02/06/2013 10:08 am ET Updated Apr 08, 2013

Poutine Week Montreal, Smothered With Creativity



by Mr. Lew, Burger Expert for the Menuism Burger Blog
Photo by Daniel Roy

If there is one food item synonymous with the province of Quebec and the city of Montreal, it's poutine. Poutine is a dish that marries a great deal of fries, squeaky cheese curds, and ladles of gravy sauce. Some people think the combination is disgusting, but a majority of Quebecers think it's the holy grail of all dishes.

Just four short months ago, the city of Montreal was introduced to its first ever Burger Week. Now it's time to see what Montreal restaurants have to offer when it comes to the trinity of fries, cheese, and sauce. From February 1 to 7, 30-some restaurants will create poutines that stray from the norm, hoping to garner the elusive vote of the hungry consumer.

Poutine Week, which relies heavily on the use of social media, has loyal poutine lovers divided. While many welcome the week-long event, some question the need to diverge so far from the traditional poutine. Purists get flustered with even the slightest modification on the poutine, whether in the form of an additional ingredient, replacement of fries to another vegetable, or even a totally different type of sauce altogether. Anything that strays from the regular French fry, cheese curd, and sweet gravy sauce is simply blasphemy.

While the group of poutine traditionalists represents a minority in the city, most people are abuzz over La Sémaine de la Poutine Montréal, covering a wide variety of exotic poutine selections.

With Poutine Week Montreal now underway, here are five of the poutines included in the event that would make anyone salivate:

1. La Betise - General Tao Poutine

Even though you'll never find General Tao's chicken in mainland China, a Montreal restaurant known as La Betise has added an Asian tapas twist on the iconic Quebec dish. Enjoy your fries and cheese curds with General Tao sauce.

2. Fabergé - Breakfast Poutine

Fabergé, a restaurant that touts itself a chili and brunch specialist, is putting forth a breakfast poutine that will make you seriously wonder what you've been doing with breakfast all this time. On top of the traditional poutine ingredients, this poutine includes caramelized peppers, Hollandaise sauce, and an egg.

3. Café Pavé - Rootine

Even vegetarians have a place in Poutine Week Montreal. Café Pavé, having opened a year ago in Montreal's Old Port district, is a restaurant that specializes mostly in sandwiches. From time to time, the chef likes to take on challenges, and his vegetarian poutine passes the test. This interpretation includes roasted root vegetables, wild mushrooms, a red wine sauce, and creamy Macedonian feta cheese.

4. Poutineville - Le Montrealais

If you have to name a quintessential Montreal dish outside of the poutine, your next thought should be smoked meat. Poutineville, having just recently opened its third location, allows customers to custom create their own poutine. In its signature Poutine Week creation, a generous amount of smoked meat is added along with Swiss cheese, mushrooms, and a breaded pickle.

5. Decarie Hot Dog - The Decarie Classic

While most of the restaurants are trying to reinvent the wheel so to speak, one place is doing things the good old fashioned way. Decarie Hot Dog is an iconic Montreal institution. The service is fast and easy on the budget, and the special creation here is very clear. They're using real fries, real cheese curds, and real gravy. And as decades have proven, you can't go wrong with that.

Related Links from the Menuism Burger Blog:
• Burger Week MTL Highlights Montreal's Best Burgers
• 8 Great Non-Beef Burgers
• The World's Most Expensive Burgers
• The Best Burgers from Burger Trucks

Poutine Week Montreal, Smothered With Creativity originally published on the Menuism Dining Blog.

Mr. Lew is a high school teacher from Montreal, Quebec. In 2009, after trying Montreal's supposed best burger, he decided to see what else was out there. So, every week, a new burger was added to the Great Burger Search. Since then, Mr. Lew has tried more than 100 burgers in cities across Canada, and hopes to one day expand to the rest of North America. Since Mr. Lew is part Chinese, the search isn't limited only to great burgers, but to other types of cuisine that makes Montreal one of the greatest culinary cities in the world.

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