Poutine à la Victoria

photo: Spicy Fish poutine on the pier at Red Fish Blue Fish

credit: Rebecca Baugniet


There has long been a debate over what counts as “Canadian Cuisine”.  Very few foods have originated in Canada – most dishes have sprung from the wide range of homelands of the immigrants who make up our population: perogies, pizzas, pastas, etc.  But there is one “P” dish that is our very own:  Poutine.

While poutine remains a predominantly Quebecois dish, the influence of this tasty little heart-stopper is starting to make its way across the country.  French fries, gravy and cheese curds, combined into a hot, delicious, gooey mess is the sort of dish that is irresistible to people who have a savoury palate and a poorly-developed sense of culinary guilt.

As someone who basically subsisted solely on poutine during my university years in Montreal, it has been great to see an influx of options in the past couple of years in Victoria.  Not only can the discerning poutine aficionado find classic versions of the dish around town, but new, deluxe versions of poutine are springing up all the time.  Here are a few of the best options in the city:

Classic Poutine

La Belle Patate

1215 Esquimalt Road

This is the real deal.  Run by a former Montrealer, poutine at this tiny burger & fries joint in Esquimalt is exactly the kind that Quebecois are used to: thick-cut fries, salty cheese curds and a viscous, succulent gravy. Heaping portions and the option of adding smoked meat or chicken make for a full meal’s worth.  For those with a healthy – well, “big” – appetite, a standard poutine goes great with one of their smoked meat sandwiches.

Fancy Poutine

Heron Rock Bistro

#4-435 Simcoe Street

Located around the corner from the James Bay Thrifty Foods, Heron Rock Bistro offers a variety of terrific poutines with sumptuous, fresh ingredients.  On top of offering a standard poutine option, Heron Rock also suggests a selection of meats to enhance the classic Quebecois experience: you can get your poutine with slow braised barbeque pork, Certified Angus Beef or with duck confit.  The duck option is also served with thinly sliced green onions, giving it a subtle, Southeast Asian flavouring.

Fish Poutine

Red Fish Blue Fish

1006 Wharf St. (on the pier)

This might not be what the British have in mind, but this very West Coast spicy fish poutine brings the term “fish and chips” to a whole new level. A scrumptious blend of tuna, halibut, cod and pacific salmon (only Oceanwise fish is used) sits on the crispy black pepper dusted fries, is covered with a tangy chipotle mayo sauce and then topped with chopped green onions.  Don’t worry – you won’t miss the cheese curds. Available in half orders (see photo above – plenty for one hungry person) or full orders for sharing.

Pub Poutine

Garrick’s Head Pub

1140 Government Street

Attached to the Bedford Regency and nestled in the east side of Bastion Square, the Garrick’s Head has one of the most appetizing poutines in the city.  As an old school watering hole, the food here can often be overlooked and this delicious poutine nearly slips in under the radar – but it shouldn’t!  At the Garrick’s, they don’t skimp on the cheese curds and those crispy fries, slathered with a thick, rich and dark beef gravy, make for a mouthwatering option.  Have an order with a tasty pint of a local amber ale and then the beer and poutine each magically make the other taste better; it’s the perfect storm.

Veggie Poutine

Cabin 12

607 Pandora Avenue

Vegetarian but still get that poutine craving once in a while?  Not to fret – Cabin 12 is here to satisfy your hunger.  Their “Green Poutine” is a vegetarian option, serving up French fries parboiled then deep-fried in vegetable oil for some crispy goodness.  Layered on top are sautéed mushrooms, soy cheese curds and an appetizing veggie gravy.  Cabin 12 is only open for breakfast and lunch, so this is for those who need their poutine fix early in the day.


New York Fries (Hillside Mall, Mayfair Mall, Bay Centre) also provides a surprisingly gratifying option.  And while poutine might not be tops on the list of most dieticians, if you’re really in the mood for some greasy deliciousness, you can always listen to the words of Oscar Wilde: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

To read our news clip on the recent “poutine-off” held on the Empress lawn, click here and scroll to the very bottom of the page.

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