And here’s the catch… we want to give you an authentic experience so all of our reviews are done anonymously. As far as the restaurant is concerned, we’re just two patrons who take lots of photos of their food. Or are we?
This week, we hit up Poutineville, which recently opened in the Annex.
Address: 296 Brunswick Ave.
Closest subway: Bathurst Station
Drink menu: Specialty cocktails, beer
Service: Friendly and attentive
First Impressions: Toronto's love affair with poutine has been going strong for a few years now, and as such, we've become quite discerning when it comes to this Canadian classic. With the growing variety of options available to us, not just any ol' fries, cheese and gravy combo will do. Luckily, Poutineville delivers the goods. This Montreal-based chain opened its first Toronto offshoot a couple of months ago, and already it's become a must-visit destination for the city's poutine lovers. Like most of the other poutine haunts, it caters to the late night crowd (it's open until 4 a.m. on weekends), but Poutineville sets itself apart by also appealing to the dinner crowds. The impressive room makes you want to sit and savour instead of grabbing takeout, as does the above-average cocktail menu.
We started with the house specialty, a giant plate of crushed potatoes covered in cheese curds, mozzarella, braised beef and red wine gravy. The potatoes were deep-fried and maintained their crunchiness despite being drenched in dark, flavourful gravy and loaded with melted cheese. While the overall dish may be a bit too salty for some, we couldn't get enough of the tender, slow-cooked beef.
Pogo Poutine ($10.50)
Next up, we tried some build-your-own options. Much like at an all-you-can-eat sushi place, you're given a pencil and paper and you mark down what you'd like to eat. You start with your potatoes, then choose your cheeses, vegetables, and meat. We opted for shoestring fries topped with fresh curds, melted nacho cheese, poutine gravy and slices of Pogo. It looked -- and tasted -- like something you'd get a carnival. The fries were slightly cold by the time they arrived, but the cheese overload made up for it. We're not sure we'd opt for the nacho cheese again, but the Pogo slices were a definite hit.
Gyro Poutine ($11.25)
For our next creation, we opted for regular cut fries, gyro meat, poutine gravy and an extra serving of fresh curds. The gravy was very traditional and could have used a bit more of a kick, but we appreciated that there was still some skin left on the fries. What really stood out on this one though was the gyro, which was spiced very much like donair meat, and the perfectly squeaky curds.
Final Thoughts: The menu also includes sandwiches, steaks and burgers, though we can't imagine why anyone would even consider ordering anything but their stellar poutine. Since our favourite dish was a menu suggestion, we'll probably stick to their recommended combinations in the future instead of trying to create our own (though we'll be steering clear of their $100 menu option, which is appropriately called The Heart Attack). We were also impressed by the upscale cocktail selection, curated by Blowfish mixologist Nishantha Nepulangoda. We 've certainly never had a waiter ask "How is your drink expressing itself on your palate?" at our usual poutine place.