I spent my teen years in Manchester & Lancashire so have clear & rather fond memories of my friends and I eating ridiculously carb filled “gravy chip butties” in our school dining hall. My summer holidays often meant a trip to Ballybunion in Co.Kerry, Ireland where cousins & I would end up grabbing a cheesy chips at the end of the night to feed our excess alcohol consumption.. not forgetting the one time when a cousin woke up the next morning realising she’d decided her handbag was a suitable receptacle for her leftover ‘Irish poutine’. Let’s say it wasn’t her best idea!
Anyway, since those teen years my only encounters with anything close to a ‘poutine’ were because of Félix. When we were based in China, we really didn’t have that much access to cheese, nevermind poutine. So when we were going to be in Hong Kong for a few days I did some research. We ended up going to ‘New York Fries’ for my first poutine. Although I remember him saying it wasn’t the best, they did have real cheese curds so he still left feeling rather happy about the experience. After that, each time we’d fly back to visit the family in Montreal from London or wherever, he’d make a point of dragging me with him to a local poutine place. Literally straight after we’d drop off our bags, and once at 10am, which I wasn’t too impressed with.
So now that I’ve been here over a year, I’ve had the chance to sample several poutines with visiting tourist friends or because we were simply feeling lazy & craving junk food. In Hochelaga, our go-to place is La Belle Place on Rue Ontario. The more known & popular places are fine in Montréal but the best non-traditional ones we’ve had so far were actually from another Hochelaga poutinerie, Poutine Centrale (they had another location near Jean Talon that recently closed).
Outside of Montréal however, we have a clear favourite.. but is it the best poutine in Québec?!!
It’s obviously an impossible one to answer & it’s hard when there are so many ‘special’ options available from bacon and foie gras to lobster. Sticking to the classic topping of gravy & cheese curds, Henri in Joliette is our winner. There is obviously an attachment that we have with the place as it’s walking distance from Felix’s family home (plus he also worked there as a teen!) but I really do think the poutine at Henri is my favourite… so far. What do you guys think of it?
If you want to know more a bit more about Henri, there are several decent reviews out there (like this & this) plus it seems to be becoming a fun food stop destination for those driving into Lanaudière! It’s open 24hours, the decor & signage is rather retro (since 1957), plus they still have the original Henri food trailer in the car park. Not forgetting that you can pick up one of their infamous bright orange & white tuques (beanie hat) as a souvenir! On another note, rivière L’Assomption is literally just behind Henri & in winter you can go for a skate or walk along it when everything is frozen over. It’s quite a strange experience coming from the UK, but a cool thing to tell the folks back home if it’s not something you’ve done before.
Whether you make the trip to Joliette or not, if you’re ever looking for a new place to try poutine in the province, one of the biggest lists & maps I’ve found is here. In the mean time here are some pics from our favourite poutine place..
p.s. The North American readers amongst you may have noticed I talk about chips. Remember I’m British so ‘chips’ means ‘french fries’.. and ‘crisps’ are ‘potato chips’.
Ah the wonderful world of languages!