Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Poutine c/o La Banquise

After checking in at our hotel, which was in the Plateau neighborhood right across from Parc de la Fontaine, we regrouped, cleaned up and formed a plan. The plan was basically to check out La Banquise, as M.'s trusty guidebook had declared it the best spot for poutine. And you can't very well go to Montreal and not have at least one serving of the stuff. We had a few setbacks in immediate gratification, as far as that goes...the place is cash only so we first went in search of an ATM. And let me just tell you, we walked many, many, many blocks and passed literally 50 or more restaurants, bars, cafes and shops ... but not a single bank, convenience store or bodega. It was really weird. And when we finally did find such a place, which fell on the 'bodega' side of things, the machine told me that it wouldn't give me money on two different cards, even though there was no good reason for such an attitude. Anyways, part of almost any adventure with M. (or from her point of view, with me) involves a fair amount of not-actually-getting-what-you-want-in-any-immediate-way-ness. M. was able to have a good transaction with the machine, and we figured she could buy the meal and I could reimburse her on the next thing. Back we walked to La Banquise. When we had walked by it the first time the line for a table was out the door. By the time we returned it was only about three tables' deep, and it was probably good that we got some exercise in before our 'dinner' commenced. I started with a Belle Geulle Pilsner, which was perfect. M. went with another Canadian-brewed beer, but of the blond variety. White Horse maybe? If you're into the sweet and cloudy then you'd like it.
La Banquise has any number of possible meals for its clientele, but the clear draw is the poutine, which they serve up traditionally or in any number of delightful or frightening ways. I wanted something a little more special than the classic, but not so much so that I wouldn't be able to truly appreciate and understand the nature of the classic. To that end, I ordered the Poutine Frank, which was the classic poutine of French fries, cheese curds and gravy with the added wonder of Merguez sausage. I will happily pat my back on making a good choice here. Sometimes I go too crazy and order something to complicated or exotic at a place where simplicity rules, but in this case the balance was ideal. I really got a sense of what the gravy tasted like, what the texture of the fries were, and the splendity (not a word) or the cheese curds could induce with only the slight added bonus of a little lamb sausage. M. went with the classic and one couldn't tell the difference between the two unless they had an active bite of sausage.
This was a far better experience than my first poutine. I think this was mainly due to the quality of the poutine and the nature of the fries...oh yeah, and being in Montreal. I imagine that the dish would have been even more satisfying if we were both more in our cups, but with only one drink each and no earlier imbibing we were basically two entirely sober people eating french fries, cheese curds and gravy for dinner. Perhaps unacceptable behavior usually, but that's one of the glories of being on vacation.

M. and I then returned back to the hotel at a reasonable hour in order to make the most of the next day.

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