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Sep 12, 2009 02:41 PM

Poutine near NDG?

Hiyall -- I have heard of this Poutine and am determined not to be a know-nothing snob: I Will Try It. But I can't lie: it sounds ghastly. Still, it also sounds 'local' - so please, someone send me to a good local locale for it?! We are near Monkland and the Decarie. There was mention of "vegetarian poutine" which even in my know-nothing state I can determine is something of an oxymoron. Still, one of us is vegetarian and they would appreciate the option if it isn't self-defeating, as well.

Thanks all.

p.s. I noticed a barbeque restaurant on Sherbrook west of the Decarie that looked awfully good with it listed on the menu. I can't remember the name, however, so can't search on the board. Can anyone say whether this might be a good choice? TIA.

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  1. Might the restaurant be Bofinger? If they have poutine, I haven't tried it, so I couldn't say if it's any good, although their fries are okay. Your best bet for poutine, IMHO, is La Banquise - it's east (Rachel near Parc Lafontaine) but open 24/7, and they have many varieties you can try. Or you can splurge and try the foie gras version at Au Pied de Cochon...

    2 Replies
    1. re: cherylmtl

      Thank you! Not sure whether "Bofinger" is correct. Every single thing is so new that it just shoves the latest new thing right out of the noggin: I just can't remember.

      I appreciate the heade-up about Banquise.

      I should also have asked please for explicit directions. So, for example, "Rachel near Parc Lafontaine" sort of confuses me, sadly. It's hard to bootstrap your way into understanding in a new city; baby-directions would really help! Not a la mapquest, just in a general overall sense, say, in relation to, oh -- Marché Jean Talon, or, say, Downtown, or NDG, the "mountain" (is that what it's called?) ... etc.

      Many, many thanks!!

      1. re: aliris

        Sorry, didn't realise you were new to Montreal. How are you getting around? By car or metro or bike? Basically, Rachel is an east-west street, a few blocks north of Sherbrooke, it starts east of downtown and the mountain, and the restaurant is quite a ways east on it, right by Parc Lafontaine (another big park in Montreal). La Banquise itself is probably about 15-20 minutes east by car from Monkland/Decarie. Not sure how to get there by bus or metro, though, but I'm sure others can chime in on that. By car, you're probably best off heading east on Sherbrooke to St. Denis, then north until you hit Rachel, then east for about 8 blocks. There are faster routes, but this is pretty straightforward, on major streets.
        Can someone figure out how to do one of those map thingies on here and add it?

    2. In NDG, there's a Frits Alors which is not a bad bet. I have not had the Bofingers poutine, but based on the fries I've seen them make, I would say it's a strong option.

      Here's a map of poutines in Montreal -- I add new ones as they come to my attention, althought it's true i have not added Bofingers yet, nor do I add all of the chains which have them.

      2 Replies
      1. re: poutineguy

        Where's the Frite Alors in NDG - is it new? Haven't noticed it around and don't see it on their site.

        I second the fries at Bofingers but haven't tasted their poutine either.

        1. re: kpzoo

          ACK! I'm wrong. There is no Frits Alors in NDG. I was going off of a colleague who has told me of his and his 3-year-old's Sunday trips to Frits Alors, in the same breath as telling me about their Sunday morning walks of Monkland. I assumed there was one there. It must be they are driving out of the area.

          NDG is strangely devoid of poutine options.

      2. OK all -- you're right, it is Bofinger's that I was thinking of. And we did walk there tonight and they do have Poutine. We have a car and are living near Monkland Village I think it's called, near the Villa Maria metro stop. So that stretch of Sherbrook is in walking distance for us and good for working off the calories of the poutine. There are middling-aged puppies trailing us.

        With not a whit for comparison, I can tell you the Bofinger's poutine seemed pretty all right. Not disgusting as I feared, that's for sure. Basically, it seems to me to be as good as the gravy -- well, and fries and cheese curds too of course. Which all is to say that the whole schmear seemed to me to be as good as its components and not necessarily to meld together into some greater Other. It was, as advertised, fries with gravy on them and cheese curds melting throughout the mush.

        Originally I had reacted badly ("Eeew") to the sounds of the thing as described by a native son. I have felt so guilty about my automatic reaction ever since -- the least I could do was try it before judging! And having done so, it seems to me that I was wrong: it's not gross. But personally, it's also not great either. If I'm to pack away a thousand calories at a sitting, I think that sitting should consist of butter and sugar; that happens to my particular leaning.

        We also ate barbecued chicken, turkey and pulled pork, with ceasar salad and multiple sides of requisite mac&cheese. The barbecued stuff all tasted more-or-less the same, different sauces notwithstanding. The turkey was stringier and drier than the rest. The chicken was tasty and white and also a little dry, but less so than the turkey. The pork isn't really my thing. I tasted it and it seemed so-so to me mostly because of my own quirks. DH says it all basically tasted the same to him so my ranking didn't make sense to him. A piece of "Texas toast" (aka garlic bread) accompanied one of the dishes.

        It was all pretty OK, but one of those unrelentingly fat-driven meals that leaves you feeling as if you need a shower after eating. A shower and coma. I'm glad we went because it looked attractive and fun and was certainly busy. And it served the intriguing Poutine. But I don't need to return.

        There were lots of kids at the joint and it was all pretty friendly, if understaffed. I stood in line nearly a hlaf hour just to place our order. A sit-down restaurant would have been faster I suspect. Not that this wasn't "sit-down"; guess I mean "waited-tables".

        So, what's the convention for tipping when there's no table service and you've just stood in line for that aforementioned half hour? When I finally get to place the order I'm requested to addend the bill automatically with 15%. Does this seem OK to you-all? I have no idea of the "local customs" here. I have an idea of what I think of this in my own country, south 100km or so. But I'm curious about prevailing customs and opinions here: (i) do you think tipping at a take-out /sit-down joint is reasonable? (ii) if so, how much would you tip?

        Other reporting on food. The Macaroni and cheese tasted as if it might actually have been homemade -- that is, the pasta was al dente, and the sauce was a little watery, as if it weren't composed chiefly of cornstarch. It was tasty, but sadly despite its possibly homemade origins, not really The Best. Both pups finished their sides, but it's not as if it was gobbled down with abandon.

        The ceasar salad was a real disappointment. There is a grill place quite like this where I come from that has ceasar salads I was unable to live without during one pregnancy. So I have fond memories of this sort of dish in this sort of place, but it was quite sub-par. Mostly, there just wasn't much taste to the salad. I can't really quite figure out why not, the lettuce looked fresh and really what else is there? But it was. Crisp and dull.

        I think that's it. The staff were too few in number but very cheery despite a descending hoard on Saturday night. The bathroom was large and a little dirty but who has time to attend to it on such a busy evening?

        I think the tone of my review suggests negative feelings toward the place, but I don't feel that way overall. It is a fine joint for eating large quantities of sauced, shredded meat. I don't think it's an overwhlemingly amazing find but I don't wish we'd never gone there.

        And I'm still up for trying another Poutine that's known to be better. Though I wouldn't likely order in any other than test-curiosity circumstances!

        13 Replies
        1. re: aliris

          Bofinger used to be good when it first opened, now it's not quite as consistent (if you search this board, there are a few threads about it). And it can be very busy at certain times of day. But it's pretty much the best we have for BBQ (which isn't saying much). I'm curious as to how their poutine compares to other places', as I've never tried it there. The description of poutine does sound gross, but a well-made poutine is a thing of beauty IMHO, in spite of the caloric whallop it carries...

          1. re: aliris

            I tip 0% for counter service, always. I don't even throw coins into a jar. There is a big difference between service which coordinates an entire meal and its delivery to a table, and service which types an order into a register.

            Drive across town to Maam Bolduc on Marie Anne and Papineau for poutine. It will be about $10, but you will not be disappointed. If you want a cheaper alterative: Patiti Patata on St. Laurent and Rachel, will give you a (slightly smaller) delicious poutine -- in a glass plate and seated at a table in great little diner -- for less than $5 dollars cash money.

            1. re: poutineguy

              I love Patati Patata's fries, but I just can't get excited over their poutine. I still think, with their many varieties, La Banquise is a better option for anyone looking for a more typical style of poutine.

              1. re: cherylmtl

                I had Patati's once during a St Laurent street fair. My kids, who love poutine, bailed half way through because they said the gravy tasted like wine (don't call the cops, they've never tasted wine, just smelled it). There was something fermented in the gravy that made it taste off, deliberate or not I don't know. I wouldn't order it again.
                Frite Alors is a very tasty basic poutine and there are quite a few locations.

                1. re: everyonelovessushi

                  Indeed, Patiti Patata ads wine to their sauce. It's totally deliberate. Sounds like they may have added too much to the batch you ate -- but I think it's a good thing; done right, it adds a bit of depth to something which can be a pretty two dimensional.

                  1. re: poutineguy

                    You can't judge Bofinger without trying their ribs, pork or beef. That's like going to Cosmos without eating their eggs!

                    1. re: williej

                      Pork ribs: generally too fatty and nowhere near falling off the bone.
                      Beef ribs: tough.
                      Pulled pork: OK.
                      Mac and cheese: the one time I had it I'd have sworn it was KD.
                      Fries: good.
                      Burgers: meh.
                      Chili: surprisingly good.

                      The "Oh, that's supposed to be cold and pink because it's *smoked*" routine: unacceptable, especially for burgers and/or chicken.

                      The poutine is actually one of the best things at Bofinger, IMHO.

                      1. re: Mr F

                        Agreed about the ribs, so tough I could barely chew them off, some of the worst I've had.

                        I enjoyed the pulled pork and fries are good =)

                2. re: cherylmtl

                  I tried Patati Patata's poutine, and yeah there's nothing to write home about there, but better than the regular poutine crap-joints you find everywhere.

                  The best poutine is still in Laval.

                3. re: poutineguy

                  I disagree with the notion that counter service isn't worth a tip, period.

                  Good attitude and efficient, competent work matter in even the most seemingly simple setup -- surely you must have had a bad fast-food experience that proves it. So it's not rocket surgery; it still takes some effort to keep everything working smoothly in a short-order setting. I choose to reward that.

                  However, if I'd have bothered to wait the full 30 minutes in a line like that (the OP's Bofinger experience) I probably would have left less than usual, if anything, and certainly not 15%.

                  15% is pretty standard in sit-down places, but seems an optimistic "suggestion" for counter service.

                4. re: aliris

                  I find Bofinger a good fast, fun option when we're looking for a no-frills, kid-friendly resto in NDG, it's esp. nice in the summer when you can sit out on the picnic tables and watch the action on the street. I find the ribs totally inconsistent but the chicken is usually pretty good. A good option in NDG for similar type food is Mesquite (Decarie below NDG avenue). If you're looking for the more saucy-fall off the bone type rib, Mesquite is a better option. i have found the food there consistently good but service consistently slow so not a good choice if you've got children. I've done brunch there (long time ago) and it was very good and service was good too.

                  1. re: eetnbmary

                    Strange, I've found the pork/ribs quite consistent so far, and the chicken very dry. I guess that just means everything is inconsistent :( That Cuban is one tasty sandwich though :)

                    1. re: afoodyear

                      I've often wanted to try the cuban sandwich, but the downtown location doesnt make it. It used to be listed on the menu, when ordering it they would say that they don't have the sandwich press, and now completly removed.

                5. The poutine at Benedicts is great. They just added a few things to their menu and the poutine is one of them. I think it's because their fries are so good, homemade and the gravy is devine. I don't know why so many people like to pick on them, I think they are doing a wonderful job. Everything is always fresh and it seems to me that they make everything from scratch as well, not like some other restaurants in the area. Benedicts is perfect for you because it's in your area and they make a mean breakfast too. Don't listen to some of these other hounders, give it a try for yourself.

                  1. I've found Bofinger to be disappointing every time, I always felt completely dehydrated after eating there. I used to live across the street so it was the closest, quickest option. Glad I don't live there anymore and in a neighbourhood with probably the best poutine in Montreal at Paul Patate on Charlevoix down the street from the Charlevoix Metro station. Not only is their poutine great but the make their own spruce beer and it's fantastic. I've also found La Banquise to be so-so, not the best in town by a long shot but good and as kind of a poutine purist I find all those different toppings to be superfluous and disgusting. For the love of god, PLEASE don't judge poutine by Bofinger!