Poutine roundup: from classic to 'obscene'

Categories: Eat This
Poutine_Wikimedia.jpg
Wikimedia Commons
You know what it is, but do you know where to get it?

Admittedly, we're not exactly on par with Canada when it comes to the availability of poutine. In fact in Quebec, where the dish is said to have originated, you can order a side of the cheese-curd and gravy-covered fries at any McDonald's. We'll probably never get to that point (do we really want to?), but quite a few Twin Cities restaurants have poutine on the menu, and among those are some really fantastic standouts.

We've listed some of the local eateries you can count on to get your poutine fix -- in no particular order, by the way. Think of this as more of a public service announcement.   

For classic poutine, we're talking crisp, thick-cut French fries with fluffy interiors and fresh (not fried) cheese curds, all smothered in brown (usually beef-based) gravy. Try:  


Tom Reid's: It's a downtown St. Paul hockey bar with French-Canadian lingo scattered throughout the menu, so the poutine here is about as classic as it comes in the Twin Cities. 

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B FRESH Photography
Classic poutine served here.
Rye Delicatessen: Fries here can be hit or miss, but Rye does stay true to their Montreal deli model by offering a very traditional take on poutine. Theirs is usually served with fresh cheese curds, but they will fry them on request.

Triple Rock Social Club: In addition to its brown gravy version, which always seems to melt the cheese curds perfectly, the Triple Rock also offers a vegetarian version made with an equally savory vegetable-based gravy.

For extreme poutine, places that push this already over-the-top dish into true gluttonous glory, try:

The Strip Club: The Poutine Obscene is an apt description for a dish that adds pork belly and super-intense port wine gravy to a plate of gooey white cheddar cheese fries. The result is simultaneously stunning and coma-inducing.

Thumbnail image for Muddy Waters sign.jpg
Emily Utne
Come early for breakfast poutine.
Muddy Waters: There's so much to love about the food at Muddy Waters. The kitchen stays open late, the bakery items are just as good as its myriad hot dogs, and it has truly delicious, thoughtful vegan options. The breakfast poutine is not one of those options, but it is indeed extreme. A bed of home fries gets topped with fried egg, ham, cheddar cheese curds, and a good dose of gravy, but you have to come in for weekend brunch to get it.   

Burger Jones: If you have ever had the White Trash Burger at Burger Jones, you can pretty much guess what its version of poutine is like. It comes standard with fried cheese curds, a thick beef gravy, and chopped bacon. Ask for your bacon chicken fried, if you really want to live.

If it's fancied up a bit, or given its own signature twist, we're calling it distinctive poutine, and here's where to get it:

Forepaugh's: Donald Gonzalez, chef at Forepaugh's, has publicly promised he would never take their beloved poutine off the menu, which is good news for diners seeking something a little unexpected out of this binge-worthy dish. Forepaugh's is made a little sweeter and quite a lot spicier with the addition of hot pickled chilies and a bit of chili glaze. This one could easily eek its way into the extreme category, since Forepaugh's gives the option of adding foie gras. 

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Vincent's bar menu includes poutine.
Vincent, A Restaurant: Vincent may be super upscale, but it has still made room on its bar menu for a refined take on poutine, which uses the normal French fry and fresh cheese curd bed but has a crazy-delicious green peppercorn sauce instead of the standard brown.

The Lowry: This version may be under the snacks category on the Lowry's menu, but the addition of tender braised beef to all the expected components really kicks this one into full-meal territory.

Tot Boss: For the poutine purist, this one probably wouldn't make the short list, but Dan Docken's Tot Boss food truck does indeed have tot poutine on the menu. 

Finally, there's secret poutine, the kind that's not on the menu but the kitchen will almost always have the ingredients on hand to make it for you if you ask nicely. Do a little song and dance for secret poutine if you happen to find yourself hungry at:

Tria: Poutine used to be on the menu at this North Oaks restaurant, and regular customers tell us they'll still make it subject to sauce availability, but even their hand-cut fries with rich béarnaise are a worthy substitution.

Crooked Pint Ale House: They've got fries, they've got deep-fried Ellsworth cheese curds, and they've got a gravy-laden Washington Avenue pot roast sandwich on the menu. Will they put them all together for you? Absolutely.

Have more hot, secret poutine tips or places you think should be noted? Leave them in the comments below.


Location Info

Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub

258 7th St. W., St. Paul, MN

Category: Restaurant

Rye Delicatessen & Bar - CLOSED

1930 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant

Triple Rock Social Club

629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Music

The Strip Club Meat & Fish

378 Maria Ave., St. Paul, MN

Category: Restaurant

Muddy Waters Bar & Eatery

2933 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Music

Burger Jones

3200 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant

Forepaugh's Restaurant

276 S. Exchange St., St. Paul, MN

Category: Restaurant

Vincent - A Restaurant

1100 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant

The Lowry

2112 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant

Tria

5959 Centerville Road, North Oaks, MN

Category: Restaurant

Crooked Pint Ale House

501 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Music


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10 comments
KG Girl73
KG Girl73

My first introduction to poutine were thr TOT BOSS food truck's poutine tots. Melted Ellsworth cheese curds between tots and gravy? Delicious!!!

S. Abdul Otherwise Himself
S. Abdul Otherwise Himself

Rye does not make a true classic poutine.  Says who?  My Canadian-born wife. The gravy is on par with what you'd expect from a Canadian KFC (which I've had, she's dead-on correct).  Which is great stuff on KFC fast-food fries, the chicken too...but not what a Canadian would order on their poutine.  If you enjoy it?  Fabulous.  By all means, don't let me stop you.  But don't bring your Canadian friends, expecting to impress them.  

And before anyone even thinks about some silly  'prairie and west coast Canadian vs. Montreal gravy' prattle, I should tell you where the wife's cousin has lived the last two years.  Yup.  Montreal itself.  That was a pre-emptive shoosh.  SHOOSH before you start.

sprite
sprite

Sigh.  I really miss the poutine at Duplex.

Dave
Dave

Having spent time in Quebec I can say with experience that Rye's poutine tastes awful. Burger Jones's is also bad. Therefore I can't trust this list or take it seriously.

Jen Boyles
Jen Boyles

IMO, the best is at Sapor. They call them "Rarebit Fries"

PoutineFan!
PoutineFan!

Don't for the Dakota - they have a great poutine that they serve with a hangar steak.  Absolutely awesome!!!!

kill_the_wabbit
kill_the_wabbit

You're absolutely right, Dave. I've spent a lot of time in Montréal and the only—ONLY—poutine that came close in Minneapolis-St. Paul was at the now-closed Duplex. Burger Jones' poutine is horrendous. Everything Rye does is an abomination and would make customers of Schwartz's Deli (which is what they're trying to model themselves after) rend their garments and wail. The Lowry's? Go hang out in a cow pasture and have at the salt lick for an afternoon, it'll be roughly the same experience.

As with the Amsterdam Bar's bitterballen and fries (I've spent a lot of time in the Netherlands and Flanders, too, and Amsterdam can't even spell Dutch correctly much less cook it), this is a case of restaurant owners and chefs getting a little to big for their britches. They don't seem to bother going to these places to get a handle on the taste and feeling of the food—or even try to find someone who can describe it to them. So they plow ahead with whatever cute foreign trend will get them noticed by food reporters who can't bother researching any of the traditions they write about and lots and lots of people will write things like "killa fries n chris a really gr8 srver!!!!" on Yelp.

Really, just stick to the traditional French and American stuff. Minneapolis doesn't have a handle on the haute junk food of Québec and Holland just yet.

S. Abdul Otherwise Himself
S. Abdul Otherwise Himself

I can't speak for everything Rye's makes being abominable...but everything they served me sure fell short.  Including my fist-sized omelet 'from the other side' with scarcely a stitch of burnt onion which I waited 40 minutes to eat.  For a table of two.  In a half-empty restaurant.  Mind you, this was AFTER the local reviewers swore up and down things had improved.  Yikes?

Emily Weiss
Emily Weiss

It's simply a categorized list of places where poutine is available. We have gotten a lot of mail/comments since the Duplex closed with readers asking where they could find it. 

kill_the_wabbit
kill_the_wabbit

Heya, Emily — Just to clarify, I didn't mean anything in my comment to be a dig at your list at all. I know it was a compilation. My frustration is with reviews I've read of some of these places that praise the food's authenticity when, in reality, it's waaaay off the mark from the original. Is all.

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