Eating Poutine in Montreal

If you were to sit down and try to come up with the ultimate junk food that is the most unhealthy dish on the planet, you’d be hard pressed to top Poutine. This Canadian dish, originating from Quebec, consists of fries smothered in cheese curds and topped with a generous heap of gravy.

Classic poutine from La Banquise in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

It looks disgusting. In terms of its nutritional value it is beyond disgusting. However, take one bite of it and you’ll likely be hooked. We both find it irresistibly delicious.

Aside from the deep-fried Mars bar I tried in Edinburgh, Scotland, I’m not sure if I’ve ever eaten anything less redeeming than this French Canadian favorite.

Sold in greasy spoons nationwide (especially in the Province of Quebec) it is a cheap and affordable snack/meal that typically can be bought at any time of day (many poutine joints in Quebec are open 24/7). I personally dare you to try it for breakfast ;)

Special poutine with bacon and goat cheese

Several Québécois communities lay claim to the dish including Drummondville, Victoriaville and Warwick; however, I’m not so certain I’d want to be remembered for spawning ‘heart attack on a plate.’

When deciding where to get our ‘sample poutine’ we did our homework. La Banquise, open 24/7, was a restaurant that consistently was mentioned online as one of the top places to eat poutine in Montreal. With over 25 different varieties to choose from it became a bit of a daunting task to narrow it down to just two.

A close up shot of the poutine cheese curds, french fries and gravy

We decided to go with the classic ‘fries, gravy and cheese curds’ and one premium variety ‘fries, gravy, bacon and goat cheese.’

We couldn’t think of a better place to devour this sinfully delicious (yet equally regrettable) dish than a local park nearby our Montreal one week rental apartment.

A close up shot of the poutine with its bacon and goat cheese featured

When pressed to decide which one we liked better (original versus premium) we both agreed that replacing the cheese curds with goat cheese and adding bacon for the win was an enhancement over the original.

Maybe in the future if ‘grease’ is added as the 5th food category, we’ll consider eating this on more than just special occasions.

If you’re looking to replicate the ‘perfect’ poutine consider the following tips:

Fries: medium cut and doubly fried to a golden crisp on the outside
Cheese curds: smaller than bite sized portions (consider replacing with feta or goat cheese)
Gravy: chicken or turkey light and thin with a spices and pepper

This is the greasy poutine we at a a local park in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

How much does Poutine cost?  The regular sized portions we purchased (which we quite generous in size) were just under seven Canadian dollars for the classic poutine and just over nine dollars for the premium one with bacon and goat cheese.

Have you tried Poutine before? Is it something you’d consider sampling? What is the most unhealthy junk food you’ve ever eaten?

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Maxime St-jean June 11, 2014 at 2:03 am

Hey Sam, i’m from Montreal and La Banquise is a classic for me when i go out with my friends ! Next time i suggest you try the Jaco (steak, green pepper, mushrooms, onions and peppercorn sauce) or the Taquise, a fabulous guacamole poutine.

Have fun in Montreal ! Maybe we will cross our paths someday, i will start a long term backpacking trip in about 2 years from now :P

Maxime

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Samuel Jeffery June 11, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Hey Maxime!

Thank you for the recommendation! I think I’d love the Jacko :) Did you say guacamole? I’m in!

We’re going to miss Montreal a lot when we leave soon. It is our favorite city in Canada.

Best wishes with your upcoming backpacking trip!

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Carmen June 11, 2014 at 3:26 am

I love poutine! It’s so unhealthy but oh-so satisfying. Just discovered a Canadian poutine shop in Quito, Ecuador! It’s slowly getting around the world ;-)

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Samuel Jeffery June 11, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Wow! Poutine in Ecuador! The most exotic place I’ve had it was in Dhaka, Bangladesh :)

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Mark Wiens June 11, 2014 at 3:59 am

That looks awesome Sam! I have yet to ever try poutine, but I’m looking forward to my first opportunity.

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Samuel Jeffery June 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Thanks Mark! I hope you get a chance to try it soon. It’s classic Canadian junk food that requires a lot of exercise and healthy eating afterwards to compensate ;)

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Karen Warren June 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Well, I like chips, I like gravy and I love cheese. But all of them together? If I ever get to Montreal I might give it a try…

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Samuel Jeffery June 12, 2014 at 10:59 pm

It’s a pretty good combo Karen :)

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Barbara June 11, 2014 at 6:01 pm

I lived in MTL for many years… You can’t go wrong with poutine at La Banquise, but next time, try one at Patati Patata (corner of Rachel and St. Laurent). It’s unbelievable!!! Smaller portion than those at La Banquise, but extremely good (and the black olive on top adds a nice little twist to the overall taste).

Bon ap!

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Samuel Jeffery June 12, 2014 at 11:00 pm

Thanks for the suggestion Barbara! The smaller portions would be good for my waistline and I’d be game for trying it with olives :)

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Barbara Weibel June 11, 2014 at 7:11 pm

I know I’m probably in the minority here, but poutine looks and sounds disgusting.

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Samuel Jeffery June 12, 2014 at 11:03 pm

In terms of your health and digestive system not a bad idea to pass on it :)

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Alouise June 11, 2014 at 7:13 pm

I was in Montreal last year and tried the poutine at La Banquise and it was delicious. Wish I could go back there for some poutine right now, because I haven’t found a place in Edmonton that does poutine as good.

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Samuel Jeffery June 12, 2014 at 11:03 pm

That is cool Alouise! Considering I lived in Edmonton for 5 years I’d have to agree with you. I never did try poutine there that could compare with what is offered up in Montreal :)

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Sofie June 11, 2014 at 8:55 pm

I was so looking forward to trying poutine when we visited Quebec in March and then when I had it… ugh:/
I know a lot of people love it, but it was just too much for me.
Boyfriend loved it, though.

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Samuel Jeffery June 12, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Sofie, you’re definitely not the only one who doesn’t like it. It’s terribly unhealthy and if you’re used to eating junk food it is a total shock to your system.

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Angela Travels June 11, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Love Poutine! I had my first helping in Banff and try to eat it where I see it now.

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Samuel Jeffery June 12, 2014 at 11:06 pm

That’s cool! I’ve never tried it in Banff before :)

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Contented Traveller June 12, 2014 at 4:14 am

I have never tried poutine, it looks foul and would appear to be a heart attack waiting to happen, but … everyone raves about one taste and you are hooked. So, I am in and can’t wait to taste it.

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Samuel Jeffery June 12, 2014 at 11:07 pm

That is pretty much exactly what it is! Nothing redeeming about it whatsoever ;)

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Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren June 12, 2014 at 7:45 am

I’ve never tried it but definitely will when I’m in Montreal in the fall! Thanks for sharing.

Happy travels :)

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Samuel Jeffery June 12, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Thanks Lauren! That’s great you’ll get a chance to try it in Montreal this fall :)

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Stephanie - The Travel Chica June 12, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Gross :-)

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Samuel Jeffery June 12, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Hahaha…it is gross in many ways

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noel June 13, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Well that definitely looks messy and not attractive, but I’m sure quite yummy in a gross way.

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Jessica June 14, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Poutine is by far the food I crave most from Canada. It’s not like I had it regularly (since I’m pretty sure I’d be in for a heart attack before 30 if I had it more than once every month or two), but I miss having access to it. Feta or goat cheese are good substitutes, but it just isn’t quite the same without the cheese curds, which seem tough to find outside of Canada.

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Dariece @GoatsOnTheRoad June 14, 2014 at 11:37 pm

Ah, poutine…the perfect after the bar snack when in Montreal! I’ve definitely have a few in my day :)

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Globe Guide June 15, 2014 at 6:38 am

As a Canadian, I consider poutine our national dish! I bet to anyone else it sounds like such a weird combination, but it’s so delicious :-)

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Maria June 15, 2014 at 11:25 pm

When I lived in Montana I drove across the Canadian border to Lethbridge (Alberta) – a 6 hour drive – for ONE purpose… Poutine. I found the Red Dog Diner and loved it!

Spent the night and drove back the following day only to be “invited” to a 3 hour interrogation by US border patrol. Apparently it’s completely nuts to drive across the border for dinner. *grin*

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Alex-Wanderlust Marriage June 16, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Haha, love the commentary in this piece! The Quebecoise just love this. Years ago I visited Montreal and stayed with a friend I met while recently backpacking in Europe. Her and her friends said we HAD to go out for poutine. It was indeed good, interesting, and disgusting. Now that we live close by in Boston, Bell is looking forward to visiting Montreal and trying poutine for the first time…Cheers and happy travels! :)

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Samuel Jeffery June 22, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Thanks Alex! It’ll be interesting to see how Bell reacts to eating it ;)

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Zoe @ Tales from over the Horizon June 20, 2014 at 4:22 pm

I’ve heard of that before! I so want to try it. Most foods to be tasted properly need to be eaten in or near their area of origin. I’ve tried Tiramasu in Italy and France – DELICIOUS. I’ve tried it in New Zealand and Egypt. Nothing like it.

I think I’ll have to wait to get to Canada to try this. :)

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Samuel Jeffery June 22, 2014 at 1:52 pm

That is cool Zoe! Definitely try it when you come to Canada :)

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Mike June 24, 2014 at 4:56 am

Hi Samuel, I’m actually going to make a couple of my first poutine dishes at home and I can’t wait! Yet, the exciting news is that I have a buddy who wants to open Reno’s first hockey sports bar here in Reno with poutine as the main food theme! He and his wife are still in some serious planning stages. Whether that comes to fruition or not we’ll see! I love all of the variations you can make from the original :)

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Cynthia June 25, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Reading this feels like torture, yesterday we celebrated Quebec national holiday in Paris and they had the weirdest poutine I have tasted with orange cheese! I guess that poutine can only be properly enjoyed back in Quebec :)

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Samuel Jeffery June 29, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Yikes! The best is certainly in Quebec :)

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Kevin July 2, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Do I ever love poutine!

I am from a small town just outside of Montreal and am now living in Dublin. I am going through actual with drawl symptoms of not getting my weekly allotment of curds and gravy. This post as giving me the drive today to recreate the magical Montreal poutine today. I think I might be adventurous and try to recreate a smoked meat poutine!

Awesome post! Shared.

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Sarah July 6, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Wow- that looks like a heart attack in a dish and yummy! I’m off to Montreal this September- I’ll definately need to try this. Not sure whether to have the ‘regular’ or the ‘Jaco’ as Maxime suggests. Maybe I’ll need to try both for comparison sake ;-). Besides goat cheese and bacon are there other variations on this dish?

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Emi Lea July 23, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Hey Sam! If you’re in Southern Thailand any soon, you can have a spectacular Poutine in a great restaurant/sport bar called Malibu Corner in Ao Nang, Krabi province. That’s where I tried it for the first time in my life and I was lost forever. It’s so horrificly good and addictive that you just stop caring about maintaining that beach body of yours after one bite. It’s worth it! Oh, and of course as it’s Thailand it’s also cheap, only 3 USD for a big plate. Yummmm!

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Melanie July 24, 2014 at 11:39 am

I love poutine! Here in Switzerland we have a restaurant chain which has poutine on their menu. I’m sure the original one in Canada is a bit different but it’s delicious. Nevertheless, I really would like to try the original poutine. Hopefully, I’ll be able to go to Canada in the next few years.

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Jo August 3, 2014 at 8:25 am

I’m planning my first trip to Canada next year, and even though I normally hate fries with gravy (quite common in Sydney where I live) I’m definitely going to give poutine a try. Local cuisine is one of the real joys of travelling

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Jennifer August 8, 2014 at 4:58 pm

WHAT? Making changes to a poutine is so uncalled for :) LOL
Happy you liked it. Let me know next time you’re in Montreal!

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Joe A August 14, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Poutine done right is divine. And I think the goat cheese would be a good addition. Dunno about feta, though. I dont see it beating out good, regular cheese curds. Still, this was a mouthwatering post.

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John August 31, 2014 at 1:52 am

Monika & I were in Vancouver and saw a place that served up “Poutine”… I had to look twice to believe what I was looking at. Needless to say my insides are better for not going in, we settled for sushi instead.

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Samuel Jeffery September 5, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Ha! Yeah, it’s not the kind of meal you feel great about afterwards.

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Mike - Creatives in Transit September 5, 2014 at 8:32 am

Mmm poutine! As a Canadian, this makes me rather homesick for this delicious food. Good call on trying the classic, I find too often places screw up the simplicity of the poutine by adding too many toppings. Thanks for doing this amazing food justice!

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Samuel Jeffery September 5, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Thanks Mike! I agree with you about the original being hard to beat. I’ll try new ones but I find myself going back to the classic time and again.

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Diane October 16, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Since I am Canadian born but have lived in the US since childhood, I felt it my patriotic duty to poutine in Quebec. Although I rarely eat food that junky I loved it. Went with the classic, brown gravy and curds that are large enough to squeek when you bite them. My 6 year old niece called them ‘mouse cheese’.

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