A couple of weekends ago I spent an afternoon trotting around beatific Quebec City, the port area, the Old City, the Museum of Civilization and the riverside food market. I walked and I kept walking, past the funicular, the street musicians, the ice-cream lickers and the tourist shops. Smiles all around. And then I got hungry, but hungry for something hearty. A baguette sandwich or paltry pastry just wouldn’t do. I had my eyes on the prize.
After wandering around in circles (my go-to mode) for another hour, I decided to take a stool at the charming 30-year old greasy spoon in Lower Town just down the block from my wonderful hotel. Buffet de L’Antiquaire was its name, and a poutine and Coke was my game. Though they do serve big plates of hearty Quebecois faves like beans and cretons for breakfast, or pea soup, cheeseburgers and hot chicken plates for midday mains, I was there for poutine because even though Toronto has at long last caught on to a good thing – I’ve had a short rib version at Gilead Café and a breakfast version at Harbord Room – and now there are dedicated shops dishing out almost nothing but -- such as Smoke’s Poutinerie and now Poutini’s House of Poutine, I wanted an authentic Quebec version. Anyway, the fry cooks at Buffet de L'Antiquaire in the open kitchen with their paper hats looked like the real deal. (Always trust a fry cook in a paper hat.)
My hand-cut potatoes were tossed into amber-coloured deep fat and cooked to a golden finish. The chicken gravy was like mother’s milk, and the fresh, plentiful cheese curds were as squeaky as a mouse convention.
Best friggin’ poutine, ever.