and then get back on the subway. In lieu of the strike we kept walking east – I was secretly hoping to trick my girlfriend to go to Manic Coffee for the best cappuccino that you can get in this city…sadly, we never ended up at Manic but I did end up with wicked awesome sunglasses and a chocolate chip cookie dough blizzard! … but I digress.
 
While walking east on Bloor we came to this place called Clinton’s on the south west corner of Bloor and…wait for it…wait for it…Clinton (tada!) at 693 Bloor Street. I’ve heard that they have a rad dance party there called Shake A Tail  every Saturday…but I have yet to go despite my efforts or more appropriately the lack thereof. I have actually never been to Clinton’s prior to this adventure and to be 100% honest, I did not even know that we were in Clinton’s until we received proper menus! The only reason why I went in was because it looked kind of pub-like (I originally wrote pubby but thought it might come off us pubey) so I read the menu outside, saw a poutine on it the menu and knew that it was go time!
 

 
First things first: price and portion. For $5.25 I was not expecting much in terms of size and quality. Instead I got a poutine that I was able to finish but was left nicely satiated for a mere $5.25…which is awesome! Poutine and a pint of 50  for about $12 tax and tip included. Calice que c’est pas pire pour une poutine et une bonne cinquante, tabernacle!
 
The gravy was ok. I mean it was not great but it was far from being horrible. To be fair, it was relatively tasty but a little too thick for a proper poutine. Thankfully it was not fucking gelatinous – I don’t think I would have been able to deal with that again! I guess one of the cool things about it, which I would like to pass on to the vegetarian kids reading this is that it’s advertised as vegetarian friendly gravy. Actually, while on the topic, Clinton’s offers a nice range of veg friendly options. But again – I digress.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen, one thing that I was really stoked on…well two things…
 
1)       They Layered! There was a consistent and appropriate amount of gravy and cheese from top to  bottom. I dug a hole (see below) to see how I’d be doing closer to the finale and was relieved that it was properly constructed. 

LAYERS
 
 
2)       I assume, and sincerely hope, that this was obvious in the above pictures but! CHEEEEEEEEESE CURDSSSSSS! They actually used cheese curds! First time in my poutine eating endeavors since I got to Toronto (most of which, unfortunately, are not documented in this blog) are with shredded or grated cheese. BUT CLINTON’S USES CHEESE CURDS! This, my friends, is what we call “the bomb-shit”! TAKE NOTE, TORONTO!
 
 
In true Toronto poutine fashion, despite the descent gravy and curds, this is not an awesome poutine. The fries were a total disappointment. It just blows my mind how pubs/restaurants/whatever just deep fry frozen fries. Totally was a buzz kill to the otherwise promising poutine! For some reason it just dawned on me – what if Clinton’s or a Clinton regular gets back at me with a comment or an email and is like “OMGZ ur stoooopid! They iz fresssssh not frozun!!! LOLOLOL”. I will reply to that now: “If those fries are not just frozen deep fried fries and are legitimately fresh then I will either a) drop off a dictionary ASAP or b) admit that I’m wrong and burn off my taste buds with a curling iron because I suck at life. However, I’m willing to predict that I will just go with Plan A. Fuck Plan B – never settle for Plan B.

 

LAST BITE

Quick Recap!
Fries: Not absolutely horrible, but not good. I’m just not done with deep frying frozen fries. FRESH CUT, SON!
Gravy: Not great but good – a little to thick for a proper poutine, but tasty. Also it’s advertised as vegetarian friendly which is a plus for some.
Cheese: CURDS! YES! EXTRA POINTS!
Price: great price not only for the portion but for the quality. This is a poutine that, despite my complaints, I would be ok with paying more for…but not much more! I was also nicely satiated – no waste!  
 
I’m not going to lie either, I was pleasantly surprised with my poutine overall. This was, of course, positive but really annoying at the same time! “Why this be annoying?” you ask. Well, my friend, it’s annoying because I was not supposed to find remotely good poutine in Toronto this quickly. So while it was not great, it was enjoyable (despite the fries – because, let’s be honest, it could be worse!) none the less. I said on Saturday as we left and as we met up with other people that it was enjoyable and the first relatively good poutine I have had since my arrival in Toronto. If I’m in the mood for an enjoyable poutine, as it stands at the time of this writing, I will make the trip back to Clinton’s to chow down. That said, I was also almost tempted to cancel the curdsade. I was beginning to think that this was as close as I would get to a legitimate poutine in Toronto. However, I’m nothing if not thorough and so…the saga continues…POU-TINE! POU-TINE!

Sneaky Dee’s Wednesday, Apr 23 2008 

Sneaky Dee’s (http://www.sneaky-dees.com/) is located at 431 College Street – right on the south east corner of College & Bathurst. Seeing as just about everyone in Toronto that I have met knows about, has been and/or frequents Sneaky Dee’s I’ll spare you review of the place as a whole. Basically if you want to meet up with people and have drinks and nachos, I can’t think of a better place.

 

I had heard in the past that Dee’s had a poutine and that it was mediocre but good when under the influence or when you’re hung-over…as is often the case with poutine. To be perfectly honest, I never meant for Sneaky Dee’s to get the inaugural poutine. I was there anyways to meet some friends last night and it hit me – I’m on a quest for curds. So I got the poutine.

 Sneaky Dee\'s Poutine

 When they sat this plate in front of me I thought a few things – mainly that it’s a good sized portion. Considering that the menu advertises the poutine at $7.25, I was a little relieved that there was a lot on the plate. Also at first glance, I noticed that some thick gravy was present…this did not bode well already.

 

I grab a hefty first bite and I’m pretty sure my mouth contorted like I just took a tablespoon full of salt – which in retrospect I probably did.

 

So I start to dig around and get my eat on and then the thick gravy gets mad thick…from the corner of my eye I spot something quite unappealing:

 

gelatinous

Why the fuck is there a disgusting, gelatinous chunk of sauce on my poutine?! This is why (in my humble opinion) that you traditionally use thin gravy for a poutine – to avoid being even more disgusted by your mountain of sloppy heart attack piled before you.

 

However,  I pick out any/all gelatinous gravy that I see, take one for the team and keep eating.

  

I’m definitetly not a fan of the fries at Sneaky Dee’s. All around, they just don’t do it for me.

 

French FryPlease forgive the awful picture – I was (and am) currently limited in my photographic resources. But I digress. The fries as a whole are bitter and overly salty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for sugar coated fries, but I’m also not looking to get kidney stones after eating a plate of fucking potatoes.

 

 All three basic ingredients to the classic poutine are equally important in making it delicious. However, few will disagree that while cheese is one of these essential ingredients, it can’t just be any cheese. Just like you wouldn’t use a green pepper to make a hot sauce, you don’t use any mozzarella to make a good poutine.

 

This is something that I have found in Toronto and will continue to document. Just like the above, many establishments tend to think that just about any cheese will do. WRONG. No curds, nine times out of ten, results in no good. Seriously.

 

Once you get all the ingredients right, it’s all about proper distribution…

LAYER IT, SON!

 

As I trust you can see above, with everything just thrown on top once you get half way in you’re stuck with fries and that sad little side of ketchup. LAYERING! It’s the key to a crucial poutine. I should not be able to see the white plate at the center of my plate. Like the title says: Fries. Curds. Gravy. Fries. Curds. Gravy. Repeat if necessary!

 

SO! Quick recap:

 

Price: At $7.25 I would have appreciated half the size for twice the quality – or even 2 thirds the quality…ANYTHING! In their defense, what it lacked in goodness it “made up” for in portion size.  

Fries: Too salty/bitter and awkward.  

Cheese: No curds.

Gravy: Thick and gelatinous…

 

That being said, I will not have the Sneaky Dee’s poutine again and subsequently the curdsade continues. I will, however, go for beers, nachos and their delicious lentil soup which is the soup du jour on Mondays.

Welcome to THE Curdsade Monday, Apr 21 2008 

If someone tells me that they don’t like a poutine, I call bullshit. Odds are it’s because they’ve never done poutine proper!  

 

So here’s the deal: I spent 20+ years living in Quebec, Canada. As much as I don’t want to fuel a stereotype, sweet sweet poutine was a quintessential part of my growing up in Quebec and a staple in my diet. I’ve been living in Toronto, Ontario for about 7 months now and it’s been one hell of time to get a good one. At the time of this post, I have yet to be wowed by poutine outside of Quebec.   

 

I’m often confronted with comments that suggest that I’m looking in the wrong province for good poutine. Are you kidding me?! I fail to see what that has to do with anything! Toronto is not in India, Mexico or Vietnam and that doesn’t stop me from getting delicious dahl, exquisite enchiladas and phenomenal pho! Bottom line is that while location plays an integral part of the conception of a culture’s dish, in this day and age it’s simple to recreate said dish just about anywhere – or so one would think. It’s apparently fucking rocket science get good fries, cheese and gravy about 700km from where poutine was (allegedly) invented but Johnny Canadian down the street can whip up a great Japanese dish like no buddies business. 

 

My mission is to go around finding a stellar poutine that blows my mind. I’ll document my curdsade as best as I can here with critiques and pictures. I will be “grading” on ingredients, esthetics, taste, portion, and price (if someone wants to charge $8+ for a poutine, the shit better make my taste buds explode) and whatever else I decide to throw in as we go along. However, I will keep this just as poutine should be kept, relatively simple yet fucking amazing.   

 

If you have any questions, comments or even if you want to suggest a spot which you think is on point and has great poutine, please do not hesitate to shoot me an email at curdsade@gmail.com.