DEVOUR & CONQUER

Exploring, eating and writing about good food on Canada's west coast

header photo

McDonalds Poutine review

January 26, 2014

I am very Canadian in my ever-dedicated love for poutine, that perfect combination of fries, cheese and gravy. I've tried different versions all across Canada, everything from the traditional Quebec and strange regional versions like a West Coast poutine topped with seafood and chowder gravy.

I had to laugh when I heard that McDonalds was finally launching a McPoutine for the masses (it has been on the Quebec menu for 10 years already). I knew that sooner or later my curiosity would make me cave and try it out. I don't eat McDonalds often, but now and again when laziness overtakes us, my husband and I will indulge in a drive-thru ready dinner and this Saturday night was just such an evening.

As Jay drove us into town toward our local seaside McDonalds, I started thinking of how to judge this newcomer to the scene, and thought back to my own personal best and worst poutine experiences, both equally memorable.

My Best Poutine - Bella Vista Tavern, Ottawa

A strange hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a strip mall near Ridgemont High School, when I was 14 years old we used to walk over to Bella Vista at lunch and order poutine from their take-out counter. I have vivid memories of slipping along with shivering friends over the slush-covered Ottawa sidewalks in the middle of winter, freezing fingers soon to be warmed by steaming cardboard boxes of heaven.

Oh... that perfect poutine... The gravy was made from the juices and drippings of their in-house peppercorn roast beef, and was dark brown, spicy and flecked with shards of beef. The fries were rustic, skin-on, thick-cut russet potatoes, crispy and salty, covered in perfectly melted mozzarella cheese, pulling away from the fork in luscious white strands. I will never forget those so very Canadian poutine moments, pure joy. I just checked and surprisingly Bella Vista still remains standing in that Ottawa strip mall and they do still have poutine on the menu, but I have no idea if that perfect poutine remains the same after all these years.

My Worst Poutine - Snack Shack, Candle Lake, Saskatchewan

There's a small 'party lake' in Saskatchewan where college kids used go to play beach volleyball, camp out and get drunk (they might still). One summer a friend and I drove up for the huge summer volleyball tournament weekend to waitress in the bar. We made a killing in tips, but had to suffer through the 'local cuisine' which consisted of three places to eat - the bar for deep-fried bar food, a strange tea and sandwich shop filled with creepy Grandma-esque decor, or as a last resort - the dilapidated Snack Shack.

It was here that I made the mistake of ordering what would turn out to be the worst poutine I have ever eaten. A grease-soaked paper container filled with freezer burnt, pale beige fries that managed to be both dry and limp, with some strange plastic cheese that didn't melt but stayed gummy-bear chewy. Not to mention the "Grey"-vy, a gelatinous grey goo that tasted like glue. That poutine with haunt our dreams for life.

McDonald's McPoutine Review

Now having considered my personal best and worst poutines, it's time to get back to the poutine of the day, McDonalds. Which, by the way, is only $1.50 to upgrade from regular fries with a combo, or $3.99 for a full sized. Images here are of the size included with a meal combo.

The Box

Not bad at all. I have a pet peeve about overflowing flimsy cardboard containers of poutine that spill fries and gravy everywhere. McDonalds' box is deep enough to fit a good-sized portion of poutine and has a lid that stays firmly closed or open.

First Impressions

Hilarious - the classic McDonalds bait and switch at work, considering what they claim it's going to look like. Pile of fries shoved in, scoop of cheese and scoop of gravy tossed against one side of the box. Advertising fail of shameful proportions, Ronald.

Yeah... right... it will totally look like this when you order. Or not.

Taste & Texture

After redistributing the gravy and cheese throughout the fries, I suddenly realized I was in a race against time with the McPoutine, and the clock had already starting ticking. As soon as they were touched by gravy, the trademark McFries went instantly limp and flaccid. They still tasted fine, but as I suspected, the thin, spindly McDonalds fries don't have the strength to hold up the cheese and gravy and had to be scooped up with the fork.

Gravy was ok. Kind of bland, a little flour-y tasting to me, not as thick as advertised. Much improved with the addition of an entire packet of McPepper. Cheese curds were surprisingly good, nice melt and stringy-ness. Are apparently authentic cheese curds from Saputo, and taste well... good.

Temperature

As I mentioned, eating McDonalds poutine is a race against both time and temperature as soon as the box hits the bottom of the iconic McBag and heads across the counter or through the window to you. The heat from the hot gravy is needed to melt the solid cheese curds, but instantly wilts the fries, and if you leave the lid on, the whole thing steams, then solidifies into a solid block. You must be ready to dive straight in with your fork immediately, it is the only way to eat this poutine.

I did try microwaving the cold left-overs and the cheese did re-melt sufficiently. It wasn't pretty to look at, but with eyes firmly shut, it was still a palatable wodge of potato, gravy and cheese.

Will I eat McPoutine Again?

Yes - I can't deny that I think there's a place for McDonalds poutine in my future. It's not an authentic Canadian classic by any standards, but certainly not the worst of the fast-food poutine attempts out there and does scratch the fries/gravy/cheese craving a little. After volleyball some night when I don't feel like cooking... I can see McReturning for another go.

Now You...

I've bared my poutine soul, now I'm curious. Do you have a best or worst poutine eating story? Post it in the comments below. Have you tried McDonalds poutine? Speak your mind - Canadian McProud or Canadian McShame?

 

Go Back

thanks for your review- will make sure to never go to Mc again. by the way, new York fries at Kildonan Place foodcourt does a mean poutine with either chicken curry or braised beef stew.

Thanks for the comment, masshealer. The more people I talk to, the more I'm realizing that poutine is a very personal thing - different people like different flavours.

Chicken curry poutine is spiking my curiousity...

comment s'appel le model qui pose pour ce magazine si beau que m

If I choose your basic package (



Comment