It was during a visit to Montreal some eight years ago that I first discovered the glory that is poutine. This French-Canadian specialty is a heart-stopping, gut-busting treat that somehow manages to out-America American food, topping crispy French fries with mounds of fresh cheese curds and thick brown gravy. Delicious. Frightening. Genius.
The dish is so popular up north that in Montreal it’s even served at McDonald’s. Now it’s quickly proliferating in New York City restaurant on menus and appears set to become the next bahn mi or fried chicken, food-seeker's obsessive over-the-top comfort food trend. So I set out to explore every New York restaurant currently serving poutine. With a little (OK, a lot) of help from some friends, I’m delighted to share this exhaustive report from Endless Simmer, along with the news that my internal organs appear to still be intact… for now.
Everything Poutine: Corner Burger
After returning from an eye-opening holiday trip to Montreal, the owners of this Park Slope burger and sandwich shop have updated their menu with an astounding 13 varieties of poutine. The Americanized takes — pepperoni, mozzarella and marinara make up the “pizza poutine” — are in our opinion unnecessary, but Corner Burger hits a home run with the hearty classic versions, such as “poutine galvaude,” a popular Quebecois take that adds shredded chicken and peas to the standard dish, which features a delicious housemade chicken gravy. 381 5th Avenue, Brooklyn. $6 – $7.50.
Extra Cheese Poutine: Dive Bar
This long-standing Upper West Side establishment has been serving poutine for years, and there’s nothing fancy or inventive about their take on it. (The bartender found it hilarious/adorable that I wanted to take a photo.) The gravy (possibly canned) is mediocre, but as you can see that’s not really the emphasis. Dive Bar wins the most-cheese-curds-for-your-dollar award by a long shot, and gets extra props for the fact that the extra-crispy fries hold up well under all that weight. 732 Amsterdam Avenue, $8. (Keep reading… it only gets crazier.)
The Last Supper Poutine: Shopsin’s
This quirky lunch counter inside the Essex Street Market serves up the poutine to end all poutines — a giant bowl of super crisp French fries completely doused in the requisite dark gravy and cheese curds and then topped with not one, not two, but three runny poached eggs. The seemingly bottomless bowl is an amazing feast, but do exercise caution. Because Shopsin’s is only open ’til 3 p.m., when most of my “real-job” friends are unavailable, I had to approach this monstrous meal on my own, and while I didn’t come anywhere close to finishing, suffice it to say my stomach was not on speaking terms — or more accurately, was on speaking terms — with me for the rest of the day. 120 Essex Street, $13.