It’s the Canada Day weekend and I can’t think of any better way of celebrating than with some poutine. In that vein, it sounds like a good time for yet another one of my poutine reviews.
Regular readers know that New York Fries’ basic poutine is my favourite. While there are plenty of independent restaurants that do great poutine (La Banquise in Montreal comes to mind), NYF generally wins out for me overall because of a number of factors: there’s usually an outlet nearby, the cost is good and it’s fast. The quality, while perhaps not as good as a restaurant, is also considerably above the other fast-food chains.
New York Fries, which is Canadian if you didn’t know, has been serving regular poutine since 1989, but over the past few years the chain has been adding different varieties to match the growth of upstart Smoke’s. The recently introduced pulled-pork joins the plain basic kind, as well as the braised beef and curried chicken poutines, on the list. Founder Jay Gould also considers the “Works” and “Veggie Works” fries among his poutine offerings, but if it doesn’t have cheese curds, I can’t in good faith include them.
All told, that means the chain now has four proper kinds of poutine, a drop in the bucket compared to Smoke’s 20-plus. When I interviewed him a while back for my Report on Business feature (links to PDF file), Gould said the thinner selection was a conscious decision – that concentrating on just a few kinds would inevitably allow him to offer them at a higher quality.
It turns out he was right. While I’m not a big fan of the braised beef poutine and only lukewarm on the curried chicken, the pulled-pork is clearly the best of the bunch. And I’m not a big pork fan.
Pulled-pork poutine happens to be Smoke’s biggest seller, which is why New York Fries has added it. I’ve found Smoke’s version, however, to be a little too sweet and there’s generally too much of the pork, which overpowers the fries themselves.
New York Fries’ version, on the other hand, is just perfect. The pulled-pork comes in a tomato-like sauce, which looks like it’s going to be either too sweet or too tart, but it actually turns out to be neither. It’s a little sweet but rather subdued and there’s also a smokey tang to it, so it tastes more down-home barbecuey.
The amount of pork is also just right; not too little so that you feel like they’re skimping, but not so much that you get sick of it, which has unfortunately been my experience with Smoke’s version. And finally, I just prefer NYF’s actual fries – they’re crisper and tastier.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Smoke’s too. My favourites there are the regular Veggie (the gravy seems to taste better than the beef version) and, if I’m exceptionally hungry, the Nacho Grande. But I’m now going to have a tough decision to make when frequenting New York Fries: do I go with the traditional or the pulled-pork?
Have a great Canada Day weekend! I’ll be back here on Tuesday.