The great Toronto poutine challenge: the bacon poutine
Today was the first day I didn't actually feel like a poutine. I wasn't opposed, of course -- but something like a salad would have hit the spot a little more given the 40 degree temperature outside with the humidity. Since I was going to need to be won over a little bit on this one I decided to go for the sure thing - Poutini's House of Poutine.
They keep it pretty simple at Poutini's with the only variances on the traditional model being a vegan option and the opportunity to add bacon. There is a version called "the works" as well (with sour cream and chives), but since salad was my first choice, I didn't want to bugger myself up even more by throwing sour cream into the mix. So bacon it is, a simple addition, but always a good one. Let's see how things went down:
Poutini's knows how to fry a potato. Their twice-fried process is the tried and true method for French fry perfection. They're on the thicker side - approximately six centimeters in diameter - which gives them just enough heft to soak up all that gravy. The danger with a thicker french fry is always that the inside won't be adequately cooked, leaving it dense and unappealing. Poutinis balances right on the edge of that high wire; the inside could perhaps be slightly lighter, but that's just because I'm being nitpicky. 3.5/5
To be honest I was slightly disappointed with the gravy. It wasn't bad, but in my opinion a solid gravy - even more than the fries themselves - is the backbone of a great poutine. I just wasn't blown away. I wanted something rich, savory and complex, and what I really got was just gravy. It's nice and thick though, so when you're down to the bottom you can use those last few french-fries to scoop up every last drop. 3.5/5
When I say the gravy is the key to a great dish, Poutini's gives that recognition to their curds - and they make a good case for it. These are the kind of squeaky chewy cheese curds that you want just sit down and eat bags of. With a sweet, subtle, mild flavour, you could put these in a bowl alone and they might win top marks for best poutine all on their lonesome. 4.5/5
Poutini's offers two sizes: the Regular, and the Teeny Weeny Tiny poutine. Don't be fooled by their clever naming practices, there's nothing miniature about the Teeny Weeny. 4/5
Final Score: 15/20
When all is said and done, this is a great poutine. The addition of bacon to the poutine was neutral as far as score goes -- bacon is delicious, but it also added a pretty intense saltiness that really stood out. Perhaps if the gravy were a little under seasoned the bacon would balance it out perfectly, but then everyone else suffers. Who cares, bacon is bacon and bacon is good.