POUTINI’S HOUSE OF POUTINE (1112 Queen West, at Beaconsfield) Complete meals for $10, including all taxes, tip and a bottled water. Average main $6. Open Tuesday and Wednesday noon to 9 pm, Thursday to Saturday noon to 3:30 am. Closed Sunday, Monday, holidays. No reservations. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: one step at door, no washrooms. Rating: NNNN
Though we've got a House of Chan, a House of Prayer and even a House of Upholstery, until three weeks ago Toronto had never been home to a House of Poutine.
Poutini's House of Poutine, to be specific, a stylish storefront conversion within a stone's throw of some of downtown's most popular watering holes.
As the name says, Poutini's all about poutine, the high-fat/high-carb artery-clogging collision of french fries, gravy and cheese curds that only makes culinary sense late at night on an empty stomach after the ninth beer (or first thing the morning after).
The west-side take-away's functional decor is as streamlined as its menu. Smoke's (218 Adelaide West, at Simcoe, 416-599-2873, NNN) may pile on the toppings like a drunken frat boy with the munchies (Wieners? We think not), and Caplansky's (12 Clinton, at Henderson, 416-500-3852, NNN) might go a bit overboard with the addition of smoked meat, but Poutini's pride 'n' joy keeps it as simple as possible. There are exactly two choices: about a pound of hand-cut russet potatoes twice-fried in trans-fat-free vegetable oil get generously layered with cheese curds and either house-made beef or veggie gravy (three if you switch a baked potato for the fries, all $6.19).
Sean Farrell (left), Erik Jorgensen and Lara Goldsmith say yes to Poutini's.
But its not the spuds and non-traditional gravy that put Poutini's product head and shoulders above the rest - and that includes your stellar takes, Jamie Kennedy and David Chrystian. It's the curds. Sourced from Tweed's Maple Dale Farm, they're the cheese curds of a poutine junkie's dreams, their bite buttery, their snap elastic. And, yes, they squeak!
The poutine police are already pooh-poohing Poutini's gravies, claiming that salty chicken "sauce" full of chemicals and goodness-knows-what straight out of the can is somehow more authentic than Poutini's genuinely flavoured one made with slow-roasted beef bones, onions and leeks. Everyone else says Poutini's is about to hit big.
"We've already got the food idea for our next restaurant," says Poutini's Katie "Squeaky" Laliberté, who came up with the current concept with hubbie Fred and brother-in-law Nick. "No one's ever done it before, but I can't tell you what it is."
My guess? House of Fudge.