The great Toronto poutine challenge: the beef poutine
At first glance it's kind of difficult to figure out what W Burger Bar is trying to be. It has this kind of Restaurant Makeover style sleek modern design. But at the same time, they serve $9.00 pitchers (take note). It's kind of an upscale, casual burger joint I suppose. Judging by the business it seems to be doing, it has been a welcome addition to Yonge and College.
You could say it was bustling during my recent visit. Even at 10:00pm on a weeknight the place was quite full as pieces of people's conversations floated through the bar. There are three options for poutine here: the Poutine Quebecois, the Beef Poutine and the Pulled Pork. While I know I should have gone traditional here, my $2.00 12oz PBR (take note) made a very convincing argument towards the beef, and I'm not arguing with a glass of beer in a crowded restaurant, I'd almost certainly be asked to leave. So beef it is.
What's a beef poutine? Well, at W Burger Bar beef is king. They serve hormone free, organic, locally sourced beef for their hamburgers, and they sprinkle the same beef atop their poutine. Let's see how the rest of it panned out:
These are a slightly thinner version of what you'll commonly see served in poutine - think McDonalds in size and colour, maybe a hairline thicker. Do not however, think McDonalds in terms of taste, texture and overall quality. These straw-coloured shoestrings have much more to offer than their franchise produced brethren. W's fries make an ideal vessel for poutine transmission, delicately crisp strands of deep fried excellence. The only drawback here is that because of their thinness, they're milder in flavour than many of the other poutines on the circuit - less potato flavour, more deep fried flavour, which depending on your point of view, may not be a drawback at all. 4/5
This is a medium bodied beef gravy with lots of flavour and which is seasoned perfectly. The delicate sauce is thin enough to work its way through each nook and cranny this nest of frites has created until everything is coated. They haven't gone overboard here and it's much appreciated. The balance of flavours is remarkable. It's rich and meaty without being intrusive, and the ground beef on top acts almost as a sponge to hold any excess drippings keeping the French fries from getting overly saturated. 5/5
Mild and buttery, stringy and chewy, complete with a slight squeak. The addition of beef to the dish pushed the curds out of the spotlight a little, but only because the beef was so good. The cheese just couldn't compete. 3/5
Just right. Granted, W Burger Bar's is a little pricey. This isn't a place where you'll get piled high fries, but as such, this also isn't a place where they'll ever be frozen. Care is taken in the poutine's preparation and while it might cost a couple of bucks more, it's well worth it. This is single person size, but if you're there with a partner that just means you can try the pulled pork as well. 5/5
Total Score: 17/20
What more can I say? The beef works. It makes sense; it adds more flavour to the gravy while giving an additional vessel for that gravy to combine with. I'm a total convert. I don't know how to solve the curd issue. You could add more I suppose, but to be honest I'm not even convinced it's an issue that really needs resolving.
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