Poutine With Purpose

There are 7 days every year here in Calgary when you can indulge in your poutine passion guilt free! This year from April 21st through April 29th everyone is encouraged to explore their inner poutine lover and with over 60 poutines available from participating restaurants across the city there is sure to be something for everyone.

What you may wonder, makes the poutines eaten over this 7 days guilt free? Well it is officially Poutine Week where every participating poutine sold provides a meal to the amazing charity Mealshare. So its pretty easy, you eat a poutine and provide a meal for a local youth in need. Let the poutine indulging commence!

As an official “Poutine Pusher” this year I committed to sampling the poutines from a minimum of 5 participating restaurants and here are the delicious results!

My first stop was at The Guild right off of Steven Avenue mall downtown. A meat-centric restaurant with 6 poutine offerings I gathered up a small team to take with me so we could try all 6!

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Poutine week menu from The Guild

We started with the Maple Brisket poutine,

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Maple Brisket Poutine

this poutine was loaded with a sweet pull apart brisket, a ton of melty gooey cheese curds and amazing chicken gravy with a nice topping of “crunchy stuff” which is fried shallots & onion that made for the perfect textural addition. The perfect amount of sweet and savoury and loaded with meat I would say this is the perfect man poutine big and hearty!

Next up the Smoked Duck Kimchi poutine,

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Smoked Duck Kimchi

not only was this a beautiful plate to look at but the flavour was amazing. The fries were sauced enough and the cheese curds melted so perfectly that even without the traditional gravy this plate easily passes for a poutine. The maple gochujang sauce added that hit of sweet so that when you got a crunch of the spicy homemade kimchi your mouth danced with joy. This one was one of my favourites as it seemed a bit lighter than the traditional Poutine but packed full of flavour. Even the spice-phobic in our group enjoyed this one!

Onto the next offering of Chili-glazed Pork Belly poutine,

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Chili-glazed Pork Belly poutine

it was such a pleasant surprise to see all of the vegetables on this poutine. Even with all the beautiful arugula, tomatoes and radishes this easily passed for poutine smothered in an amazing chili caramel that made it sweet and savoury right down to the last plate lick. This poutine is a definite recommendation and would please anyone on the group looking for a lighter poutine option.

Going right outside the traditional poutine box, next up was the Onion Bhaji poutine,

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Onion Bhaji poutine

beautiful onion chickpea fritters adorn this flavourful vegetarian option. The coconut curry sauce was luscious and fresh and when melded with the melty cheese curds made the perfect pair. The addition of house pickled red onion made for a fantastic crunchy and flavourful textural element. This is a poutine that hits you with a kick of flavour so good that you will hardly notice that its vegetarian.

Powering through with only 2 more to go we had The Frenchie poutine,

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The Frenchie poutine

getting closer to the traditional poutine this was drenched in amazing chicken gravy and loaded with tender fall apart chicken chunks, cheese curds, house cured bacon and peas. I loved the crunch of fresh cabbage on top and the pop of peas through out provided not only texture but a bit of spring freshness. This one is on the more traditional poutine end of the scale but with a few great additions. An excellent choice if you want to try a poutine that adds a little more than just curds & gravy.

Last up of the six (and very glad of stretchy pants at this point) we had the Le Classic,

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Le Classic Poutine

here we have the poutine purists dream, loaded with melty gooey cheese curds and drenched in flavourful chicken gravy. If you are looking for that textural crunch not to worry  because there is a healthy spattering of “crunchy stuff” adorning this masterful creation!

The final word on the Poutine Week offerings from the Guild is go, gather up all your friends and head down here.  the flavours are amazing, the portions are huge and well worth the $18 price tag. There is a poutine that is sure to please everyone in your group and remember this is all Poutine with Purpose and every one you buy provides a meal for someone in need!

Located in the SE edge of Calgary just off of International Avenue is Jane Bond BBQ. Tucked away in a small strip mall you will find this small but mighty southern style, home smoked BBQ joint. Trading up their well known onion ring poutine they have created a special Poutine Week offering aptly named The Dirty South,

this shareable offering is piled high with pulled pork and includes a generous spattering of dill pickle and beans n corn mix. The big star here however is the amazing smoky pig gravy that has just enough of a smoky punch to remind you where you are. Topped off with a big pile of their house made creamy slaw and a piece of fried alligator this poutine is full of flavour and textural elements that will be well remembered. Well worth the $15 price tag. Bring a friend and head on over to indulge in some Poutine With Purpose!

Modern Steak is a well known and popular steak house in Calgary where the classic steak house meets the trendy curve then excels. All of the beef in their restaurant is sourced from local Alberta farms where it is grass fed and grain finished then both wet and dry aged providing an amazing flavour and texture. This year they have three amazing Poutine Week offerings.

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We started our night with the Dry Aged Short Rib poutine,

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this dish really is the classic steak and frites dinner elevated and made into a poutine. This beautiful looking dish was diabolically delicious as it looked unassuming but really punched us in the taste buds. Instead of a traditional gravy, this dish is finished with a beautiful craft beer based demi then pickled mushrooms which add a fantastic texture and flavour to the overall dish. At $17 I would return again and again for this dish!

Next up was the Lobster Poutine,

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everything about the fries here at Modern Steak is fantastic. They are crisp, perfectly salted and make the perfect carrying vessel for this rich and creamy poutine. The intense lobster bisque used as the “gravy” and generous chunks of lobster made me awfully glad that this is all for charity because that makes it guilt and calorie free right?

And last but in no way the least offering of the night was the “Chili” Cheese Poutine,

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which is in no way shape or form your run of the mill chili-cheese fries. With a large portion of house made Wagyu bolognese and cheese curds smothered in a truffle cheese sauce this plate was everything you could ask for and more in a poutine! An elevated dish with a side of fun that at $17 is a great way to get your fix and provide a meal for someone in need.

Final thought on Modern Steak is that if you are looking for a great place to head and try a couple of fantastic poutine offerings all in one sitting head on down to Kensington and settle into a booth where the music is pumping and the poutines are amazing!

Tucked into a busy section of the popular 4th street restaurant row in a charming little place with gilded ceilings and crystal chandeliers you will find Aida’s Bistro. A long standing family run shop providing Lebanese cuisine to Calgary since 2000. I love the fact that they have stepped in to participate in Poutine Week with a couple of offerings that you won’t find anywhere else!

Offering number one is the Tajen poutine,

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a beautiful vegetarian dish with crispy garlic roasted potatoes and a beautiful onion tahini infused sauce. Topped off with Halloum cheese melted to perfection this dish is a beautiful light Lebanese version of poutine.

Their second offering is a Shawarma poutine,

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covered with an amazingly spiced shawarma tenderloin this dish was the hit to the tastebuds that you would expect from a Lebanese dish. Topped with tomato, onion and Halloum cheese that added the perfect amount of salt, this dish was so easy to eat that I was almost disappointed that I had to share it.

The final thought on Aida’s Bistro, if you are anywhere along the busy 4th street stretch stop in and take a break where you can watch the hectic world go by while you enjoy flavourful home made Lebanese creations. For only $8 each these poutine creations are the perfect size to be an accompanying side dish to many of the other great looking menu items here.

Spot On Kitchen and Bar located in Garrison Green (not too far from Mount Royal University) is the new sister to the popular 4th Spot Kitchen and Bar. This year they jumped into Poutine week with an amazing entry a Chicken and Waffle poutine,

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with a large selection of poutines on the regular menu they pulled out all the stops for this creation. A large portion of crispy fries is drenched in a specially made (not on the regular menu) chicken bacon gravy loaded with cheese curds then topped with tender chicken crisp chunks, fresh waffle bits and maple syrup. I went in not sure how I would feel about this outside the box creation but found myself falling in love with it. The waffle pieces were crisp, tender and full of flavour that when combined with the chicken tenders and maple syrup came up the perfect sweet and savoury bite.

If you aren’t sure that you will like this one I highly suggest that you go and give it a try, not only adult friendly but kid friendly too I think this will please everyone at the table. At $15 this poutine is the perfect meal size for one or shareable appetizer for two and remember, enjoying this perfect creation is guilt free while you support Poutine week!

With all 5 restaurants under my belt and a few extras thrown in for good measure it looks like it is time to go back to some salads and hit the treadmill. Every belt notch loosened and pound gained in the name of charity was worth it and I can’t wait for next year to see all of the amazing creations that Calgary can come up with.

Indulging in the gift of stretchy pants throughout Poutine Week I am Your Everyday Foodie!

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