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veg poutine in toronto

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i have been on a poutine binge ever since i got back from montreal. best veg poutine i have had is of course still in la belle province, but i've sought out some of the veg poutine joints i've heard about in toronto and here's what i think:

utopia (college/clinton) - my fave so far! they use cheese curds and while not the fresh squeaky stuff like smoke's poutinerie (see below), the mushroom gravy is very tasty, as are the fries (made from fresh-cut potatoes). when i first tried this a long time ago, i thought the gravy was too salty but have had it a few times since and that problem seemed to resolve itself since then (either my tastebuds changed or that was an off day). i haven't had this in awhile but i seem to recall wishing it was layered a bit better cuz by the time you reach the bottom, it is mostly just fries and gravy.. but i might be remembering wrong. they also have a tasty gourmet version with goat cheese and sauteed mushrooms. yum!

clinton's tavern (bloor/clinton) - tasty enough gravy and the cheese curds are fine (though as above) but the fries suck. that ruined it for me. they use frozen fries (mccain, or one of those other generic frozen fries). how hard is it to use real potatoes?? i would not have this again unless feeling desperate.. but fortunately, utopia is just a 5-minute walk away.

burger king - yes, the poutine is actually veg! i looked up the ingredients online. i don't remember much about it now except that everything was just slopped on top (rather than mixed throughout in layers) and while very cheap, it was pretty disgusting and i would definitely not have it again.

smoke's poutinerie (adelaide/john) - this is that new poutine place. tried it a few days ago and it was pretty good. the fries were good, fresh-cut fries (though i don't think the special seasoning is necessary - i think it would be better without, in fact.. plus, you can barely notice it aside from the fact that it makes the fries slightly more crusty), the curds were squeaky fresh and by far the best part of the whole thing, everything was layered throughout perfectly, but the veg gravy.. oh, the veg gravy. so disappointing. i found it very thin and bland. if only they would change the gravy and make it richer and more flavourful, this would be close to perfection.. but gravy is important to me so i would only have this again only if i'm in the area and craving poutine (i.e. no special trips just to get some regular veg poutine cuz utopia is a lot closer to me). they also have a veg variety with mushrooms, onions and peas (perhaps making it tastier?), and a 'nachos' version . i will return to at least try those two versions.
(i really hope someone from smoke's reads this - please improve your terribly thin & flavourless veg gravy and you have my heart, in more than just the artery clogging way)

*** places i have yet to try (anyone tried 'em?):

futures (bloor/bathurst) - i noticed it on their menu so i am assuming they just toss their mushroom gravy on top, and i am gonna take a guess that it won't be actual cheese curds.. but i do like their gravy a lot so i will give this a try sometime. my coworker says she tried it and it sucked, but i want to see for myself.

stampede bison grill (brock/queen) - have not yet tried it but hear promising things.. so we shall see. the price is cheap too!

sneaky dee's (college/bathurst) - the food at this place scares me in general, except when i've had a lot to drink and am craving greasy nachos at 3am. that said, i heard they have veg poutine? can anyone verify this? apparently, they do not use cheese curds though.

anyone know of any other veg-friendly poutine in town??

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  1. im a happy camper when I go to Utopia!!!

    1. update:

      I have heard that Lick's poutine is vegetarian

      7 Replies
      1. re: helenhelen

        I've heard it was too but when I asked the staff at my nearby Lick's, I was told that although the french fries are vegetarian, the poutine is not.

        1. re: toveggiegirl

          i emailed lick's off their website and was told the gravy is veg. i think people get confused about vegetarians eating dairy perhaps? or that gravy cannot possibly ever be veg.. i was told that by staff too.. but head office says all is ok..

          1. re: helenhelen

            Great! Thanks for clearing that up. I may have to run off and try it now. :)

            1. re: toveggiegirl

              The last time I tried Lick's poutine, they used shredded cheese -- so I can't recommend them.

              1. re: deejsylvis

                It's too bad about the shredded cheese but it's still a decent veggie option thanks to the gravy.

                Be warned, however - for some reason they do their fries in veggie oil but the onion rings in the same fryer as their chicken fingers, so those aren't really vegetarian...

                1. re: fleisch

                  Onion rings get cooked with the chicken at most places as the oil needsa be at a higher temperature than the fries' oil (and the same temp. as the chicken).

            2. re: helenhelen

              UPDATE! i went to lick's last week and had their poutine. thumbs down! the fries were okay (your standard fast food fries.. not fresh cut though, sadly) and the gravy was okay, but yes, they use grated cheese.. it's actually cheddar & monterey jack mix they put in your burgers. with the hot gravy, the result is that the cheese melts quickly and turns into a disgusting mess of cheese-gravy sauce.. it mixes in! so gross. if they called it "fries with gravy and grated cheese" i probably wouldn't be as disgusted, but for them to call this mess poutine...

              i also thought it was expensive for the small amount you get (i think about $4.00 for what felt more like a side serving).

        2. A warning about Futures: the mushroom gravy is not vegetarian, it's made with chicken stock.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mmmarmoset

            really?? damn, i'd been eating their gravy.. :/

            i found out by emailing them that lick's gravy is indeed veg.. so go nuts!

          2. Just had Smoke's Poutinerie's veggie poutine -- and I have to agree about the gravy. It's absolutely useless as a part of the combination; I wish I'd told them to leave it off, and I'd just made my own mushroom (or miso ...) gravy at home. I do want to go back and try the nacho, though -- the fries and cheese were good, so with tomato sauce instead of the gravy, it could be an interesting meal.

            5 Replies
            1. re: deejsylvis

              I have been to smokes poutinerie and have tried the veggie nacho poutine. It is a pretty good veggie poutine. Check it out http://smokespoutinerie.com/

              1. re: sweetfoodlover

                Just curious can anyone vouch for Smokes veggie gravy vs the regular? I've had the regular and think it's horrible. But have heard on here and from a couple of friends that the veggie gravy is stellar. I liked the fries but the meat gravy made it the first poutine I've ever had that I didn't want to finish. I'm really not that picky - canned beef gravy and grated cheese from a bag and I'll still gladly gobble it up. I really don't want to encourage them with my dollars if the veggie poutine love is based on post bar drunken taste buds which I highly suspect from some of my friends.

                1. re: abigllama

                  the times i have tried it (not in ages though), i thought the veg gravy was really bland.

                  1. re: helenhelen

                    HHH, get thee to stampede.

                    1. re: mikefly

                      now that the weather is nice, i will get myself there via bike ASAP :)

            2. perhaps related in a tangential way but does anyone know of a wheat or gluten free poutine in this town? Meat doesn't matter... just need a wheat free gravy! Smoke's uses wheat in theirs but i haven't yet asked Caplansky's.

              I only think it's realtaed because vegetarian/vegan friendly places seem to also be wheat/gluten allergy friendly.

              Anyone know a joint off the top of their head?

              2 Replies
              1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                I have just contacted the new Poutini's House of Poutine on Queen Street (which just opened) because I too cannot eat wheat-thickened gravy. I actually have never tried poutine because of it. Sigh. Anyway, they told me that they are working on a new gluten-free gravy! How exciting is that! Please do contact them and tell them you're interested because they may not end up producing any if they don't get enough support.

                1. re: balletdancingceliac

                  their website reports that this exists now

              2. UPDATE: i tried to go to stampede today but it was closed.. so i decided i may as well go back to smoke's and try one of the ones i haven't tried yet.. i got the "veggie deluxe" which has peas, sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions on top. the gravy was still bland on a flavour-level (flavour being a totally different thing than salt.. i prefer gravy with flavour rather than just salt which is what this is).. the fries were not that great this time (they definitely lacked the crispy freshness that i remember from last time, and were actually kinda soggy, though this may have to do with the gravy), and they seemed to skimp more on the curds. i did not like the onions one bit.. they had a sweet & sour taste to them (not good, imho.. especially the sourness) and a few pieces were way too big. by the end of it, i was actively seeking out mouthfuls with no onions. the peas added nothing to the mix. overall, i did not enjoy this very much and would not order it again.

                one more variety at smoke's to go..

                12 Replies
                1. re: helenhelen

                  Go to stampede. I am an anti-veggie myself, and yet... their vegan gravy the closest thing to a Quebecois gravy I've found in Toronto.

                  IMHO Stampede has the best (traditional) poutine in the city.

                  1. re: mikefly

                    I just had this (again) tonight! Squeaky curds!!!! So good.

                    1. re: fluffysouffle

                      yeah.

                      1. re: mikefly

                        finally tried stampede's poutine today and i am happy to report that it was delicious. i think it is my favourite so far! flavourful gravy (pretty "meaty" tasting), fresh & squeaky curds, and good fries. also, great price at only $4 for the regular one. the only bad thing is they don't layer the curds but it's not hard to mix it all together since the container is squat enough.

                        i also tried the saag paneer poutine at burger bar on augusta and that was obviously pretty different, but tasty as well. the portion is huge so it's enough for a meal.

                        1. re: helenhelen

                          Hurrah!

                          1. re: mikefly

                            what the heck do they put in their veg gravy that makes it so flavourful??

                            1. re: helenhelen

                              I would guess salt.

                              1. re: helenhelen

                                Torula yeast, possibly.

                      2. re: mikefly

                        Where is this place? I just tried googling and got some messages that a place with a name like this in Parkdale was closed?

                        1. re: Ediblethoughts

                          Stampede closed like six months ago. Electric mud now occupies their old spot. Rip to the best poutine in yoronto

                          1. re: disgusti

                            Thanks--I actually noticed much later that I was responding to a very old post !

                            1. re: disgusti

                              yes, very sad it's gone. there is now no stellar veg poutine in the city that i know of (adequate, but not stellar).

                              wow, i can't believe this thread is now 5 years old! i feel old...

                      3. UPDATE:

                        got a chance to try the veg version from poutini's last night and was disappointed. the fries were okay (though one too many bits of too crispy/dried out fries), but the gravy was very bland and lacking in flavour. it was a good consistency though so they just need to keep working on making the gravy much more flavourful (i heard they are still trying to perfect the gravy). the cheese curds were decent - squeaky, but almost too firm (it was almost like eating uncooked halloumi) and did not melt pretty much at all. i like when the cheese still holds some of its shape but is somewhat melted and soft. they skimped too much on the gravy and importantly, did not layer.

                        seems like some of these issues are easy to fix: layer the curds and gravy throughout the poutine, don't skimp on the gravy, and make sure the gravy is plentiful and hot enough to actually start melting the curds a bit. if they are indeed looking to improve the gravy, investigate how to make it more flavourful cuz it's really bland right now. oh, and one last thing: i found something a bit too salty in there.. not sure if it was the gravy or seasoning (if any) on the fries..

                        i liked that the service was friendly, and they they used biodegradable cutlery and containers.

                        my fave veg poutine so far (still) is utopia's.. a lot of it has to do with the very tasty gravy. i had more of this the other day too (2 poutines in one week? i know, gross..) and enjoyed it. only problems: they really need to layer! you run out of cheese and gravy. they also need to add more gravy and cheese (major skimpage on the cheese). the curds don't squeak at all but i can live with that since they are at least curds. next time, i am gonna ask if they can put more curds and gravy.. since it's just $4.95 for the whole mess, i'd be happy to pay a bit extra (seeing as both poutini's and smoke's charge several dollars more for their weaker stuff).

                        p.s. have heard that there is a place on bloor called "disgraceland" that has vegan poutine that uses tofu instead of cheese (as much as i like tofu, this sounds bad to me).. however, apparently, you can ask for real cheese. the gladstone apparently also has veg poutine.

                        my next stops: stampede, the gladstone, disgraceland.

                        any others?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: helenhelen

                          here's a picture of a good poutine from rapido in montreal:

                          http://photos-e.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-...

                        2. ANOTHER UPDATE!

                          Had poutine from Lakeview Lunch (Dundas and Ossington) last night. The waiter told me the gravy is a mushroom gravy so I dug in! It was pretty good. Gravy was good but a bit too salty for my taste (and was definitely a gravy rather than anything like real poutine sauce.. but honestly, I am not too picky about this as long as it's flavourful!). Cheese curds were decent, though they did not squeak and they skimped on these. Fries were pretty good. It was served in a wide bowl (or soup dish type of thing?) so everything was mixed pretty well.

                          I'd definitely eat this again. I devoured the whole thing, except for one fry that fell on the table.

                          They also have a crazy poutine that is stacked with tons of other stuff which my friend tried and enjoyed. It had sweet potato fries along with regular fries, "wild mushroom saute", feta cheese, peameal bacon (i'm sure they can omit this if you ask nicely), cheese curds, "garlic onion crunch" and gravy.

                          This is the 7th veg poutine place I've tried in Toronto. I think I have 2 more to try, that I know of (Stampede and Disgraceland)..

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: helenhelen

                            The gravy at the Lakeview is NOT vegetarian!!!! I was there last night and spoke to the night manager. Blarg. I was really hoping for some 3am veggie poutine. It's unfortunate they don't offer a veggie gravy considering they otherwise seem to be pretty veggie friendly.

                            1. re: fluffysouffle

                              ack! really, what did the manager say it was made of? the waiter had told me it was mushroom...

                              1. re: helenhelen

                                He didn't say! Once he shook his head and said it's definitely not vegetarian I had no need to inquire further. Maybe it is a mushroom gravy, but has a meat base?

                            2. re: helenhelen

                              You must try Poutini's House of Poutine on Queen West...delish!

                              -----
                              Poutini
                              1112 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                            3. i am happy to report that poutini's veg poutine has much improved. the gravy is now pretty decent and the fries and cheese are perfect. they still don't layer unless you pay extra (what the hell is that?!) but the other day, i mixed it all up before i dug in and it worked out okay.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: helenhelen

                                I just tried Poutini's veg poutine for the first time on the weekend. I thought the gravy was great but fries could be more crispy.

                                -----
                                Poutini
                                1112 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                              2. You might want to try Mitzi's Sister on Queen. I haven't tried their veggie, but their other poutines are amazing.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: plasticanimal

                                  thanks! a new one to add to my list!

                                  1. re: plasticanimal

                                    I had their mushroom poutine the other day and it was terrible. The gravy was sweet! Can you believe it?

                                    Cheese was good, fries were good, but bad gravy. I should have just had one of the meat ones.

                                  2. Great info - thanks all...I have always wanted to try a good veggie poutine but didn't know where to start. Utopia will be my first destination for sure.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Sandybandy

                                      it's the gravy i like, but just to warn you: the cheese curds are not squeaky if that is very important to you

                                    2. A little different from the usual but Duggan's Brewery (75 Victoria Street, between King and Queen, one block east of Yonge) has a curry poutine that is vegetarian. I've never had 'real' poutine to compare it to but it tasted good to me.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: themself

                                        interesting.. i will have to try this

                                      2. by the way, burger bar on augusta in kensington market has a saag paneer poutine. sounds intriguing but nasty all at the same time/ my friend said it was good though.

                                        1. I'm looking for good vegetarian poutine, so I'll follow this thread. I really didn't like Utopia's at all- not enough cheese and too much gravy, and it left a funny aftertaste in my mouth. I don't consider Lick's real poutine, but I like it anyway.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: billfrist

                                            my fave so far is stampede bison grill!

                                          2. it's been a long time since i updated this! i just found out today that there is a place on augusta in kensington market that has veg poutine! it's called fresco's fish and chips. anyone try it?

                                            also, i had smoke's veg poutine again (my 3rd time having their poutine since they opened, to see if they've improved.. i've tried the regular one 2x and the one with caramlized onions one once) and it was not good. i will definitely never waste anymore tries on them again. the gravy is awful..

                                            also, had stampede's again.. still delish, but this time, i found the gravy a bit too salty

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: helenhelen

                                              Disgraceland has vegan poutine. Maybe they'll put cheese curds on (instead or in addition to the fried tofu) if you ask them.
                                              www.disgraceland.ca/

                                              1. re: helenhelen

                                                I'll probably try it pretty soon. I tried Stampede, and it was AMAZING. I find that the Smoke's at Dundas and Jarvis is better than the Queen and Bathurst one. I've never tried any other locations.

                                              2. I was at Betty's on King E with a couple of vegetarians; they split a poutine (mushroom gravy I think)....verdict was 'very good' from both of them.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: guinness_a_day

                                                  what kind of place is betty's?

                                                  i've not been sampling places as much lately and mostly just going to the standby ones that i've reported liking above (mostly stampede's in the day, and poutini's at 3am). must get back on the sampling train :)

                                                  1. re: helenhelen

                                                    Betty's is a mildly loud bar. I like it, and the servers now all seem pretty good, had an issue a year ago, but haven't had a repeat the four or five times I've been this year.

                                                  2. re: guinness_a_day

                                                    While I frequent Betty's regularly for many many years now.. I wouldn't say there poutine is good. Its edible.. but not 'good'. There fries are tasty as a side to a burger.. but they are like McCain shoestring fries (think McDonald's) .. the same type of poutine you can make at home. Though, after a few to many beers I can see it being pretty darn tasty :)

                                                    1. re: Kassi22

                                                      damn, that is disappointing! i hate when people use frozen fries. clinton's has veg poutine but when i tried it (way back when), the fries were of the forzen variety! no no nooo!

                                                  3. I know this doesn't have the same trendy feel as most of these places, but Harvey's poutine is made with vegetarian gravy and it is quite delicious. I go to Ryerson so I make a frequent trip to Hooker Harvey's for delicious poutine all too often.

                                                    1. i haven't updated this in a long time. i recently tried the poutine from fresco's fish & chips in kensington market. they have a mushroom gravy option. it was sort of alright, but they do not layer, and the gravy was kind of weird with black beans in it, so it was pretty thick.. not sure why they do that, but i didn't like the texture of it. overall, it was okay but if i am craving a poutine, i am not going to go here.

                                                      i don't think i ever mentioned that i also tried the saag paneer poutine from waterfalls in kensington market a few years ago. it was tasty but nothing like poutine, of course.. it has paneer instead of curds, and saag (spiced spinach stew) instead of gravy.

                                                      my fave is still stampede bison grill, though i do find that they often make the gravy too salty...

                                                      places i still have yet to try:

                                                      mitzi's sister
                                                      duggan's brewery
                                                      disgraceland
                                                      betty's (doesn't sound appealing though cuz of the frozen fries so i will probably never try it)
                                                      harvey's
                                                      lady marmalade (for breakfast poutine)
                                                      sadie's diner
                                                      the hogtown vegan (though daiya vegan cheese doesn't appeal to me since i am not vegan, so i am unlikely to order this unless a friend orders it and i can steal some off of them)'

                                                      oh, and i made my own homemade poutine recently. i was in prince edward county recently and picked up a bag of fresh garlic (yes, garlic!) cheese curds from the black river cheese shop. i wasn't able to use it straight away and was worried the curds might lose their squeak, but even after 2 or 3 days when i finally had a chance to make the poutine, it was still squeaky! i made a tasty mushroom & onion gravy. the only drawback was oven fries (homemade from fresh cut potatoes though) which quickly got soggy with the gravy.. but i really didn't want to be deep frying stuff in my house. :)

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: helenhelen

                                                        BTW, Duggan's Brewery has been closed down for a while, unless they opened up at another location that I don't know about! There is a "Beer Academy" owned by Molson's in the old space.

                                                        1. re: helenhelen

                                                          Harveys Poutine is not vegetarian
                                                          The gravy:
                                                          wheat flour, hydrolyzed plant protein, modified corn starch, vegetable oil shortening (contains palm oil), potato starch, yeast extract, caramel colour, onion powder, spice, beef extract, flavour.
                                                          http://theorem.ca/~jaspring/allergies...

                                                        2. Just had Utopia's version just before reading this post.
                                                          It's one of the better versions out there.

                                                          1. it's been a really long time since i added anymore reviews to this, but i have a new one:

                                                            tried the mushroom poutine at the ballroom (that bowling place at richmond and john) and it was pretty disgusting. the gravy was reeeeeally bland and we actually had to add salt to it. even after adding a bit of salt, i found it needed more salt. it tasted like almost nothing. the cheese melted into the gravy (obviously not proper curds).

                                                            still mourning the loss of stampede bison grill.. :(

                                                            anyone know of any new veg poutine spots since this thread was last added to?

                                                            come and get it on spadina apparently has veg poutine. must try..

                                                            1. I like Cardinal Rule's vegetarian poutine. Squeaky white cheddar curds. Gravy was a bit on the salty and thick side, but its a great place for veg and meat eaters alike.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: happycamper

                                                                i have had brunch there long, long ago, but will have to try their poutine sometime!

                                                              2. Just tried No Bull Burgers (on Kingston rd., but there is also a Cabbagetown location) and was pretty satisfied. Crispy fries, firm curds (though not that squeaky and could have used some more curds), and a tasty "beefy" gravy. The price was right at $6, and it's your standard size order (substantial).

                                                                The gravy was also mixed in throughout the fries well, and I think an attempt was made to do so with some of the curds (but they needed more).

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: helenhelen

                                                                  have tried these again 2 more times. the 2nd time was pretty bad.. they didn't warm up the gravy enough (i guess they make a batch and keep it in the fridge then??) so it was chunky and kinda gross, as well as coldish in parts. not okay at all. i should have returned it but i had already left the shop (took it to go). the 3rd time, the gravy was heated through okay but everything was just way too salty.

                                                                2. tried the poutine with veg gravy at the new incarnation of come and get it today. the fries were alright (decent, though i don't love that kind of skinny & browned fries.. i like 'em paler!), and they layered in a lot of curds (white and yellow/orange.. the latter of which i assume may be cheddar?) which were not squeaky and did a bit of melting. the gravy was very tasteless and bland. all i could taste was the fried potato, no gravy flavour.