Savoring poutine at La Banquise in Montreal

- Montreal is only about a 90-minute flight from New York City. We had to check out a dish that this city in Quebec is known for: poutine at La Banquise. Open 24 hours a day, La Banquise has been a staple in its Montreal neighborhood for decades.

Why do many New Yorkers visiting Montreal have to try the poutine at La Banquise?

"That's not a question. La Banquise is the best," said owner Annie Barsalou, whose father, a firefighter, opened the restaurant in 1968 as an ice cream parlor. But when ice cream didn't sell well in winter, he changed it to a snack bar with French fries, hot dogs, and more.

This snack bar is now famous in Montreal and around the world for its poutine. But what exactly is poutine? At its most basic, it is three ingredients: French fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy.

It all starts with the potatoes. A lot of potatoes. La Banquise's potato room holds thousands of pounds of potatoes—all for just one day.

The fries are all pre-cooked just enough to be smooth inside, like mashed potatoes. Then they are cooked at a higher temperature to make them brown and crispy before serving the dish.

La Banquise has 30 kinds of poutine. We tried four versions:

The Classic (La Classique) is topped with gravy and cheese curds.

La Fred Caillou is ground beef, smoked meat, spicy sausage, and merguez sausage.

La Taquise adds guacamole, sour cream, and tomatoes.

And finally, La Festival features ground beef, Swiss cheese, hot peppers, and onion rings on top.

Then it was time to dig in. And let's just say, his New Yorker is hooked. And here is a pro tip: don't bother sharing your order.

After all these years, is Annie ever sick of poutine?

"No," she said, laughing. "I cannot stop eating it."

And neither can the regulars, making La Banquise a must on your next visit to Montreal.

La Banquise | 994, rue Rachel Est, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, H2J 2J3 | 514/525-2415 | labanquise.com

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