Cattlemen’s Steakhouse upholds Western ways

Stockyards City in Oklahoma City shows a Western air
Every time a server places a grilled steak before a hungry diner at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, the refrain is the same. “I’ll have you cut right into that,” the server says, “and make sure that we cooked it right.”

It’s hardly a surprise that beef gets special treatment at Cattlemen’s. It’s Oklahoma City’s oldest continuously operated restaurant. Originally called Cattlemen’s Cafe, it opened in 1910 right in the midst of Stockyards City to serve the ranchers, cowboys, and cattle haulers involved in sending beef to the markets back East.

Located slightly west of downtown, today’s Stockyards District remains the home of one of the biggest livestock markets in the West. Shops specializing in jeans, boots, 10-gallon hats, and belts with big buckles line the streets. In this cowboy corner of town, Cattlemen’s is a legend. During Prohibition, owner Homer Paul served homemade alcoholic libations in defiance of the Revenue men. The restaurant even changed hands in a game of dice in 1945. Putting up his life savings against the establishment, rancher Gene Wade rolled double threes to win—hence the “33” brand displayed prominently on the walls. The Wade clan owned Cattlemen’s until 1990, when it changed hands in a more conventional manner—in a sale.

Still point in a changing world

Interior of cafe side of Cattlemen's STeakhouse in Oklahoma City Cattlemen’s has expanded and gussied things up over the years. At some point it started calling itself a steakhouse. But the cafe room on the north side has changed hardly a whit since the Wades won the place. Grab a stool at the counter or slide into a booth with red vinyl seats and you get a feel for what Oklahoma City was like when it was a dusty cattle town on the Plains instead of a big city with a downtown bristling with skyscrapers.

The menu at Cattlemen’s is surprisingly long. We say “surprisingly,” since only a rookie or a vegan would order anything but steak. Even the breakfast menu has an entire panel of steak options, each of which comes with two eggs, home fries, and toast.

Lunch steak at Cattlemen's Steakhouse in Oklahoma CityThe beef ranges from chewy club steak (the lunch steak as shown here) to big T-bone steaks to the daily prime special. Like most restaurants, Cattlemen’s serves USDA Choice meats, but every day it has at least one cut that’s USDA Prime, which represents the top 2 percent of beef. Degrees of doneness are spelled out on the menu, just so there are no misunderstandings. Choice or Prime, it’s full of flavor, and the accompanying baked Idaho is flaky and comes with a copious supply of butter. (Cholesterol is not a big concern at Cattlemen’s.) For lunch and dinner, Cattlemen’s also has a really great selection of reserve wines, including Tim Mondavi’s Continuum and Blackbird Arise.

Cattlemen’s Steakhouse (1309 S. Agnew Ave., Oklahoma City; 405-236-0416; opens at 6 a.m. daily and closes at 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, midnight on Friday and Saturday.


09 2016

Film Row gives a new twist on OKC fun

Film Exchange on Film Row in Oklahoma City
Hollywood met the High Plains in Oklahoma City as early as 1907. By the 1960s, literally hundreds of film exchanges operated in OKC as distribution points for almost every film studio in the U.S. Films fanned out to 37 cities from Film Row, until changes in movie technology changed the means of distribution. The heart of the current Film Row ( is the corner of Sheridan and Lee Avenues. Many old buildings remain, complete with ghost paintings of their studio names. The neighborhood has begun to emerge as a center for arts, entertainment, and dining.

A concert venue/dance club is rising behind the 21c Museum Hotel. Meanwhile, there’s plenty to entice, ranging from the main gallery of Individual Artists of Oklahoma ( to the quirky coffee bar/art gallery/potting shed known as The Plant Shoppe ( Paramount Arts & Entertainment ( contains the bar and bistro Noir as well as a black-box theater used by contemporary drama companies. Its cinema shows movies on weekends in one of the original Paramount Studios screening rooms.

That Pie Truck on Film Row in Oklahoma City Only stretching about four blocks on Sheridan Avenue, Film Row is blocked off on the third Friday of the month for an event called Premiere. The main feature is a gathering of food trucks selling everything from barbecued brisket, pulled pork, and giant plates of nachos to bowls of vegan mac and cheese (made with cashew cheese) and green chile pork tacos. One truck serves only variations of s’mores and shaved ice with fresh fruit. No matter how enticing, save room for dessert from That Pie Truck (@thatpieplaceOK), the mobile variant of the brick-and-mortar bakery That Pie Place. We were so taken with the tequila key lime pie that we figured out how to make it at home.


This variant of the time-honored condensed milk key lime pie comes out higher and a little lighter, thanks to the incorporation of some meringue into the custard. And because it is fully set by baking, it’s less likely than the original to weep or make the crust soggy. If you’re not a tequila drinker, you don’t have to buy a whole bottle to make the recipe. A standard nip provides just the right amount.

Tequila lime pieIngredients
14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
zest of 2 limes
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup (50ml) gold tequila
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon sugar
1 prepared graham cracker crust
sweetened whipped cream

Set oven at 325°F.

Place condensed milk in large bowl. Stir in egg yolks, lime zest, lime juice, and tequila.

In separate bowl, place egg whites and sugar. Whip with egg beater or electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Stir about a quarter of the meringue into the milk-egg-lime mix. Then fold in remaining meringue.

Pour mixture into prepared graham cracker crust. Place pie into preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. When jostled, it should seem mostly set but jiggle a little in the middle. Top will be slightly dry and perhaps just beginning to brown.

Cool on rack, then chill for at least 2 hours. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.


09 2016

Imagining fresh starts in Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City downtown from roof of art museum
The southern plains horizons of Oklahoma City seem to stretch to infinity in every direction. So do the streets, which line up in orderly grids. When a storm gathers, tumbling balls of black clouds pile up to the top of the sky and you cross your fingers that they don’t drop a funnel to the ground. When the sun shines, the whole landscape gets so hot that it looks like it’s about to sizzle. The heroic scale of the land and sky in this quintessential American frontier city of 610,000 allows it to sprawl 30 miles across in places. With all that elbow room, its distinct neighborhoods have matured like siblings in a big family—undeniably related but each with its own quirks.

You get a peek of the Downtown office towers in the photo above of an “Art After Five” concert and cafe on top of the striking Oklahoma City Museum of Art (, itself the anchor for a downtown arts district. Just west of Downtown’s towers stands the up-and-coming Film Row neighborhood—see the next post for more on that. The area, where Hollywood studios came to meet Midwest exhibitors, sits cheek by jowl with some of the city’s early factories. Many of the low-rise buildings still service the oil and gas trade, but the new anchor for the west end of Film Row is the 21c Museum Hotel (

Vision from the assembly line

Mary Eddy's banquettes in Oklahoma City It is the latest property in a small group of contemporary art museums with beautifully designed hotel rooms upstairs. The OKC hotel occupies a handsome building designed by Albert Kahn for Henry Ford. It opened in 1916 with a new-fangled assembly line to build Model T’s. Later, one of the first workers, Fred Jones bought the structure to make Ford parts and became one of the largest Ford dealers in the U.S. His heirs partnered with 21c to build the hotel. The restaurant, named Mary Eddy’s after Jones’s wife, is as homey as the name sounds and as contemporary as the art around it. In a nod to the automotive history of the building, the designer installed banquette seating (at right) intended to evoke the two-tone bench seats of the heyday of Big American Cars.

Chef Jason Campbell came from the Cincinnati hotel of the group, but his central Florida roots and training with a Moroccan chef in Orlando shine through. This being cattle country, he prepares an excellent strip steak with mild green chile peppers and a pine nut romesco sauce. (His burger is also very good.) Like many young chefs, he is enamored of charcuterie. His appetizer plate of house-made sausage, pickles, and mustard with a few cheeses and toast spread with drippings from the rotisserie is very popular. Called “Toolbox,” it’s also offered at the bar.

Truth is, Campbell really likes vegetables and does everything he can to make sure his diners do too. His grilled corn with miso and charred lime is a brilliant take on Mexican street corn. He splits the cobs and serves them in short, manageable pieces. Since we like to see how dishes come together, we ate at the dining room bar overlooking the open kitchen. We were quite smitten with a seemingly simple dish of glazed carrots. We had thought that they were roasted, but the glaze and slight char but came from reducing the cooking liquid until it evaporated. Campbell was good enough to share the recipe, which makes a side dish for a whole crew.
Open kitchen at Mary Eddy's in Oklahoma City


For the carrots
1 bunch of assorted colored carrots washed and tops saved
4 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves
2 sprigs thyme
2 cups orange juice
peel from 1 orange (a vegetable peeler does this task well)
Salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon)

Mary Eddy's heirloom carrots in Oklahoma City Add carrots to a large sauté pan along with all other ingredients and bring to a simmer and continue to cook until the carrots are tender. Check after 10 minutes. If the liquid reduces before carrots are done, just add water to cover and reduce again. The idea is to glaze the carrots with the sugar in the orange juice. Salt to taste after carrots are done.

For the harissa yogurt
1 tablespoon toasted cumin
16 oz Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons harissa paste
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
Lightly crush cumin seeds and combine all ingredients, stir, and check for seasoning,
If you like especially spicy food, add additional harissa paste to taste.

To finish and serve
1 cup cooked quinoa, prepared to package directions
2 tablespoons of chopped carrot top greens
zest of 1 orange
Extra Virgin olive oil

Add cooked quinoa to glazed carrots and toss with chopped carrot greens.

Smear yogurt on large platter. Pile carrot mixture artfully on yogurt. Sprinkle with orange zest and sea salt. Drizzle lightly with EVOO.


09 2016

Christo’s Floating Piers rise like Franciacorta bubbles

Floating Piers by Christo
For 16 days in late June and early July, the artist Christo let art-lovers walk on water. His “Floating Piers” project was his first outdoor installation since 2005 when he and his late wife and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude, installed 7,500 panels to make gates in New York’s Central Park. Like the gates, the piers gleamed with celebratory saffron-colored fabric. Some 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes supported the 53-foot wide walkway.

Christo at Lake Iseo Nearly two years in the making, the environmental artwork connected two small islands in Lake Iseo with each other and the mainland. And now it’s all gone — but not before an estimated 1 million visitors experienced it.

The poignancy of Christo’s works lies in the tension between the heroic scale of their vision and their ephemeral nature. How appropriate that he chose the wine district of Franciacorta, one of Italy’s great sparkling wines! Years of work go into every bottle. When the wine is poured, the bubbles rise and form a delicate mousse at the top of the glass. But they burst, and the moment is gone—just like “Floating Piers.”

Exploring Franciacorta

People on Floating Piers Timed to the Franciacorta Summer Festival in June, Christo’s work brought a million people to the Franciacorta area, about an hour northeast of Milan. Because so much of Lombardy has cutting edge industry, many wine drinkers don’t realize how bucolic the region can be. In fact, the Strada del Franciacorta was established in 2000. The wine road promotes the region for tourism focused on wine and food. More than 100 wineries along the route handcraft their wines in the metodo classico—with a second fermentation in the bottle. The road also details more than 30 restaurants and wine bars and 30 hotels, bed and breakfasts, and agriturismo farm stays. The Cappuccini Resort is a restored 17th century monastery. (For information in English, see the web site:

The area is also great for cycling. The wine road association also details five cycling paths. Each traverses a different section of the region, passing through small villages and vineyards. They are named after different styles of Franciacorta.

The fall Franciacorta Festival takes place September 17-18 this year. It features concerts and food and wine exhibitions throughout the region. For complete details, see the downloadable flyer at

Franciacorta with food

Franciacorta Contadi Castaldi Saten Franciacorta wines are great for celebrating. But given the modest prices (most $25-$40), you don’t have to wait for a milestone or life-changing event. We recently celebrated the annual tomato glut with pasta tossed with chopped basil and peeled cherry tomatoes. (Dip them for 5 seconds in boiling water, immediately chill, and pierce with a sharp knife. The tomatoes pop whole from the skins.) We drank a Contado Castaldi 2010 Sàten. The “silky” style, unique to Franciacorta, emphasizes tiny pinpoint bubbles. By DOC regulations, that’s a wine made only from white grapes. This was all Chardonnay. It has a lot of acidic backbone, so it held up well with the tart fresh tomatoes. Several years of bottle aging on the lees gave it a toasty nose and faintly bitter aftertaste that complemented the food nicely. The yeasty nose was a perfect counterpoint to the spicy, floral notes of the just-picked basil.

For more about Franciacorta, see our post from last September: “Franciacorta: effervescent joy from Italy.”

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08 2016

Healthy poutine is not an oxymoron

Chef Gérôme Paquette and an appreciative diner at Montreal Poutinefest
“Eating vegetarian is a culture that grows every day,” acknowledges Gérôme Paquette, chef at L’Gros Luxe (, a small chain of restaurants committed to a healthy lifestyle. “People are more cautious about what they are eating.”

But that doesn’t mean that diners want to give up flavor—or comfort food favorites such poutine. And Paquette (above left) is happy to oblige. “Creating a vegetarian version of poutine is not that complicated,” he says. He points out that it’s all about balancing flavors and textures of the sauce and topping ingredients.

In place of the typically rich meat gravy, Paquette creates a vegetable stock that he seasons as if it were a meat stock. For his Poutine Thai, he ladles the thickened veggie stock over the frites and adds the requisite cheese curds. He then and tops the basket with a substantive salad of bean sprouts, green onions, and cilantro. He drizzles a little hoisin sauce over it all, sprinkles on a few dashes of sriracha, and adds wedges of lime for the diners to squeeze over the dish to taste.

Thai vegetarian poutine at Montreal Poutinefest The result is a surprisingly elegant presentation. The gravy does not obscure the brightly colored vegetables and crisp frites. The sriracha adds a bit of heat and the bean sprouts and peanuts add a good crunch to contrast with the soft frites. It’s a dish that looks good, tastes good and is fun to eat. In truth, a serving of poutine can seem a little monotonous by the end. But the variations in texture and pops of flavor keep this version interesting down to the last bite. It is, in fact, the best seller at the L’Gros Luxe outpost. The woman above was thrilled to find a vegetarian option at the Poutinefest.

Paquette is humble about the success of the dish. “It’s good to create something with elements that you don’t think will go together – but they do,” he says.


08 2016

Caribbean flavors explode in jerk chicken poutine

Chef Jae Anthony cooks jerk chicken at Montreal Poutinefest
Montreal’s multiculturalism is one key to the city’s enduring appeal and its ability to constantly reinvent itself. Chef Jae Anthony is a case in point. His parents came from Barbados and Trinidad, and while Jae has roots in both Caribbean nations, he’s a Montrealer through and through. He operates the Seasoned Dreams restaurant in the Côte Saint-Paul neighborhood, just over the Lachine Canal bridge near the Ambroise-McAuslan brewery. You can get his cooking all year long at 5205 rue Angers, Montreal (514-769-2222; Seasoned Dreams specializes in Caribbean fusion cooking, He also A portable version of the restaurant travels around to festivals.

jerk chicken and pork poutine from Seasoned Dreams at Montreal Poutinefest Finding Seasoned Dreams was a breeze at the Montreal Poutinefest. You could literally follow your nose. Chef Jae and his partner Julien Chemtof were cooking outdoors over very smoky grills. One grill had whole jerk-seasoned pork butts slowly spinning on a rotisserie over charcoal. The other was a gas grill that produced voluminous clouds of smoke as Chef Jae cooked chicken marinated in jerk seasoning. Chef Jae proudly calls himself “the originator of Famous Montreal Style Jerk Chicken Poutine.” Seasoned Dreams offered a choice of jerk chicken poutine, jerk pork poutine, or a combination plate of both. (At the restaurant they also make a Haitian-style braised oxtail poutine, They also serve a classic poutine for Canadian purists.)

Authenticity shows

Because the cooking process was so smoky, Seasoned Dreams was set up at the downwind end of the food trucks and stands. That allowed the smoke to billow away toward the river. (Clocktower Quai sits on a particularly scenic part of the Montreal waterfront.) But diners made a point of seeking out the jerk poutine. As we waited in line for ours, we asked a woman standing nearby how she liked her jerk chicken.

“Caribbeans are the toughest critics,” she said, identifying herself as coming from Antigua. “If they like it, you know it’s good.” She didn’t just like it, she said. “I love it.”


08 2016

Poutine plays nicely with lobster and bacon

Jesse Teasdale poses with lobster bacon poutine at Montreal Poutinefest.
Poutine’s simplicity seems to spur cooks to increasingly baroque inventions. Think of a preschooler fantasizing about crossing a T. Rex with a firetruck, or wondering what superpowers the offspring of Superman and Wonder Woman might possess. Fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy have a salty, starchy goodness all their own. So what happens when you cross poutine with, say, a cheeseburger? Or lobster? Or lobster and bacon?

Lady with bacon cheeseburger poutine at Montreal Poutinefest It’s the kind of thinking that led to a number of the ice cream mashup flavors at Ben & Jerry, but it suits the spirit of a poutine food truck festival. Especially in Montreal. What if…?

One of the more successful forays into hybridizing fast foods turns out to be the bacon cheeseburger poutine. Think about it. It skips the question that thousands of college grads ask at their first jobs—“Would you like fries with that?”—and goes straight to the affirmative. Plus, the bacon cheeseburger gets some salty brown gravy for good measure. You’d think a bacon cheeseburger poutine would be the kind of dish that mostly guys in baggy shorts and askew baseball caps would order, but the Montreal lady above insists that the basket is actually really tasty. And she clearly has good taste.

Lobster bacon poutine is twice as good

Jesse Teasdale with lobster bacon poutine at Montreal Poutinefest One of the most popular poutine versions at the festival this year was the Lobster Bacon Poutine served by the Ottawa-based Golden Fries/The Grilled Cheeserie truck. Each batch of fries was covered in the meat of a small lobster in a cream sauce infused with double-smoked bacon. The truck belongs to Jane Racicof, but her husband Jesse Teasdale (right) was fronting the operation in Montreal.

“In the off-season, I was talking to a chef and we were just fooling around,” Teasdale explains. “But we came up with the idea of a lobster-bacon poutine.” They came up with an original recipe based on lobster bouillon seasoned with garlic, pepper, “and lots of love.” The cooked bacon is added directly to the liquid to steep. The cooks add cream to the sauce and thicken it with a roux to make a lobster white stock. It’s a big improvement over generic brown gravy. It’s a mashup of poutine with lobster chowder.

But lest the lobster poutine get too big for its britches, it still contains plenty of fresh cheese curds to make diners smile when the curds squeak on their teeth.

“Last year we sold 1,000 a day,” says Teasdale. “This year looks even better.”


08 2016

Montreal smoked meat shines at Poutinefest

Maison Smokies Charcuterie-Deli serves smoked meat at Poutinefest
Maybe it was preordained. The quintessential delicatessen specialty of Montreal–smoked meat–had to meet up with poutine at some point. Perhaps the only thing that kept it from happening sooner is the kosher prohibition against serving meat and dairy (i.e., cheese curds) in the same dish.

The exact origins of Montreal smoked meat are murky, but it was clearly introduced by Eastern European Jewish immigrant butchers around the end of the 19th century. In its modern incarnation, smoked meat is made from beef brisket dry-cured with salt and spices, hot smoked, and finally steamed before serving. It resembles New York pastrami, but is usually cured with far less sugar and far more spices—especially cracked pepper, coriander, mustard seed, and garlic. The flavor is so addictive that Montrealers in exile often get packages of it delivered from home.

Costa Sigounis at Poutinefest Costa Sigounis knows his smoked meat. He spent 40 years running restaurants and delis that served smoked meat on rye to generations of Montreal diners. He still owns part of a smoked meat factory. But his main restaurant business these days consists of food trucks, which he says really began to catch on three to four years ago. Two of his trucks stay parked at the Old Port. A third truck, called Maison Smokies Charcuterie-Deli, is always on the move. It rolls around town to feed the hungry crowds at Montreal’s frequent festivals. At Poutinefest, people lined up ten deep for the smoked meat poutine baskets from Maison Smokies.

smoked meat poutine at Poutinefest Sigounis says that he has found that smoked meat ranks among the most popular toppings for poutine. (He also sells versions with meatballs and hot peppers and with lamb sausage.) Although smoked meat might have strayed from the dietary strictures of its Jewish immigrant origins, Sigounis still serves his smoked meat poutine with whole half-sour pickles. That’s the de rigeur accompaniment to a smoked meat sandwich you’d order at any Mile End deli. The pickle’s slight pucker cuts through the unctuousness of the meat, and the cucumber crunch provides a nice textural contrast.


08 2016

Argentine poutine spices up Montreal Poutinefest

Sandro's at Poutinefest
Sandro Guerrero hails from Córdoba, Argentina. “It’s a good country with a lot of meat,” he says with almost ironic understatement. The average Argentine eats nearly 100 pounds of beef annually. That equals the annual consumption of an American and a Canadian combined.

When he moved his family to Montreal three years ago, Guerrero had never heard of poutine. He admits to an initial skepticism about the favorite dish of Montrealers.

Sandro Guerrero at Poutinefest “I thought it was impossible to eat potatoes with the sauce,” he says of the often nondescript salty brown gravy. “But when I tried it, I had to admit that this is a very good product.”

Guerrero’s regular gig is as a chef at Le Smoking BBQ (see previous post). His Argentine skills with meat and fire come in handy, even if the style of the food there is more American South than South American. But at the Poutinefest, he had his own stand to serve “Asado Argentino” poutine. The dish combines Argentine and Quebecois traditions. He marinates pieces of bavette steak in chimichuri, cuts them into large chunks, and grills them on skewers over charcoal. He then serves the meat on French fries with copious quantities of fresh cheese curds and a topping of chimichuri. (He also serves pieces of pork loin treated the same way, but the beef was more popular.)

“I first tried serving it at the Grand Prix,” he says, referring to Montreal’s annual auto race in early June. “It sold really well.”

All the rage in Montreal bistros these days, bavette is a perfect grilling cut. It is the flap of meat on a beef loin adjacent to flank steak. The cut is also known in New England and parts of New York as “sirloin tips.” Properly marinated and grilled, it is tender and deeply beefy.

bavette and chimichuri poutine at Poutinefest Guerrero marinates the meat in a version of chimichuri that emphasizes the vegetables, which makes it more Argentine than North American. The marinade (which doubles as a sauce) features roughly equal parts of vinegar and oil, along with plenty of salt, garlic, onion, and chopped fresh chile pepper. Fully half the volume of the marinade consists of chopped cilantro and Italian parsley. As a marinade, it tenderizes the meat. As a sauce, it wakes up your tastebuds.

“It’s like a salad for meat,” Guerrero says. “I think the cultural fusion is very good.”

We agree. It’s a little like steak-frites in a basket—and what’s better than steak-frites?


08 2016

Montreal Poutinefest rocks the waterfront

Le Smoking BBQ truck at Poutinefest
Certain foods seem destined to go together. Bacon and eggs. Peanut butter and jelly. Shrimp and grits. If you are Québecois, the gastronomic holy trinity is French fries, cheese curds, and gravy. The dish is called poutine (pronounced poo-TEEN). Roger Hubert says it has become “the meal” in Quebec. That’s why he and his son Greg, proprietor of the Montreal restaurant Le Smoking BBQ, launched the first Poutinefest at Montreal’s Old Port in fall 2015. It was such a success that they pulled out all the stops for an even splashier version at the end of June 2016. Featuring 18 food trucks with a panoply of poutine variations, the festival took place for three days on the Quai de l’Horloge (Clocktower Quay). Admission was free, but each truck set its own price for poutine.

The dish of French fries laced with fresh cheese curds and doused in brown gravy is the ultimate comfort food. Many Québecers swear by its curative properties when consumed after a long night of imbibing alcoholic beverages. (One poutine restaurant in Montreal stays open all night on weekends.)

The elemental poutine formula creates a mild, slightly salty dish with the squish of gravy-soaked fries and the tooth-squeak of fresh cheese curd. Poutine is so ubiquitous in Quebec (and beyond) that you’d think it had been around forever. But poutine was first served in a restaurant in Warwick in 1957. From that small town halfway between Montreal and Quebec City, it migrated to the provincial capital. The Ashton frites food truck in Québec City, which started serving poutine to the masses in 1972, popularized the dish. Since then, Chez Ashton has morphed into a province-wide chain of fast-food shops.

Poutine, the next generation

Greg Hubert at Poutinefest Whatever its rustic roots, we believe that poutine reached its apotheosis in Montreal when chefs with a nouveau bistro bent began adding such toppings as braised lamb shanks, confit duck leg, salmon roe, and even foie gras. A novelty at first, some restaurants now even feature a poutine of the day.

“People make crazy poutine,” says Greg Hubert (left). “But everything done on the poutine is usually good.”

The Poutinefest has returned poutine to its food truck roots. Greg offers four variations of barbecue poutine at Le Smoking BBQ (2186 Ste-Catherine West, Montreal, 514-903-6676, His truck kept things simple and served just two at Poutinefest. His base poutine to which barbecued meats are added has a savory house gravy created from roasted meat and bone brown stock. For the barbecued beef short ribs version, he adds a house-made barbecue sauce on top.

Pulled pork poutine at Poutinefest Le Smoking BBQ truck’s biggest seller at the festival, however, was the pulled pork poutine, as shown here. Underneath all that chopped and pulled pork in a sweet-sour barbecue sauce are the requisite fries, brown gravy, and squeaky cheese curds. The poutine base was delicious and mild, and made a great launching pad for the tangy pulled pork.

In truth, we could have stopped there. But in the spirit of investigative gastronomic journalism, we spent three days tasting our way through the truck offerings. Over the next few posts, we’ll cover some of the most original. For updates on the 2017 festival, check the web site.


08 2016