Elgin Street Diner Friday, Sep 12 2008 

Two weeks ago I went down to Ottawa over the long weekend to get sweet with friends. No trip to Ottawa is complete without a disappointing trip to the famous (I guess?) Elgin Street Diner (aka ESD) for, as per their menu, “Ottawa’s Best Poutine”. Located at 324 Elgin Street in Ottawa, this 24hour diner is a hot-spot is favorite for late night eats in a desperate attempt to either a) sober up, b) avoid a hangover the next day or c) both.

 

 

Whoa. That just reminded me. While we did go to ESD two weeks ago, we went for brunch…which means these pictures are from my previous trip to Ottawa where I was more than likely wasted after hitting up The Dirty Oak in an attempt to either a) sober up, b) avoid a hangover the next day or c) both. For the record, I didn’t sober up and was still hung-over the next day. How do I remember? Because every Sunday that I am in Ottawa is the day after I go to The Dirty Oak for Dre’s Metal Nite where a drunken gong show inevitably ensues as my Ottawa friends come out and see their Torontonian brother. Especially two weeks ago…but that’s a story for another day.

 

 

This “review” will be really short. The only reason why I have decided to “review” ESD is because I feel that the poutine is arguably the most overrated poutine in the National Capital Region – but, without fail, I get it just about every time at ESD and am disappointed not only in the poutine itself but because I always think that eating one will help me either a) sober up, b) avoid a hangover the next day or c) both.

 

I’m not a fan of the fries at all – never was and presumably never will be. They are just so stringy and seem like they have been deep fried a myriad of times before being served. The gravy is super salty and way thick. My man Loziloz would say that there is no such thing as too thick, especially with the ladies, but he’s higher than an eagle’s ass half the time and can’t be taken seriously.

 

On a positive note, the cheese curds are always awesome and the gravy is vegan friendly – so you can’t be mad at that! The portion as well, even for $6.50 is pretty filling and a pretty ok deal.

 

I guess my main issue, other than the lack of fulfilling my need to either a) sober up, b) avoid a hangover the next day or c) both at 3am, is that every time I eat one I either a) get a tummy ache, b) feel like I’m going to shit my pants or c) both.

 

 

All in all, the ESD poutine is relatively good for what you’re getting, I guess – but I still find it mad overrated. I do recommend, however, if you’re feeling adventurous, to take a look at their menu and see their poutine twists; the four cheese poutine, the onion ring poutine, the smoked meat poutine, etc. But not because they are particularly good – just because.

 

Bottom line, I will keep calling it overrated but guaranteed I will ear it again. It’s still way better than some of the ones I have eaten in the past few months whilst on this mission. Believe that.

Stampede Bison Grill Thursday, Aug 28 2008 

This week my parents were in Toronto to catch a flight to B.C. to visit my sister. I feel bad for my sister – the poutine is apparently terrible out there and she is almost as much of a poutine lover as I am. I say almost because she isn’t writing a blog about it now is she! Wait – is she? I should ask. Regardless, my parents are wicked enough to be bringing 2 kilos of cheese curds from Quebec to her to make her own poutines. Yes I said 2 kilos – No it’s not a typo. Yes I’m positive. For those who don’t know, a kilo is a thousand grams. It’s easy to remember. All around the world today, the kilo is a measure.

 

 Anyways, even though they were in Toronto they had to bail on our dinner date because of my dad’s work commitments.  Being not stoked, I decided that I was gonna make a run to the LCBO for a couple beers and I stopped into this new joint in Parkdale called Stampede Bison Grill for their poutine as suggested to me by Nick

 

Stampede is at 5 Brock Avenue and has taken over the once popular fried chicken joint “Rosie’s”. I never had the chance to eat at Rosie’s because when I moved to Toronto just over a year ago I was still vegetarian – by the time I loosened up my dietary restrictions, it had closed down. In any event, this was the second time I stepped into this place, but the first time I ordered something and both times I was really stoked to have this spot in the neighborhood – it’s clean, interesting and great vibes in my opinion. There’s a better review of the spot by Taste T.O. here – bottom line, I hope it sticks around.

 

 

 

At first glance you see this take-out menu and it’s rad – fresh cut fries, cheese curds and made-from-scratch vegetarian friendly gravy for $3.50. It’s a no brainer at this point order that shit and the package – and I don’t mean the kind of package they run in The Wire or in R. Kelly’s Trapped in The Closet! I’m talking about this package:

 

 

Then you open that shit and it’s like Christmas!! Delicious, delicious Christmas!

 

 

The first issue I have is the size. The poutine is really small. I mean for $3.95 (I know that the above menu says $3.50 but in-shop it’s $3.95) I guess I can’t really complain. It was really gone before I knew it.

 

The fries are pretty rad – a little thin, but with the small container there sadly is not really any other option. However, at least the are fresh cut and made to order! Can’t be mad at that!

 

Of course – it’s topped with beautiful Quebecois cheese curds. Bonus points for the proper cheese, but I have to take away some points for not being a whole lot of cheese curds. This was one of 2 things that I was vocal about while eating my poutine and sippin’ on my St. Peter’s Organic.

 

The second thing was the gravy. Before I go on, I must admit that this is the second time that I tasted Stampede’s poutine. A few weeks ago my girlfriend had one and I stole a bite. With that bite I was ale to concur that it was tasty enough for me to say that I would come back and try my own for the blog– no frontin’! This time the homemade gravy seemed very rough in texture, almost sandy, and had a weird East Indian curry type flavor – like they decided to make it with cumin. Kind of rubbed me the wrong way, but it the portion was small enough for me to inhale it and stop complaining…for the most part.

 

While not some sort of stellar award winning poutine, but it’s basically as close a taste of Quebec that I have found I would eat the poutine again – I mean it’s not only on the way to/from The Beer Store and the LCBO but I might also contemplate hitting it up on the walk home from playing basketball weekly just a little north of Stampede. I have had better and I have had way worse, but this aint bad.