This is a quick update about poutine. Poutine? Poutine! It’s Canadian! Poutine! Why would you even do that? Poutine! Because it’s fucking delicious. Poutine! Get with the programme.
Growing up in the North of England, I’m no stranger to cheesy chips, or chips and gravy. But it took Quebec to really elevate this to something special. Oh, don’t worry – I’m not getting too misty-eyed. It’s still a big bucket full of grease, starch, and gravy (which is, let’s be honest, grease and starch suspended in water), but it’s definitely one of the tastier junk foods, and it’s only just breaking into the UK market.
Poutine is chips, gravy, and cheese curds. Think a more solid cottage cheese, though ideally we’re looking for something that tastes and squeaks like the awkward offspring of feta and halloumi.
Hot Mess Poutine is part of Street Food Union, a popup food doohicky in Soho. It’s a bit like if Cambridge’s Foodpark had rocked up outside a pretty good sextoys and underwear shop, and invested in some awnings and seating.
It’s a really simple idea, so apart from the fact that they’re doing it well, there isn’t much to say. The cheese curds are homemade, the gravy is super thick and just slightly sweet, and the chips are double fried for that Northern-style crispy/soggy vibe that I just can’t resist. Right now, they make the gravy with veal stock, so veggies beware, but mushroom is coming soon.
What makes it is the “squeaky” cheese thing. It’s got that texture on the teeth like halloumi, but it doesn’t melt exactly. It kind of partially oozes over the fries. This is excellent comfort food, and the kind of fortifying Friday lunch you should probably have if you’ve timetabled some serious after work drinking.
Or a nap.
If you happen to be in the area, check it out. I’ve not eaten much poutine (just once or twice in Canada), so I’m not sure how this stacks up, but it is bloody tasty. Maybe get a medium sized tub though. Or a really big coffee.
(passing thought: curry sauce and paneer)