As a semi-vegetarian (I have cheat days more often than I’d like to admit), I’m on a constant quest to scope out the best vegetarian options near campus, in the hope that I’ll cheat less. So far it’s been working. I now know exactly which Mexican restaurant serves the best veggie burrito in town.
Recently, it was suggested to me that I try out Smoke’s Poutinerie, at 2518 Durant Ave., a short two block walk from campus. I’d only had one other Smoke’s experience before this, an intoxicated cheat day, and I didn’t remember what I ordered, or what it tasted like. I did remember that the leftovers were pretty much an inedible mush, but drunk Sophia sure did like it fresh. Remembering this, I headed to Smoke’s with a semi-optimistic attitude and hope that drunk Sophia wasn’t crazy.
Upon entering, I was greeted by the friendly chef and a clean interior. Then, my eyes fell on the menu. The menu was surprisingly large. I thought poutine was made of simple building blocks: cheese curds, gravy and fries. Boy, was I wrong. Luckily, I was restricted to the vegetarian menu, which had significantly less options. I ordered the Veggie Traditional, a concoction of custom seasoned fries, brown vegetable gravy and Quebec cheese curds. I opted for the traditional vegetarian style, as opposed to the Veggie Nacho Poutine, the Veggie Deluxe Poutine or the Rainbow Poutine. Each of these options include various other toppings, like vegetables and sauces. For my first memorable poutine experience, I wanted to start with the basics.
Served in a to-go box, the fries are placed in the bottom, with the cheese curds on top. A fairly large portion of gravy is poured over it all. Not really knowing what cheese curds taste like, I was a bit wary. And let’s be real, anything called a curd just sounds unappetizing. I was pleasantly surprised. The cheese curds are not too gooey or molten lava hot. However, I only really needed one bite of them. While the gravy tasted fine, the texture was a bit gelatinous, and I was initially put-off. The fries, though, held up their form and texture, even after being soaked in gravy.
Toward the end of the meal, I began to realize that the gravy and curds were only on the top portion of the serving, and that at the bottom was just flavorless, reject fries. I was left wanting more gravy or cheese curds to cover up the flavor of the lackluster, yet still crispy, fries. The snack size was optimal, and I feel like anything more would feel too excessive. However, as one of the closest things to fast food near campus, Smoke’s Poutinerie isn’t the worst choice for carbo-loading .
All-in-all, Smoke’s is the perfect place to cheat on your carb-free diet, or to satisfy your drunchies. Drunk Sophia was incredibly happy with the decision to go to Smoke’s, whereas sober Sophia was less enamored with the entire experience. While I probably won’t find myself craving this type of food, I can’t completely count it out. I could still see myself going with a group of friends one night, and being happy with what I get. Let’s not forget that Smoke’s Poutinerie is essentially the McDonald’s of poutine cuisine, and, therefore, should not be held to the same standard as your Canadian mamma’s homemade poutine.