Is there anything more Canadian than eating a poutine? Watching hockey, maybe. Or drinking coffee from Tim Horton’s. I’ve got a confession to make, though: I don’t particularly like hockey or Tim Horton’s. I know! I know! I’m pretty sure the only thing keeping me from being deported is my abiding love of poutine.
Seriously, what’s not to love? Fries. Check. Delicious. Cheese curds. Yep, delicious. Gravy. You know that’s delicious. So it’s no surprise that when you combine those elements, you (usually) wind up with a delicious final product.
Oddly enough, McDonald’s only recently started serving poutine in Canada (they’ve had it in Quebec for a while, but the rest of the country has been sadly poutine-free). This doesn’t seem like a big deal until you realize that McDonald’s was the last poutine hold-out among the big burger chains. That omission has finally been rectified.
It costs $3.99, which isn’t crazy expensive, nor is it a particularly great value for the amount of food you’re getting.
The biggest obstacle in McDonald’s quest to bring a great poutine to the masses: their very thinly-cut fries. Though McDonald’s fries are some of the better fast food fries out there, a poutine really requires a more substantial fry to hold up to the onslaught of gravy. And how does McDonald’s solve this issue? By doing nothing at all; sadly, the thin fries are just as problematic as you’d think.
To be fair, the idea of McD’s creating a separate type of fries just for their poutine is pretty much a pipe dream. It would be nice, but it’s never going to happen.
So yes, the fries sog up. In fact, they were soggy right from the first bite (though spending a couple of minutes taking pictures before I started eating probably didn’t help in that regard — but I suspect that this was a lost cause either way).
The gravy is a fairly generic chicken gravy; it tastes fine and gets the job done, but it’s nothing that anyone is going to get too excited over. If you’ve ever had a middling canned gravy from a supermarket, you know what to expect.
It also wasn’t quite hot enough. The heat level in a poutine is a bit of a balancing act; you don’t want it to be so hot that the curds completely liquefy, but they do need to soften a bit more than the curds did here.
The curds, however, are pretty good. The biggest test of a good cheese curd is whether or not it squeaks when you bite into it, and these had a decent amount of squeak.
And of course, kudos must go to McDonald’s for avoiding the cardinal sin of poutinedom — substituting shredded mozzarella for the cheese curds, or, even worse, shredded cheddar (the horror… the horror). Any restaurant that serves poutine with shredded cheese is basically announcing to the the world: “Hey, guess what? We’re garbage and we serve garbage!” Harsh? Maybe. True? You know it.
(Nutrition Facts – 510 calories, 30 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 1010 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fibre, 1 gram of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.)
Item: McDonald’s Poutine (Canada)
Purchased Price: $3.99
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: A passable poutine that doesn’t get anything horrifically wrong. Squeaky curds. Will satisfy a poutine craving in a pinch.
Cons: Thin fries that immediately sog up. Boring gravy. Not hot enough. A little overpriced for what you’re getting.