Poutine at Paul Patates
Even though this isn't a food blog, we knew discovering new foods was going to be a big part of our lives in Montreal. Quebec has its own cuisine independent of the other provinces, and the undisputed king of that cuisine is poutine.
Poutine, for the uninformed, is a simple dish. Here's the concept: take french fries and cover them with brown gravy and cheese. Not just any cheese - traditionally, it's cheese curds, which almost look like ultra-large cottage cheese chunks. The good ones "squeak" when you bite them, and due to their density, they don't melt quickly.
Apparently there is quite a bit of debate in Montreal over who makes the best poutine. There are a million variations on it, and in addition to the traditional version I described above, I've also seen "italienne" (topped with marinara/cheese), General Tso's (I secretly want to try this one), and for the fancy types, topped with foie gras.
I'd read previously about an old-school diner called Paul Patates that apparently serves some of the best poutine and hot dogs in town. Since the weather was decent (re: not raining), I ventured down to the Pointe St. Charles neighborhood to check it out. After a short walk from the Metro stop, I saw the sign. Definitely a neighborhood joint, and I somehow knew it would be good.
How good? Well, I haven't eaten a ton of poutine since arriving, but this one was really tasty. I went with the small poutine/hot dog combo, and the hot dog ("steamie," in Montreal) came "all dressed." No, they don't do chili here, but they strangely offered an option called the "Michigan," which is topped with spaghetti sauce. I don't know either.
Back to the poutine. The curds had the "squeak" I was looking for, and the fries/gravy were delicious as well. One thing about poutine to remember: even a small eats like a large. It's not light eating, and it's best shared. However, since I was living my best life today, I finished it by myself.
Oh, and the hot dog? It was simple, but great. The toppings were mustard, relish, and slaw, and like the name, the dog itself was steamed. They also offer a grilled dog option, so maybe I'll try that next time. I'm still looking for a hot dog that can compete with the one served at the Dairy Queen in Bluefield, WV (ask me about it sometime), but as far as traditional hot dogs go, this one was solid.
One last thing. Paul Patates also makes their own spruce beer. I'd never heard of it, but since it came with my combo, I was trying it no matter what. I'm usually not a fan of sweet soft drinks, but this was good. Think ginger beer, but a bit less sweet, and with a subtle flavor of Christmas tree. It somehow worked well with the food, and they even gave me a chilled glass to drink it out of.
I'll definitely return to Paul Patates. They also had burgers, and I must try them.