Poutine—a greasy bechamel of fries slathered in gravy and cheese curds—is about as easy for an American to dismiss as curling or ice hockey. It’s just the type of handiwork we’d expect of the country that took our ham and called it their bacon.
Except that they were right: Canadian bacon does sound way cooler than ham; hockey is like a bloodier, faster soccer; and poutine? Well, it sort of tastes like Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July decided to throw a joint party in your mouth. Which is convenient, because poutine goes really well with beer.
Turns out there are a smattering of places in and around New York that offer this unofficial national dish of our neighbor to the north. Here’s a list of four delicious Canadian spots to whet your poutine appetite.
Mile End | 97 Hoyt St. | Brooklyn | 718.852.7510 | mileendbrooklyn.com
The Boerum Hill space is tiny (435 square feet, including the bathroom) and there’s an emphasis on fresh ingredients. Native Montrealers Noah and Rae import bagels from Québec and serve poutine ($8) topped with hand-cured smoked meats ($11) like it’s done back home. The dry-rubbed brisket spends 10 days in Noah’s fridge before it’s smoked for 10 hours over oak wood, and steamed to swollen perfection. It’s served on a bed of frites along with cheddar curds brought in from Maine-based Silvery Moon Creamery. The curds have the same subtle and salty flavor as Indian paneer, add a texture that is lighter and chewier than melted cheese, and are the key ingredients that separate this dish from American disco fries or cheese fries.
Combined with a hearty mushroom gravy, the elements of this “maudite” mixture complement each other surprisingly well. Rather than the soggy mush one might expect, the crunch of the fries, the delicate mouth-feel of the curds, and the marbled juiciness of the meat all pulled together for a dish with variety in every bite. The ones sprinkled with a few fallen peppercorns from the brisket add whole new pockets of flavor.
The deli also carries several other signature Canadian-Jewish dishes, including a chive-and-potato pancake topped with lox, a “mish-mash” of salami and greens, and a smoked meat sandwich on Orwasher’s rye. Their version of the meal that made Katz’s Deli famous is more reasonable in size and price ($8), and features a fresher, more peppery meat than its LES counterpart. In comparison, the deli is just plain better. There. It’s been said. ‘Tis the season for a friendly rivalry, eh?
Subways: A,C,G and 2,3 to Hoyt St.
Sheep Station | 149 4th Ave. | Brooklyn | 718.857.4337 | sheepstation.net
They’ve got lots of beer and serious Australian pride. Need we say more?
Subways: M,R to Union St.
While not off Manhattan, this one is a worthy poutine contender:
Hotel Griffou | 21 West 9th St | New York, NY | nymag.com
Admittedly not off Manhattan, but with Duck Confit Poutine, no list would be complete without them.
Subways: R,W to 8th St.; A,B,C,D,E,F,V to W 4th St.