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veg poutine in toronto

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: 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