Swiss Chalet Friday, Feb 6 2009 

I’m not even gonna front – I have been slackin’ for a minute on the poutine blog. I have been pretty discouraged as of late and I can’t even remember the last time I had some sweet ‘tine. I have actually been put to the challenge of dishing some weight for poutine related tattoo by the dudes at Five Cents…not really an excuse. I just need to step my game up.

Luckily, I have some people who constantly remind me about how crucial this blog is and, when I fail to preform, take matters into their own hands.

The following is a review of Swiss Chalet‘ s poutine done my the fine chap over at SFSS.

This review is long over due and my procrastination is probably doing the general poutine eating public a huge disservice (because you know, I’m the authority on poutine and my opinion sways the masses like some curd dangling pied piper).  But without tooting my own horn too loud, I do have to say that I’ve probably uncovered the biggest poutine gem in the entire GTA.


Hands down it was the best poutine outside of Ottawa/Gatineau and Quebec region I’ve had.  And while that doesn’t say much, it does at the very least indicate a level of hope that there is good poutine outside said regions.

The fries were bang on (probably one of the most consistent and decent fries you can get anywhere).  The gravy was reminisce of a great gravy from the Gatineau area.  And while faced with an inherent cheese curd handicap, it measured up in spite of any regional short comings.

Simply put, it was fucking on fire.

So where is this gold mine of a poutine shop?  Where is this hidden gem that will have foodies flocking in like starving buzzards and will get any Montreal ex-pat overwrought with excitement?  Well my friends, look no further than your local Swiss Chalet.

That’s right.  I said it.

Mothetfucking Swiss Chalet.

Who knew?  I surely didn’t.

But when I saw Poutine Special on the menu I immediately had to try it.  And upon the prodding of the waitress who said it was really really good, I kinda had to see if it measured up.  If not to experience a good poutine in Toronto but to call bullshit on a waitress who obviously has a short yardstick for this type of fare.

Well fuck me up the arse with a belgian fry.  How surprised was I when the dish finally arrived at our table.

Now it wasn’t the best poutine I’ve ever had, but that’s an improbable task.  It’s like trying to find the best sushi outside of Japan, or the best gruyere outside of France.  Shit’s just not happening.  But for a chain restaurant and one that’s located in the GTA at that, It kind of reigns supreme.  It’s like the executive kitchen staff at Swiss Chalet said “fuck deese blockhead maudites.  We’re going to show dem a ting or two hahbout le poutine!”  And boy did they ever.

Seriously, fuck your Smokes Poutinery or your JKWB pulled pork poutine or Cafe Du Lac foie gras poutine.  If you want to taste the closest thing to a traditional, Quebec style poutine, you need to head to Swiss Chalet.  That’s right.  I just said it.

Hero Burger Saturday, Nov 22 2008 

A disappointing Saturday morning led my super-babe of a girlfriend and I to a really late breakfast/okay timed poutine flavoured lunch at Hero Burger. She expressed interest in being a correspondent and, well, here she is:

 

I have the pleasure of being the curdsade correspondent of the week for a trip to Hero Burger, and while I have accompanied the curdsader himself on many of the review opportunities, he seemed to think now would be an appropriate time to let me tear into one of the many abysmal attempts at poutine that Toronto has to offer.

As I mentioned, the poutine under inspection this time around was at Hero Burger. First off, the price. $4.45 is pretty reasonable for a poutine, especially considering the pout in question meets all the basic requirements (fries, CURDS, gravy), size was nothing overly impressive though, which can likely be attributed to this item being a side option on the menu. Nonetheless we ordered and waited for our poutines for what seemed like an overly long time, but hoping that would be an indication that perfection was upon us and that the anticipation would be worth it. Well. Despite the basic components being present, the poutine was certainly nothing special. The curds were nowhere near squeaky, the gravy was alright *curdsader commented on the gravy being delicious* however, I felt, while it was relatively tasty, it was something I could have whipped up at home from a package, which is not what I’m looking for when I am paying someone to make something for me. Also the fry to gravy to curd ratio was a little lacking. A little skimpy on the curds and gravy, but they did seem to layer which is crucial. 

The fries, which were fresh cut, tasted like Belgian fries and actually were my least favourite part of the poutine as a whole. It wasn’t the deep-frying method that threw me off, it was the fact that they tasted too potato-y. The fry is an element that should be subtle and light and blend with the two other delicious elements, however, these fries would most certainly have been more delicious on their own than combined with the deliciousness that is curds and gravy.

My main feeling about poutines is generally, if it is a good one, I should never be required to put ketchup and/or salt on it. I put both on this one. And lots of both. Not a good sign. It felt like it required a flavour boost for almost every bite that I took, which is kind of a bummer. And while I understand that this restaurant is not expecting to make most of it’s money on this menu item, they do make a point of putting (real cheese curds) on the menu next to poutine, which would get any poutine lover’s hear a-racin’. Alas…

All in all, I would say that if I was starving and there was absolutely nothing else that I could eat anywhere, I would probably get this poutine again, but if Hero Burger still had onion rings on their menu at that point I would actually probably get those instead. This poutine was nothing special and nothing that you could not get from a similar mall staple of New York Fries or Harvey’s or something. (And seriously, what kind of burger place does not have lettuce, like not even as an option?!)

Royal Winter Fair Monday, Nov 17 2008 

Oh the Royal Winter Fair – what a celebration of Canadian Agriculture! The missus and I have been attending the last couple of years to take in the apple dumplings, free samples and to get her as many pictures of livestock as possible for her to gush over later. Worth noting, I totally saw some jackass punch a cow in the face. I wish I was joking. Also worth noting, saw a horse with a total boner…and it looked pretty gross.

 

While there, hey, why not get a poutine?! It’s an agriculture fest – so you gotta assume awesome potatoes and the best possible cheese curds that you’ll be able to get in Toronto…right? RIGHT?

 

 

I don’t know what the name of the cart was, it was one of the random eateries that I ended up not getting the poutine, but I had some of my friend’s – who will be further referred to as Michaxl Rose. You probably can’t tell from the above photo, but these are totally cheese curds – and the only way I could tell is from tasting it. They tasted like nice, albeit squeak-less, cheese curds and there was a lot of it! However, Michaxl Rose explained to me that when the put the cheese on the fries it was basically a melted glob even before it hit the fries and before gravy was poured on it.

 

 

Speaking of the fries – what a garbage batch of fries this was. They honestly tasted like soggy Lay’s potato chips banged out into fry like shapes. Pretty embarrassing for an agriculture fair if I do say so myself!

 

I guess I should talk about the gravy, but there is honestly nothing to say about it. It tasted like nothing – like brown water that made those sad Lay’s flavored fires into the consistency of a cardboard box after being left outside during a torrential downpour.  

 

Should you go to the Royal Winter Fair next year (and I suggest you do) use the $4.50 that could be used for the poutine and put it towards either alcoholic beverages (specifically new beers and wines from around Ontario) or the majestic apple dumplings with the works – ice cream and caramel.  

 

Another friend who was with us scores from free PEI potato samples…so we had a home-made poutine party…a post will follow in another day or so…

U VEGAN? Thursday, Nov 13 2008 

If there are any vegans who happen to read this blog who get hungry for Poutine and/or Disco Fries, check out a surefire way to curb your craving:

… click on the picture, dummy.

Gilead Cafe; Excuse Me Waiter, I’d like A Little Douche On The Side… Tuesday, Oct 28 2008 

Here’s a review written by my man Chenyip – I should have one up myself in the next day or so. Enjoy!

It’s fully expected that high end establishments like Splendido, Colborne Lane, Lee’s and Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar attract a level of obnoxious clientele.  Said restaurants cater to a certain income bracket and within that small niche of fat pocketbooks, exist a heavy percentage of boorish snobs that claw with every ounce of energy to preserve whatever status quo they represent.

 

It goes without saying then, when aforementioned Jamie Kennedy decided to transform his production kitchen on 2 Gilead Place into a lunch spot aptly named Gilead Cafe, that douche’s would be in tow.  The menu reads like your standard cafe chocked with fan favorites from JKWB.  Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Smoked Salmon sandwiches, frites and even baked goods all find a home on Gilead’s menu.  But there’s one item that stands out from the rest that has fans and foodies alike scouring the chalkboard menu with darting eyes.

It’s been written about in a handful of magazines.  it’s been praised through the blog sphere as a must have.  And it’s even been touted as one of the best Toronto has to offer.  Of course, this meant I had to try it.

So what did I think?

Well lets get one thing straight.  If the standard definition of poutine is cheese curds, chicken gravy and fries (Just like a BLT is bacon, lettuce and tomato) then this dish really works outside of that paradigm.  The fries which are fresh cut, are dusted with a little parmesan cheese that ramps up not only taste, but crispiness.  Cheese curds are replaced by artisan sheep cheese and gravy is provided via drippings and renderings from the mound of braised beef layered on top.  Garnished with a little green onion and voila, the reputed JK poutine.

Shit was delicious.  Really tasty, and a very creative take on a traditional Quebec dish.  The cheese’s sharpness blended really well with the braised beef, and the crispiness of the fries were absolutely to die for.  But there was still one nagging thought:  It wasn’t poutine.

And for some time, I kept telling myself “who cares if it isn’t ‘real’ poutine?”.  By that logic, Caplanski’s smoked meat would have to be discredited because it’s not ‘real Montreal smoked meat’.  For the record, that my friends is complete horse-shit.  The formula is simple:  If the food is good, the food is good!

But still, there was something nagging me that I couldn’t get over.

Then it clicked.

I had realized that it wasn’t the quality of food which was in question.  What was so off-putting about this experience was the environment by which I was in.  I glanced around and suddenly I was consumed by my epiphany.

The Douchebags!

They were all around us.  Like black flies in the middle of Algonquin.  You were fully aware of their annoying presence and they were inescapable.  Here they were – in droves – sitting at their respective tables in their god-awful, distressed $300 jeans and pointy-toe dress shoes discussing what condo development was the best or how amazing their kids were doing in school.  It was like eating in a roomful of Penelopes.  Middle aged, upper-educated, self-entitled morons had migrated from their Forest Hill and Leslieville dwellings and flocked to this discreet watering hole.

And why shouldn’t they.   This was Jamie Kennedy’s brainchild of a lunch spot.  The place where you not only pay $24 for a soup, salad and coffee but the place where you posture like you are king shit.  I mean lets face it, the JK brand was established on posturing.  WIth his mantra about how good food should be made available to everyone and not just the rich, it exemplified the exact douchebaggery that his restaurants attract.  Good food aside Jamie, but I’m sorry, I didn’t see one motherfucker from The Esplanade eating there.  And to be honest, spending $24 on soup, salad and coffee ain’t exactly frugal spending even to me, who represents the lower-end of the yuppie/hipster sect.

But there I was, surrounded by dickheads that go to Leafs games simply because they can afford it.  And these dickheads, with their petulant buzzing, souring my poutine that I had yearned to try, turned my experience from bearable to off-putting.

I liked the food.  I really did.  But until Jamie Kennedy does something about the douchebag infestation, I’ll go eat my poutine at New York fries.

THIS JUST IN! Wednesday, Sep 3 2008 

This evening while I was on the street car on my way to the season opener of Ten Frame Fight‘s (temporary, but hopefully not that temporary, name) inaugural bowling season, I received a text message from my honorary big sister. Well, maybe I’m more accurately her honorary little brother. I’m sure that I annoy her enough to merit the sucking up for brownie points. In any event, I digress…

Her message read “Chip truck on campus uses fresh cut fries and curds but beef gravy. Still pretty good”

I responded excitedly that I will try to hit it up tomorrow as I’m supposed to be in the area. Then I received the response “Small is decent sized for $3.75”.

OH SNAP! Things are getting a little interesting…as I am typing the message saying that if she were to have taken a picture I could have put up a post from her as a correspondent I get a notification that I have another message waiting for me….what is it?

BAM!

So apparently the “Truck is called ‘Ideal Catering’ in front of Sidney Smith Hall” – expect a full out review from either big sister or lil brother in the damn near future, kids!! Also, just in case you don’t know, Sidney Smith Hall is one of the main buildings on the University of Toronto campus. SAY WORD.