When deconstructed, the ingredients in poutine are pretty good, but they’re even better when tangled up into a hot mess of fries coated in salty gravy with squeaky cheese curds.
We have our neighbors to the north to thank for the dish that’s perfect for pub fare. In Canada, you’ll find as many versions of poutine as you will find pizza in America. The dish fits into every culinary category — upscale, downscale, fast food.
Around Tacoma, you’re more likely to find poutine at a pub than a higher-end restaurant, but poutine does exist at both. Here are several to try.
FRIES AND GRAVY POUTINE, $8
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Bite at Hotel Murano, 1320 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma; 253-591-4151 or hotelmuranotacoma.com/eat-drink/bite
The Bite restaurant, located inside downtown Tacoma’s Hotel Murano, produces a poutine that has been my favorite in town for years (read this and this). It’s a boozy, decadent mess of a dish because executive chef Matt Stickle starts his gravy with four bottles of zinfandel and finishes it with sauteed crimini and garlic. The gravy is a sticky glaze that superbly coats the thin-cut fries that are peppered with a choice of either crumbled gorgonzola (my preference) or Beechers cheese curds (the curds weren’t hot enough for me). These are so good, you’ll want to jam them by the fistful into your mouth.
PUB-STYLE POUTINE, $9
Gordon and Purdy’s, 17136 Highway 410 E., Sumner; 253-750-4756 or gordonandpurdys.com
This pub poutine was just what I wanted with my pint of German brew at Bonney Lake’s newest addition, Gordon and Purdy’s, which opened in March in the old winery halfway up the Highway 410 hill from Sumner to Bonney Lake. This dish was well executed, although my visit was during the restaurant’s first few weeks of business. That’s why I won’t ding the kitchen for those cold curds, but at least they were Beechers brand ( that’s a Seattle cheese company). Thicker-cut fries had enough surface area to soak up the brown gravy, which was heavily seasoned, but not especially beefy tasting.
The Forum Tacoma, 815 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-830-2151 or eatattheforum.com
This was something I hadn’t seen before. Take curds, dunk them in batter, then fry them. That simple tweak changed the flavor and texture of the poutine at The Forum, a downtown Tacoma bar with an interesting cocktail menu. Instead of squeaky curds, they were molten cheese bombs. Fries were skin-on and thick cut, and quite tasty. Brown gravy ranked high for saltiness, but didn’t have much depth. Still, this dish was huge, cheap and built for sharing.
FROM MY DINING FILES
These specific poutine dishes have left the menus at each restaurant, but the restaurants still offer a version of poutine.
Last fall, at downtown Tacoma’s Pacific Grill, a tater tot poutine ($6) caught my fancy on the bar’s legendary happy hour menu (half off all day, every day in the bar). Instead of splashing the gravy over the top of the tots, it pooled at the bottom of the dish, which was topped with curds, bacon and sliced jalapenos. The current version of the bar’s tater tot poutine is made with duck gravy and lardons. Be still my heart.
Also last fall, Sixth Avenue’s Marrow served an austere version of poutine, but made with panko-crusted portobello mushrooms ($13). The vegetarian gravy on this one was something else. The menu now lists steak and poutine, but the mushroom poutine is long gone, unfortunately.
Have you seen poutine around town? Send me a note at the email below.