Monday, November 30, 2009

The day the poutine came to me.

I started this blog to help rationalize my poutine addiction. And with the faintest hope that I might be able to leverage it to get a free meal or two. Recently, I managed one better – I was lucky enough to convince the boys from Smoke’s Poutinerie to bring their new poutine truck down to my office at lunch. “Official blog business”, you know.

Since I’ve started writing this blog, I’ve been inundated by commentary about Smoke’s. And I think it’s probably true that I can’t really claim to be any sort of authority on the subject without a review of Toronto’s official poutine emporium.

Let me say first: I’m biased. I love Smoke’s creator and owner Ryan Smoklin (how can you not love a man with a vision to bring great poutine to the huddled masses of Toronto?). I love the simplicity of the idea – nothing but poutine and pop. And I love that Smoklin is building not just a restaurant, but a brand (I seriously considered a franchise. I’m not kidding).

But the real question is: do I love the poutine? The answer really depends on the gravy.

The Smoke’s truck came equipped with two kinds of gravy: the traditional, and the veggie option. In the spirit of authentic journalism, I threw my waistline to the wind and sampled both.

As a Quebecer, I’m a stickler for the right kind of gravy – and the traditional doesn’t quite meet my expectations. It’s a poultry-based offering with a strong sage flavour that belongs more on Thanksgiving turkey than on poutine. In fact – it did top a recently offered Thanksgiving poutine that Smoklin claims was a best-seller.

The veggie gravy, on the other hand, was much closer to the traditional “brown sauce” you find at chip trucks across La Belle Province. Rich in flavour, and beautiful to behold, it provided just the right compliment to the fries and cheese. Although the pieces of mushroom were a tad offensive to a poutine purist like myself.

A later visit to the Smoke’s location on Adelaide presented an even more intriguing offering: a peppercorn gravy that gave the meal a delicious kick. While not standard poutine offering, I’m willing to make an exception here and give it two thumbs up for tastiness.

There are a whole lot of things you can put on your poutine at Smoke’s beyond gravy. Enough permutations and combinations of flavours to warrant their own blog. So more posts to come on some of their selections. For now, my rating on the traditional offering:

Fries (daily hand-cut Yukon Gold): 4/5

Cheese (produced by dairy farmers from the Eastern Townships of Quebec): 5/5

Traditional gravy: 3/5

Vegetarian gravy: 4/5

Peppercorn gravy: 4/5

And a bonus point for style – for a grand total of 13 or 14 / 15 (gravy dependent).

(Oh. And the boxes are adorable, but messy. Be prepared.)


  1. Not sure how I feel about it yet, but just found out tonight that Poutini's has started doing delivery to my area via

    Now there's even more choices for poutine that can come to me!

  2. Poutini's delivery! I hadn't heard! Get an order and give me your review...I'll post it to the site.

  3. Hey love your site! We'll have to get together one day when I'm next in the Big Smoke and share a poutine together, eh?

  4. Gross gravy, inferior ingredients, high prices, and small servings.

    All given to you by staff that doesn't care.

    Anyone that's been to Quebec or even Ottawa would give this place 2 thumbs down.

    Smokes is horrible.

  5. Yeah! Being from Hawkesbury Ontraio now living in Toronto, the search for a REAL poutine has been really disappointing.

    I thought that my search had finally ended when I found Smoke's! Unfortunately, the sauce wasn't up to par and satisfactory to the ones in Eastern Ontario/Western Quebec.

    The search for a taste of back home is on going.

  6. I love poutine and have been reading your blog recently but now I don't know what to believe. Smoke's is disgusting, no one I know likes it. The gravy is horrible and the fries are barely ever cooked all the way through. I'm hoping you just gave them a high grade because your friend's with the guy...