Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Crespella Café

This review just in from my sis who lives in Ithaca, New York.
This newest entry to the Ithaca restaurant scene advertises itself as "Breakfast, lunch, and more." My co-poutiner, Kim Szpiro (another Canadian, originally from BC), was clever enough to notice that the "and more" included something called "Canadian Chips - hand cut French fries topped with brown gravy and cheese." Does that sound familiar? Yes, indeed, we thought we'd tracked down Ithaca poutine. So, after a quick trip to the gym for a spin class, to work off the anticipated calorie intake, we set off for lunch... or did we set off for "and more"?

The restaurant was quite nice, but empty... never a good sign in downtown Ithaca at lunchtime. The menu was, to put it mildly, startling! Neither of us had ever seen so much high-calorie, high-fat food on one menu. Triple BLTS with cheese, potato soup with bacon, cheese and sour cream... and ... Canadian chips...

We decided to share an order - at $6, we expected a hefty serving and felt that sharing was appropriate. What came to the table LOOKED LIKE poutine... it had lovely hand cut fries with the skin still on (we gave it a curd up for that), and a beefy gravy (Kim gave it a curd up for saltiness, I gave it a curd down for the same reason). The gravy was one step beyond gravy, though - it was gloppy gravy, if you know what I mean. To top off the dish - no curds, just mozzarella cheese. We know that true curds are hard to find here, but the cheese was a big curd down from both of us.

Our final assessment was 1.5 curds... we gave them something for trying, but hope they take it off the menu. Kim said "Why are they blaming a whole nation for that?"

While we were sitting in the silent restaurant, Kim googled Poutine Ithaca and found another restaurant around the corner that actually offers "real" poutine (plain and bacon). We are skeptical, since the description says "Fries, gravy, and cheddar cheese." But, we are going to give it a try. We will report back soon!

Your Ithaca Poutiners,
Marcia and Kim

Crespella Café, 113 S Cayuga St., Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-379-9825

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Top Chef Canada

It looks like the competition will get sticky this Monday, May 16, when the Top Chefs compete over making the best poutine. Food Network Canada, 9 p.m. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Frankie's Awesome Fries

We were driving around in Ottawa looking for a quick lunch and at the corner of Blair and Ogilvie we spotted Frankie's Awesome Fries chip truck...

...so we had to give it a try.

We ordered a poutine. I mean, what else were we gonna order?

I was happy to see they were using local St. Albert curds. I love 'em!

The owners of Frankie's, Marjorie and Bahjat sure know their potatoes. They used to have a business selling them across Eastern Ontario. Now they're concentrating on their chip truck.

And man, was it good! The curds were fresh, the fries still had their skin on and the gravy was hot and not too salty (always a plus!).

Marjorie told me their gravy was from scratch and you could tell. Yummy!

I especially loved it because I enjoyed it with a Dr. Pepper, usually difficult to find at a chip stand in Eastern Ontario. I considered this almost a cross-cultural food day.

All in all, Richard gave it a 4.5 out of 5 curds. I was tending towards a perfect score of 5. I mean, where can you get a fabulous poutine, fresh as anything and have it with a Dr. Pepper? As advertised, Frankie's fries really are "awesome."

Frankie's Awesome Fries, 2010 Ogilvie Road, Ottawa, ON K1J 8X3
Phone: 613-741-1011

Friday, May 6, 2011

S & G Fries

This review comes to us courtesty of the folks at the blog: If Music Be the Food of Love Play On, which reflects on art and life in the Ottawa area and beyond. To check it out click here.

You guessed it. This is the regular-sized poutine from S & G Fries, located at 1845 Carling Avenue, right next to both the Beer Store and the Produce Depot. They claim to make the Best Poutine in Ottawa and have many testimonials around the place to substantiate this declaration.

We ended up here because this afternoon was 'get organized for the prom day' and my son had a knowledgeable friend along for consultation. The payoff to her was lunch at S & G Fries. She accepted in a heartbeat. MP claims to be pure French Canadian stock and can speak with a voice of authority on poutine, as it is the national dish of Quebec.

MP gave the poutine at S & G Fries high marks. "The fries were cooked properly." No elaboration on what that meant. I took her at her word. She was also pleased when she saw the sign for St. Albert's cheese curds. Being within 10 minutes of the St. Albert Co-op Cheese Factory, MP says she often enjoys the curds so fresh that they are extra squeaky! As early as the end of the 19th century, master cheesemakers in a charming Eastern Ontario village were already manufacturing a highly renowned Cheddar: the St-Albert. Not all native Quebecers share the praise that MP has put on the standard of curd expected in her perfect poutine but suffice it to say, I really wouldn't know any better. St. Albert is a small town close to the Quebec border, but still in Ontario, so perhaps that is where the judgment lies.

When we asked MP for her final verdict, she said she thought the outstanding poutine actually came second to the poutine she loves and has had frequently at the Blooming Onion, once situated in the Byward Market, but now relocated to a spot near Cyrville Road & Maxime St. She is supported in this pronouncement by XPress' annual reader's poll in the past.

Although I don't have the pedigree that MP carries to best judge the perfect poutine, my tastebuds alone tell me that a trip to S & G Fries for any kind of chip craving, will undoubtedly prove to be a positive experience. In the language of the Poutine Chronicles, this place is at least 4.5 curds out of 5.

Is S & G Fries the best poutine in Ottawa?

S & G Fries, 1845 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario
Phone: 613-729-2129

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Your Independent Grocer

This in from my friend Jen. Thanks for your reporting Jen!!
The grocery store "Your Independent Grocer" in Prescott, Ontario is now selling poutine in the deli section. It was reasonably priced and looked good. There was a generous quantity of curds and the sauce was nice. The fries however were not made fresh on the spot so there was nothing more than the sauce to warm up or melt the curds. Overall the taste was good but would have been much better with fresh, hot fries. I think timing is the key to success here. The best is to drop by as the fries come out of the fryer or ask for fresh fries.
Overall it rates a 2.5 out of 5 curds.