Monday, August 31, 2015

Quebec City Poutine (Casse-croute Pierrot, Pub du Parvis, Pizzeria Stratos, and Chez AshTon)

I spent a week in Quebec City. Since this was Canada, I had to indulge in one of the foods that Canada is known for that rivals maple syrup and Kraft macaroni. I sampled far too much poutine during my week in Quebec. I was apprehensive at first. The combination of French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds didn't exactly sound super appetizing. Once I started tasting the various poutines around the city, I suddenly saw while almost all but one restaurant I visited didn't have poutine on the menu. It's because the dish is delicious!

Casse-croute Pierrot (Limoilou)

My first poutine tasting happened at a 24 hour restaurant in Quebec City's Limoilou neighborhood. They were called Casse-Croute Pierrot and specialized in poutine, pizza, sandwiches, and other foods. It was basically a 24 hour diner, but I kept on hearing it referred to as "The Poutine Place" during the duration of the nearby event that I was in the city for. I decided to try the Poutine Special Pierrot. It was topped with pepperoni, mushrooms, green bell peppers, and onions in addition to the mandatory gravy and cheese curds. I had ordered the smaller 7" plate of poutine, and it ended up being a humongous mound of deliciousness. I couldn't see a single person eating a 9" plate from this restaurant. The pepperoni on here was interesting. I'm wondering if pepperoni in French actually translates to another type of sausage. This pepperoni was less spicy, was more pick than red, and seemed to resemble a type of salami as opposed to the typical pepperoni that Americans are used to. If I knew that champignons translated to mushrooms, I might have requested that they hold them, but my lack of French made me eat foods hat were slightly out of my comfort zone and it was delicious!

Pub du Parvis (Downtown)
Another poutine experience happened at Pub du Parvis in Downtown Quebec. I tried their Octoberfest Poutine. Not being able to fully translate the menu, I was able to figure out this poutine's toppings included caramelized onions, beer somewhere in the dish (gravy maybe?), and the meat of the day. Our waitress didn't know the English word for the meat and the French word meant nothing to me. Regardless, I ordered this anyway wondering what the mystery meat might be. It turned out to be some sort of blood sausage and was delicious. I was told by someone visiting from Wisconsin that you can tell a good quality cheese curd based on whether or not it squeaks when you bite into it. The curds on this poutine did indeed squeak (Casse-Croute Pierrot's did not). I'd vote the poutine from Pub du Parvis my favorite poutine that I tried in the city.

Now this isn't poutine, but I did end up at Pub du Parvis a second time during my stay (was a block away from my hotel) and tried one of their pizzas. Since where on the subject of Pub du Parvis, I'm going to sneak their Greckoroman Pizza into this post about poutine. The pizza had a really thin, almost cracker-like crust. The only problem with this crust was that the pizza was a little hard to cut up (didn't come sliced). It was topped with feta, onions, kalamata olives, tomato, arugula, and yogurt. I've never seen yogurt on a pizza before, but it combined nicely with the feta. I preferred the poutine to the pizza, but Pub du Parvis still served a perfectly respectable pizza.
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Pizzeria Stratos (Limoilou)

I was attending an event in Quebec City and they bought everyone poutine from Pizzeria Stratos one afternoon. Pizzeria Stratos claims to be Le Roi de la Poutine, or the King of Poutine. Turned out that the Le Roi was my least favorite poutine from my trip. This poutine was essentially cheese fries with gravy. That said, the gravy was really tasty. It had a very nice peppery flavor, but everything else would have not made me see the appeal of poutine if this was my first experience with the food. I don't know if the cheese curds had melted while being delivered, but Stratos' poutine looked more like a heart attack in an aluminum tin as opposed to something gourmet and delicious.

Chez AshTon (Old City)

My last real poutine experience in Quebec was at a fast food restaurant called Chez AshTon. This was a chain (I saw another in the nearby town of Levis). From reading the menu, this looked like a French Canadian version of an Arbys, only better. They seemed to specialize in roast beef sandwiches and burgers, but of course had a selection of poutine to choose from. Quality wise, Chez AshTon seemed slightly better than American fast food chains with signs advertising the use of local beef from Quebec free from antibiotics and hormones. I was going to just try one of the poutines here, but then I saw the sign for Assiette Rosbif Ave Poutine. A roast beef sandwich with poutine seemed to be getting the best of both at Chez AshTon. I didn't have high expectations from a fast food chain, but I enjoyed this meal. The roast beef sandwich, fries, and cheese curds were placed on a plate alongside lettuce, tomato, and peas. Everything on the plate was then smothered in a pool of gravy. The poutine itself didn't have fancy toppings, but the cheese curds did squeak. The roast beef definitely seemed better than it's Arby's equivalent. It seemed more like meat rather than something highly processed. The gravy made it better, with the tasty sauce soaking into the bun. The bun was the weak spot of the meal. Almost all the bread I had in Quebec City was amazing, but this was a standard hamburger bun. The peas were unexpected but were a nice touch (again, made even better soaked in gravy). I'm glad I was pleased with fast food poutine!

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Potato Chips

While talking about poutine, we can't forget the poutine flavored Ruffles sold in all the stores in Quebec. They were very salty, but did somewhat have a gravy flavor. Definitely not the same as actual poutine, but a local flavor nonetheless. I also tried a Canadian orange soda that I had never heard of the brand...

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