Poutine is a Canadian dish that many in the United States don't fully understand, but it's really rather simple. While variations of gravy can differ, classic poutine is made with thick-cut french fries, rich beef gravy and fresh, "squeaky" cheese curds. It's decadent and filling, a comforting meal in a cup. Poutine was created in Quebec, but it was only a matter of time before such a tasty indulgence made its way to the States and, to our elation, to Denver. Now you can find variations on poutine all over the city, but be warned: Some are completely off the wall ,and any self-respecting Canadian would probably eschew such creations. That said, from traditional to crazy to Colorado-themed, these ten poutines proven perfect in their own way.
1380 Horizon Avenue, Lafayette
As devious as it sounds, the mushroom-enhanced "illegal poutine" at this new Lafayette eatery shouldn't be outlawed. Thought up by Stem Ciders co-founder Eric Foster and executed by chef Daniel Asher, the dish is an umami bomb of shiitake gravy, Wisconsin cheddar curds, roasted Anaheim peppers and the Acreage's signature Belgian fries. As a bonus, the poutine is vegetarian and pairs wonderfully with one of the off-dry ciders you can get on tap.
Au Feu in Zeppelin Station
3501 Wazee Street
Chef Jared Leonard's poutine at his Montreal-style deli inside the newly opened Zeppelin Station comes closest to the original. "One thing I have learned from eating poutine all over Canada is that there's kind of a classic style, kind of like barbecue," says Leonard, adding that through research, he learned that gravy can differ and fry size varies. "But there are things you can do to make it not poutine." To make it just right, Leonard's right-hand man, Dylan Lipe, double-fries the steak-cut potatoes so they're crispy on the outside while maintaining a pillowy texture on the inside. Next comes locally made cheese curds, which are added at room temperature so they melt slightly when the super-hot veal demi-glace gravy is poured on. If you're a poutine newbie, then this should be your first, but if the dish is old hat to you, then you know why you need it.
Beast + Bottle
719 E. 17th Avenue
Pop into chef Paul C. Reilly's New American restaurant during brunch for a delectable poutine. Unlike many other iterations of the dish, this one is made with thin and crispy fries — a B+B signature item. Although seemingly delicate, the fries stand up to the delectable pork gravy and creamy yolk from the sunny egg on top. Semi-melted cheese curds add to the rich breakfast, perfect for soaking up last night's excesses. Get it as your entree if you dare, or better yet, order a plate for the table so your whole group can enjoy it along with this Uptown joint's other tasty brunch delights.
1317 14th Street
Chef Jorel Pierce has always liked poutine and, inspired by what the folks at Montreal's Joe Beef and Aux Pied de Cochon were doing, he decided Euclid Hall would also offer the dish. "We were setting off to have great fries and a killer sauce program, so poutine was a natural fit," he says. Today guests can find three rotating poutines on the menu, including one laced with duck, one with pork carnitas and and one with egg, each from a specific farm. For example, the carnitas papas fritas (more like green chili cheese fries than poutine) boasts pork from Corner Post Meats in Colorado Springs. Pierce is also working on adding a Peruvian-influenced octopus poutine, but until then, diners will have to be happy with one of the others, such as the duck-confit poutine, which features the same hand-cut fries as well as peppered duck gravy and cheddar cheese curds.
Highland Tap & Burger
2219 West 32nd Avenue, 720-287-4493
Sloan's Lake Tap & Burger
1565 Raleigh Street, 720-456-6779
A dish like poutine fits in so well with the other items on this menu of American comfort foods, one may even forget that it's a Canadian specialty. Guests at either Tap & Burger location can see what the fuss is about and sample hand-cut fries laden with warming brown gravy, bright cheddar cheese curds and pulled braised beef. It's big enough to be a solo meal if you wish, though sharing would be the nice thing to do.