Oh My Curd – my favourite food week is upon us! Lucky for me, I’ve already had my stretchy pants on for weeks. Talk about perfect timing to be pregnant! If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed a lot of posts about poutine; I’m an official Poutine Pusher for #PoutineWeekYYC again this year!
Calgary’s Poutine Week is the seven days of the year you can eat poutine guilt-free! Why? Every poutine sold at participating restaurants provides a meal to a youth in need thanks to Mealshare YYC! Last year, 8,000 poutines were sold over the course of the week, providing 8,000 meals to those in need. We’re looking to break that record for 2018, & with 85 amazing restaurants participating in the cause, we have high hopes!
It’s easy to get involved:
- Find a restaurant or poutine you want to try at poutinewithpurpose.com
- Eat poutine.
- Provide a meal to youth in need
- Tell everyone!
This week, I tested 5 of those 85 poutines. If you need some help narrowing down the list, here are my thoughts on the five poutines I tried.
I’d been meaning to get to Calcutta Cricket Club since they opened, so when I saw them on the list, they were my first pick. I’d been hearing rave reviews about this 17th ave spot since they opened this summer.
CCC has two options on the menu this week. Both include curry in place of the usual gravy, either butter masala or fenugreek-cream. As I think you’d expect from a Indian-inspired poutines, they’re spicy & full of flavour. The fries are seasoned with Kashmiri spices & would stand up on their own as a fantastic snack over cocktails. I’ve been obsessed with fenugreek lately, so I immediately feel in love with the fenugreek-cream curry. It’s to die for! & the Butter Masala has a hint of that Butter Chicken flavour that’s so popular, but stands on it’s own. To top it all off, they brought in some seriously legitimate cheese curds. (Honestly, these were the most authentic curds I tasted all week – the squeak!) They didn’t cut any corners with these dishes & it showed in each beautifully executed component.
If you like spicy Indian flavours, I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a better poutine option this week. I couldn’t get enough of either option & definitely struggled to put down my fork. My only regret is not asking to take the leftovers home with me.
On top of the delicious food, both the ambience & service are spot on. I’m already planning my next visit – I think I need to try the rest of the sharing-friendly menu, & hopefully enjoy one of their fantastic-sounding cocktails post-baby.
My next stop was Wine Bar Kensington, a hidden gem & sister restaurant to Brasserie & Container Bar. I think Brasserie is one of the best kept secrets in the city, & my personal go-to spot for fantastic brunch without a wait. Now that I’ve given away my personal brunch secrets, let’s talk about the Not-So-Traditional Poutine from @winebarkensi .
Featuring duck gravy, pickle-brined shoestring fries, Alberta cheese curds, chives, radishes, & a lovely side of house-made pickles, it’s delicious. I thought this one was the perfect combination of rich, comforting, & flavourful, all while not putting me into a total food coma.
I’m honestly not usually a fan of shoestring fries, but they worked so well here. The dish comes with the gravy on the bottom, so the chef suggested I mix the shoestring fries into it. I think this is the key to the success of the shoestring fries as they don’t get soggy from having the gravy on them from the start. The chives & radishes serve to balance the richness of the duck gravy, which is exactly what the dish needs. I’m always a sucker for a side of pickles, especially when they’re as delicious as Wine Bar’s, so they were the perfect accompaniment to a well-executed poutine.
Third on my personal poutine week tour was Cleaver. My friend, Heather, joined me for dinner Friday evening & we started the evening with their AMASIAN duck & pickle poutine.
This one has a lot going on, in all the right ways: double dipped duck fat fries with confit duck leg, topped with teriyaki gravy, pickled zucchini, pickled onion, Gochujang aioli, & Montreal cheese curds.
The promise of pickles, duck, & Gochujang were what immediately drew me to this one when I saw it on the roster. Despite these heavy hitting flavours, it’s somehow both balanced & complex. We both really enjoyed each varied bite. & I even learned something new, pickled zucchini is delicious! Before tasting this one, I was a bit worried it might have too many competing elements, but they all really worked together.
During our meal, our server shared a fun fact about how they landed on this particular poutine as their entry for the competition. They held an in-house competition amongst their staff a few weeks ago & it came out on top! How’s that for an ingenious way to come up with a creative new dish?
After a weekend of bachelorette activities, my best friend & I decided to grab a late lunch at Royale on Sunday. If you haven’t been since this space was Melrose, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how bright, open, & beautiful it is inside. It’s the perfect spot for a boozy brunch with girlfriends or a romantic date night. The service was friendly & welcoming & we never once felt rushed. It was a beautiful spot for a lazy afternoon catch up.
The menu at Royale is French-inspired, so they went with some pretty classic flavours: duck leg con fit, cheese curds, & pan gravy. This is not a poutine for the faint of heart; it’s huge! If you’re not the biggest duck lover, I would probably advise trying a different poutine this week. This is a true homage to the bird. There is so much rich, duck flavour in every bite. Even with two of us, we couldn’t get halfway through this one. Bring friends. Order some fun drinks. Sample a couple other things from their delicious menu. That’s how I would do it. 😉
My last stop is a neighbourhood favourite. I made a reservation for lunch at 4th Spot this week, hoping the weather would cooperate & I could walk over with Odin & enjoy their patio. I couldn’t have planned it any better. We had the perfect day. I found a quiet spot at the edge of the patio in the sun, where I could pay attention to the doggo while enjoying my lunch. I think he might have stolen the show for everyone else on that patio though, with that adorable mug. He has a real knack for winning people over.
On to the poutine, though! This was another monster serving. 4th Spot is doing a BBQ Burnt Ends Poutine this week. Their hand cut kennebec fries are topped with Quebec cheese curds, brisket burnt ends, crispy jalapeños, crispy onion strings, & covered in homemade gravy & BBQ sauce drizzle.
My favourite part of this poutine was the crispy jalapeños. I could not finish this one, but I made sure to eat every last jalapeño. They were battered & fried, & so addictive. All of the flavours are fantastic, but it is very heavy. I was glad to have a walk home afterwards! If I didn’t love the crispiness of the jalapeños so much, I might suggest they be fresh, just to offer a counterbalance to the heaviness. Then again, poutine is supposed to be heavy, so I can’t hold that against it.
After a week of sampling poutines, I’d like to be able to say that my cheese cravings are satisfied, but pregnancy doesn’t seem to care that I’ve consumed enough to last me a few weeks. I am looking forward to some lighter meals over the next week, but with so many delicious options out there still, I’m having a hard time not finding an excuse to grab another Mealshare poutine. It’s for a good cause, right?
As always, thanks to Karen for organizing this amazing event & thinking of me again this year. I always love being part of Poutine Week, & the fact that it’s turned into such a great opportunity to give back to our community, with the help of Mealshare, may just be the best part. Thank you also to all the restaurants who hosted me & were so open to chatting about their creations this week – you guys have been so awesome & accommodating! I can’t wait to find out who are overall winner is!
Happy Poutine Week, friends!
(I unfortunately had to miss my favourite event of poutine week – the Gravy Bowl – which was a huge success! Anju took home first place in the competition this year. Congrats to Roy & his awesome team! Find my previous year’s posts here, including my first Poutine Crawl experience way back in 2014! I can’t believe this is my 5th year of poutine-ing!)