Poutinerie Jean Talon is the newer sister restaurant of Cafe de L’Orangerie (review here) that specializes in poutine. They just had their one-year anniversary and put on some anniversary specials like $3 craft beer for a week (until May 8, 2016). That was music to my ears so I checked them out. The place was empty at 6:00, so I think this place really flies under the radar. I didn’t even know about it until I was in the area to go to Harkness & Co Butchers.
Poutinerie Jean Talon are on East Broadway near Fraser, on the same block as Pizzeria Barbarella.
They had posted on their Facebook page that they had some anniversary specials. I wasn’t expecting their windows to be boarded up though! Apparently some douchebag broke their windows last month, and as is typical in this city, it was taking forever to get them fixed. Too bad I wasn’t gonna get enough sunlight for my pictures…I sat near the front door to make do 😛
While I was eating, some skater dude came in and bought three orders of $1 edamame beans to go. The song on the sound system at that moment was A-ha’s “Take On Me” and the guy ordering went on a tangent about the “literal version” of the music video on YouTube (which you can watch here). The guy behind the counter had no freakin’ idea what he was talking about 😀
The main poutine menu. Their regular poutine uses mozzarella (like Cafe de L’Orangerie does) and their special poutine uses cheese curds. You get a choice of one of five gravies/sauces:
- Japanese Curry Sauce
- Beef Stew Sauce
- Cream of Mushroom Sauce
- Classic Gravy with Onions and Mushrooms
- Plain Gravy
They are all vegetarian except for the Beef Stew Sauce, and presumably made from scratch. The Beef Stew Sauce I had at Cafe de L’Orangerie definitely tasted like it was made from scratch.
Looks like they’re trying to branch out a bit by doing Japanese-style tonkatsu sandwiches…
…and also Japanese-style curry rice.
I’m happy with the taplist here! Half the battle has already been won! Steel & Oak and Strange Fellows are great local choices to have on tap.
Steel & Oak Royal City Ale (5%). Really great easy-drinking American blonde ale with an aromatic floral hop aroma. I haven’t had this since Steel & Oak opened almost two years ago. Back then it didn’t make much of an impact, but tasting it now it’s everything you’d want in a blonde ale. Almost had a creaminess to it. The glassware at Poutinerie Jean Talon is impeccably clean. Not enough places pay attention to their glassware.
For their $3 special, looks like they’re using 12oz glasses instead of their regular 16oz glasses (as listed in the menu).
Tableside condiments. Franks Red Hot, pepper, and salt. Cutlery and napkins in a basket.
Homemade Rice Croquette ($1). On special for $1 each only for their first anniversary weeklong promo. They usually cost $5 for two (this is one croquette cut in half). They contain rice, potato, onion, edamame beans, and pork.
You get a squeeze bottle of brown sauce that looks and tastes like Bulldog Sauce. A nice carby snack! Frying was done well. Sufficiently crispy and not greasy.
Special Poutine with Cheese Curds ($8.25 for a small) with Classic Gravy with Onions and Mushrooms. Really enjoyed this, even more so than the poutine at their sister restaurant Cafe de L’Orangerie. Main difference was the coated fries here were fried crisper and were more delicious because of the contrast between the crisp but not tough outside and the smooth insides. As a rule I hate coated fries but in this case they made them work.
The “classic gravy” was mild yet flavourful, tasting like it was made from scratch. They thankfully hold back on the salt here. I did shake a bit of salt on it halfway through, just to kick it up a little bit. The gravy is the kind that you could drink by the cupful. The meltingly soft onions were sweet and eye-rolling. Chunks of mushroom added to the meaty character (even though it’s a vegetarian gravy).
Unfortunately, the cheese curds weren’t squeaky. But that’s basically my only complaint against an otherwise really good poutine. The most squeaky cheese curds I’ve had locally are the ones at Spud Shack in New West (review here).
I feel like this place is what a place in Japan would be like if the owner somehow got fascinated by French-Canadian poutine then opened up his own poutine restaurant in Japan. But the place is here, right in Vancouver. The question of whether this is “real” poutine is kinda beside the point because it tastes great on its own merits: the rigidly crispy fries, the mild yet deep gravies. There’s also quite a bit of poutine add-ons available (hamburger patty, fried prawns, pepperoni, garlic mayo, etc) if you wanna go a bit crazy.
One of the clues that show how clean the glassware is — there should be striations of foam clinging to the glass. It’s like you can see how many sips it took to drink my beer 😉 If the glass was dirty,
you’d see a single sheet of foam the distribution of foam would be more random or maybe not cling to the sides at all.
Another $3 special beer for the road: Strange Fellows Nocturnum Dark IPA (6.5%). My favourite dark IPA (aka Cascadian Dark Ale) by far. Really nice balance of roastiness and aromatic hoppiness.
I dunno if the poutine here will please everyone. It’s a bit different from the more prototypical, traditional poutine…the flavours here are milder, similar to how Japanese cheesecake is lighter and less sweet than regular cheesecake. If stiff, crispy fries and mild-yet-deep gravy sounds good to you, then you’ll like this place. And the attention to craft beer is a big plus.
A Japanese curry poutine sounds great right now!