I had only tried poutine once before I sat down to a bowl of it for breakfast a few weeks ago at Bantam & Biddy. That was at a McDonald’s at a service island somewhere near London, Ontario, and I had a few bites and threw the rest out. But I’m not a fool; I figured that if I were to have ordered poutine at some little place with a line out the door in Montreal, I’d have been assured a better dish. What I had here was certainly bottom-rung stuff. I don’t recall whether it was actually and honestly listed on the menu as “McPoutine,” or whether I have just decided to call it that to emphasize the awfulness of what I ate, and to pass the blame and the judgement not on the dish, but on McDonald’s, who can make anything bad.

There’s a great deal of regional pride over poutine, much in the same way that some Georgians feel quite strongly that nobody but us can or should cook proper grits or Brunswick stew. Yes, some Quebecois get awful picky about their ski resort junk food, as though fries, cheese curds and gravy are things that can only be done well up that direction. There are certainly people who would be every bit as skeptical about the idea of good poutine being available in Georgia as some of us would be to think about edible grits in Montreal.

Honestly, I think that if anybody on this part of the continent’s going to cook up a bowl of poutine that’s going to impress me, it’s going to be somebody like Shaun Doty or Lance Gummere, lately of Yeah! Burger (Shaun) and The Shed at Glenwood (Lance). They’ve teamed up for a little “fast casual” chicken place called, strangely, Bantam & Biddy in Ansley Mall. I haven’t gone by for a lunch visit or to really consider the place on its own merits, or think about what it does best yet. I’m very curious to actually try their fried chicken sandwich, and hope to at some point soon. Perhaps if I do, I’ll actually write something that’s sort of like a restaurant review. What I’m doing today is telling you about my experience with the poutine.

Turns out I don’t like wet French fries. Go figure.

I find the experience of eating poutine similar to the experience of eating Maryland-style “Boardwalk” fries, which are completely drowned in vinegar and leave a limp and soggy potato behind. The first few bites of this dish, particularly the chicken, were really good. The fries, cooked in duck fat, were tasty and flavorful, and I liked the cheese curds. The deeper I dug into it, however, the more unhappy I became. Eventually, I dug out all the chicken and the cheese, and left the wet fries behind.

I’ll go back one day for lunch. The ATL Food Snob (linked below) snapped a photo of a sandwich that I would really like to try. I think, however, that, unless the road takes me straight to the door of Montreal’s La Banquise one night down the line, I’m probably done with poutine.


Other blog posts about Bantam & Biddy:

The Food Abides (Nov. 1 2012)
Adventurous Tastes (Dec. 4 2012)
Burgers, Barbecue & Everything Else (Jan. 6 2013)
ATL Food Snob (Jan. 16 2013)

You can see all the restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s terrific for anybody planning a road trip through the southeast!

12 thoughts on “Poutine

  1. Monsieur!!!! I challenge you to a duel.
    Or something like that. As a native of Quebec and looking at the picture of Bantam & Biddy’s honest effort. They can do better than this. I could go on and on about this, but will save you from the rhetoric. I have travelled and found poutine world wide. They even have poutine in Hong Kong now. And no, it does not taste good. I think, and as you have mentioned, it is important to try authentic poutine. Though in Quebec each town has it slightly different version of this” Mess” (as it roughly translates into english).

    You are right when you say it is regional. As a child and watching hockey in small town arenas, I would cherish being warmed by a bowl of poutine, which is “Frites Sauce” that translates to “Fries with gravy” with cheese curd added. And later as a young adult after the bars had closed, we would dive into a Poutine to help take the edge off of our inebriated state. Totally high in calories, the poutine would absorb some of the alcohol in our blood by way of the high fat content of this dish.

    This dish represents our comfort food, and with a few exceptions, most Quebecois eat this dish on a rare occasion. When we do order it we relish the harmony of the carmelised sweet fries. Bathed in beef or chicken roux sauce which brings the salty and roasted notes. All the while melting the fresh large chedder cheese curd, that while adding texture to this dish. Brings the soft tanginess to round out the flavours.
    I hope you do one day try a great poutine. But as you have mentioned not everyone likes wet fries.


    1. Edgar, I could not have asked for a better testimonial of poutine! You’ve made me want to drive to Canada, or at least as far as Vermont anyway. It’s a shame that’s out of our budget for the foreseeable future. Thanks for writing.

  2. I’ve been wanting to make poutine for a while now. Does anyone know
    where I can find some cheese curds in Atlanta? As always, Marie Let’s
    Eat remains one of my favorite food blogs.

  3. I’m with you. wet fries are just *wrong* in my world. They should be hot, crispy, slightly salty and served with mayo.

  4. Perhaps you should try the Dutch oorlog sauce (it means war, in Dutch). Its ketchup, mayo and chopped onions. Probably one of the best frite sauces known to man

  5. From the picture, it looks like they fell prey to an American habit- too much topping relative to the base. When I had poutine in Quebec, it was a large serving of fries with just enough topping-not enough to make them soggy. Definitely a guilty pleasure, but yummy!

    1. The more I think about this, and the more you good people tell me about this, the more I want to drive up to Quebec and settle it. I really need Mobil or somebody to start sponsoring this blog’s expense account.

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