In Search of Poutine

If you’ve ever been to Montreal or Toronto, you’ve probably been confronted by poutine (pronounced poo-TEEN), a ubiquitous Canadian snack food of French fries covered in gravy, cheese curds, and optional toppings (from mushrooms to bacon to shredded chicken). Recently the tradition found its way to New York, with Manhattan’s first all-poutine restaurant set to open any day, thereby making the dish the first Canadian export that could accurately be labeled “trendy.”

But now, thanks to University City’s brand-new Blockley Pourhouse, you don’t have to travel northward to sample poutine. Chef Ross Essner (formerly of the ill-fated Django) found room for it on the Blockley’s snack menu, which otherwise features Essner’s takes on more standard fare, like wild mushroom potato skins and curried onion rings.

Essner covers his fries — quite yummy on their own — with caramelized onion gravy, slices of short rib, and chunks of Velveeta-colored “squeaky cheese,” so named because it literally (and somewhat disconcertingly) squeaks in your mouth when you bite down on it. The Blockley’s poutine is as good as poutine needs to be. More importantly, it’s $8 for a giant plate of the stuff, which is all the Class of 2012 needs to hear.

The Blockley Pourhouse, 3801 Chestnut Street, 215-222-1234.

UPDATE: A reader tells me that the New Wave Café in Queen Village once had poutine — “Montreal Fries” on the menu — until Craig LaBan tore them up in his review. They were promptly removed.

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  • Patrick

    I have yet to have a decent poutine in this area but am looking forward to try the Blockley Pourhouse version. For the decadent soul, do the foie gras poutine at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal. It’s about as good as it gets.

  • katerine rollet

    It’s great that you can get a poutine in Philly, but the best ones are still made in Montreal. Have a look the glory of this greasy, decadent and succulent meal from La Banquise. Montreal’s best poutine restaurant:

  • blosssom

    My mother is still a Canadian citizen after coming to the states in ’59. So it goes without saying that I have eaten a poutine ot three in my day. When I go home, I have to have one in the cafe in the Montreal, Dorval airport before I can even think about getting on my connecting flight to the saguenay region. Poutine in Philly sounds like a great idea, However I have never seen the cheese curds that quintessential to the dish in this country. Not to mention that the best of this cheese is from the saguenay and sold under the brand name “st Laurent” I would kill,die or steal to find good poutine here. Just a factoid: Canadas signature dish was first concocted in Drummondville, just outside of Montreal. Also there is so much more to canadian cuisine, You have your tortiere, pate a viandeand pate de salmon en croute. Ugh its making me homesick just thinking about it

  • Jan Klincewicz

    Can anyone mention Montréal cuisine without the mention of Smoked Meat ??