Poutine and I don’t share a special bond. This is why I chalk up never having dined at La Banquise before. The last time I craved poutine was over a decade ago during my first pregnancy and my reaction was what you would expect from a woman in her first trimester! People continued to convince me that La Banquise is the ultimate in spuds, curds and gravy because it can be dressed with more flare than a Lady Gaga set.
I was still sceptical even as I reviewed my menu choices. Every kind of meat or sauce imaginable is available but the combinations didn’t seem right. Nonetheless, I bit the bullet and chose as outrageously as I could as did some of the nine friends and family I brought with me on this gourmand pilgrimage.
My reaction after my first bite was not what I would have expected, which is why I always tell people “have low expectations, you will always be impressed!” AMAZING. This is how poutine should always be served up! I had The Reggae at $10.25 (or $15.50 for a large portion) comprises of steak haché, fresh tomatoes, hot peppers, guacamole and your traditional cheese curds with gravy. I am going to make an analogy here and hope that it works: if you love sushi, maki rolls in particular, you know that feeling when you are chewing on that combination of avocado, sweet rice, crispy dried seaweed, maybe some tempura cooked in sesame oil with a dollop of wasabi? All rolled into one, that’s the Banquise experience.
I sampled my dining companions’ orders’ as well to test whether my combination was not just an anomaly and I was not disappointed. The Boogalou, $10.95 (or $16.25 for the large) is a pulled pork dish covered with sour cream and creamy coleslaw. The Matty ($7.95) is topped with mushrooms, green peppers, bacon and onions and staff are accommodating as my friend asked them to hold the onions. The Dan Dan ($8.50) has generous bites of pepperoni, not slices but chunks, bacon and onions. Two girls both ordered the bacon which is just that additional ingredient and were happily satisfied. One decided not to order poutine and opted for the cheeseburger with bacon trio instead, which comes with a drink and fries for $8.60.
The three less adventurous ladies in our party ordered the classic traditional poutine with gravy and cheese at $6.75 $(10.75 for the large). I asked them if it was the best poutine that they ever had and they unanimously disagreed. I get that because in my opinion, classic poutine is just… meh. You need the merguez sausage, Swiss cheese, mushrooms and olives and anything else you can find in the kitchen cupboard to make poutine worth your while!
You can even customize your own poutine with toppings for as little as 95 cents (for onions) up to $3 for specialties like smoked meat, vegetarian meat replacements, vegan cheeses, and special sauces.
A word on portions: we all ordered the regular as we were having lunch. The larger portions are a good $5 more depending on your order. They have a children’s menu but it does not include poutine! Among us were 6 children under the age of 13 and they all ordered from the adult menu and were able to finish their orders.
Ambiance is great! They have a terrace and it didn’t smell like a smoking lounge so we were able to enjoy our meal! The only caveat is I couldn’t order their micro brewed beer as zoning regulations forbid them from serving alcohol on the terrace.
Bottom line: La Banquise is a definite must even if you are not particular to the greasy, salty Quebec specialty. If you are adventurous on food combinations and flavours, you will be pleased!
La Banquise is open 24 hours. It is located at 994 Rachel E.
You can contact Esther with your food picks at firstname.lastname@example.org