Some people think of poutine and they're disgusted...fries, gravy AND cheese curds? Some people think of poutine and probably picture a bowlful of fat or the culinary representation of a heart attack. Not me! I love poutine. It is probably one of the most comforting and satisfying foods for me. Now, if I could eat really good poutine everyday without any consequences, I would! Of course, it's really hard to find a good poutine place, especially in Vancouver.
So, a few hours after Harambe, we weren't exactly hungry, but I wanted to try Belgian Fries, since were were on the Drive, and Belgian Fries is believed by a lot of people to have the best poutine in the city. We had been before, when they just were in a little hole in the wall on the same street. They have really expanded, now occupying a really large space with lots of seating and a flat screen TV showing the Food Network. The new digs are impressive, and the goldenrod walls give the interior a sunshine-y feeling. The place was really busy, as was expected.
We shared a classic large poutine ($6.99) and Shane had a beer. Now, they have many variations on the poutine on their menu (like Monteal Smoked Beef Poutine, and Chicken Steak Poutine), but I really prefer the classic. It arrived in a large bowl, the fries, gravy and curds piled up like a mountain. Steam was rising from it. It looked spectacular.
Of course there are the three components one must evaluate: fries, curds and gravy. The fries here at Belgian fries are quite good, though not the best I've had. However, they were golden, and crunchy--more than adequate.
The curds were really good. They were melty, but still had that necessary 'squeak' when you bit into them. It's also crucial that the curds were interspersed throughout the fries, and not just put on top. They did this right, because you didn't have the problem of getting to the bottom of the bowl and just finding fries and gravy. This way, you have each of the three component in every bite, and there was a range of melted-ness to the curds, which gave the textural variety. These were probably the best curds I've had in Vancouver.
However, where the poutine fails is the mushroom gravy (which makes this dish vegetarian). It had a really nice colour and consistency, but it was bland, and tasted artificial. This was not good, as gravy is really crucial. But this gravy definitely let the dish down. This was what I remembered too, from the last time we were there.
The poutine at Belgian Fries is not bad, but it's not the greatest either. It was a satisfying meal, and very affordable. But it could have been really, really good. Nevertheless, this place has its fans, and that's great. But me, I'm still looking for a really, really great poutine....