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I Tried Poutine In Toronto & It Tasted Like Inadequacy

Sorry not sorry, Toronto…

Assistant Editor, MTL Blog
Smoke's poutinerie traditional poutine in Toronto, Ontario.

Smoke's poutinerie traditional poutine in Toronto, Ontario.

When you're craving a classic poutine you think of Montreal restaurants like La Banquise, Ma Poule Mouillée, Chez Ma Tante and, heck, even La Belle Province if we're being totally honest. So, during my most recent trip to Toronto, I wanted to get a taste of what the 6ix considers to be the best of the best when it comes to its poutine scene.

I consulted a number of Toronto best-of lists, and one place was consistently near the top — Smoke's Poutinerie. The Toronto chain offers over 25 poutine styles, including butter chicken, chicken bacon ranch, pulled pork, pierogi style or à la bacon cheeseburger, to name a few.

I figured I'd keep things simple and grab a traditional poutine – 'cause you can never go wrong with fries, cheese curds and gravy, right?

The traditional poutine at Smoke's cost $13.99, which wasn't too bad for the portion you get. Oh, and the weight of the bag also felt right (if you get it, you get it), so things were off to a promising start.

Now, for the reveal. I opened up that bad boy and looked strangely familiar. No, not because it looked exactly how a poutine should look, but because it was giving major Harvey's poutine vibes. And that's because it's literally a Harvey's poutine — down to the potato skin on some fries.

While Harvey's poutines are a great post-night-out bite, it's by no means the spot you'd go to in Montreal when you want a real good poutine.

And let me set the record straight, Smoke's poutine wasn't at all bad, but it wasn't poutine...

To start, the French fries weren't the right cut. Nothing beats perfectly sliced russet potatoes that are deep-fried to a dark brown, slightly crispy with a soft and steamy inside.

Fast-food fries from places like Harvey's, Wendy's or even McDonald's don't compare to the home-style fries you'd get in a signature Montreal poutine.

The cheese also didn't deliver the squeakiness you'd want — better yet, the squeakiness you deserve. When you bite into a cheese curd, the whistle tones of Mariah Carey are meant to envelop your mouth. When that doesn't happen, you know it's just not hitting the way it's supposed to.

As for the gravy? Pretty top-notch, not gonna lie. It's hard to mess up a good gravy, and while Smoke's sauce didn't surpass the beefy goodness of some of my personal favourites, it still gave what it was supposed to give.

The overall verdict? It's safe to say that I am glad that I live in Montreal — where poutine from the best spots hits every. single. time. Whereas the best in Toronto is comparable to Harvey's over here.

No shade, Toronto, but… step it up.

    Mike Chaar
    Assistant Editor, MTL Blog
    Mike Chaar is an Assistant Editor for MTL Blog focused on recalls in Canada and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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