The great Toronto poutine challenge: low brow poutine
Today I walked into Dangerous Dan's and against my better judgement - I was really hungry - I ordered a large poutine. Up until now I've been bracing myself a little; looking at the long road ahead has been enough to keep me ordering small portions when possible. Despite my stature - 200+ lbs - I have a relatively small appetite, but in the name of being a good sport, today I just went for it.
But it might not have been the best day to "just go for it." For those unfamiliar, Dangerous Dan's is the kind of place where you can get a 24oz burger topped with a quarter pound of cheese, a quarter pound of bacon and two fried eggs - it comes with a poutine and a large shake. Dangerous Dan likes things big and messy. This is not the place for detecting subtle flavours or noticing the richness that the addition of organ meat might have added to the stock. They don't import artisanal cheese curds from monasteries in Northern Quebec and their potatoes are not organic.
What Dangerous Dan's is, is a place to mash food into your gullet after a case of Molson Ex, and in that capacity they are #1. Let's see how the poutine stacks up:
I'm just going to come out and say it - these are frozen. They look like those McCain "Steak Cut" fries that are miniature 2x4s. It's a big turn off to me to get frozen fries in a restaurant, there's really no excuse. Potatoes are about the cheapest thing you can buy in a grocery store and the difference it makes is pretty substantial. So for me, the frozenness is kind of a deal breaker; it makes me feel like I've been cheated. 1/5
Again, this stuff isn't made in house. It's light brown, totally opaque, almost certainly came from a packet and there's way too much of it. That last part is a common error in poutine construction though; one of the greatest challenges in creating a perfect poutine is knowing when to hold back. The fries need to get coated, but you don't want to be eating a pile of soggy mush by the end, especially when it's of the sodium enriched OXO variety. 1/5
These are curds in name only, even by the time the plate landed on my table they had already been reduced to a stringy, goo. They're almost certainly made from processed cheese, they're quite salty and again, there's far too many of them. Not that melted cheese is a bad thing, but good cheese curds should hold up to the heat. 2/5
Like the rest of the menu at Dangerous Dan's, this poutine is big. Again there are two sizes, but there is never any need to order the large - ever, trust me. 4/5
What can I say; the double "D" does it big if he's going to do it at all. I must admit though, despite my best efforts I only managed to shovel through about two thirds of this thing - if that. The fries worked like sponges and by the time I quit they were soaked through with brown sauce. It's the kind of poutine you could really just make at home. There's no need for a deep fryer when you're buying from McCain and brown sauce can be assembled in minutes.
However, since this is an entirely unscientific excursion and I can basically rate things how I please, I am giving Dangerous Dan's three bonus points. Why? Because I respect the gusto of a 24oz burger, that's why - and the guys that work there scare me a little bit.
Adjusted total: 11/20