We’re back with more impressions of local poutines, including some heavy hitters! Our search for Nanaimo’s best poutine continues. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. Here’s what we tried this time around:
- Pirate Chips $9.50
- LaBelle (Parksville) $10.99
- Maggie’s Fish & Chips and Seafood Market $7.95
Pirate Chips claims to have the best poutine around (it’s even in their slogan) so we we really excited to give this a try. Their fries are also excellent, and they use real cheese curds, so it should just have been a matter of getting the gravy right and nailing the presentation.
Our order came as a side with a delicious burger, but was still massive.
As expected, the fries were excellent and were the right balance between bready and crispy. The brown gravy was think and quite flavourful, but was a bit on the salty side for our taste – although this might have been the salt from the fries.
These cheese was proper curds but like so many poutines in Nanaimo, the temperature of the poutine was too low to actually soften the cheese. We suspect the curds were stored in the fridge (boo!) The heat of the fries and gravy was not enough to start to melt the cheese and so there was no gooieness here, and in fact some of the curds were cold to the tongue.
It’s too bad, because this poutine is so close to being just right. If they can get the temperature right in the future, they have a real winner here.
On our visit to LaBelle, the restaurant had just opened and was in so-called “soft-opening”. LaBelle is a Quebec-style fast food joint, so we were excited to try what was likely to be a more authentic Quebec-style poutine.
Compared to the typical poutines we get around here, what we expected was: 1) bigger, fluffier fries, 2) chicken-based gravy, 3) soft, melty curds. LaBelle delivered on the first two, but missed the mark on the latter. The fries were thick-cut and deliciously steamy. The chicken gravy was thick and peppery and was a great alternative to all the brown/beef gravy poutines you can find around here. Unfortunately (and at the risk of sounding like a broken record) the cheese curds were added too cold for the heat of the fries and gravy to soften them. Just like Pirate Chips, some of the curds were actually cold to eat. Given the restaurant had just opened, we’re willing to give it another try to see if they can get the temperature right. The price of the dish is slightly high, but if they can nail it, it will totally be worth it.
Maggie’s Fish & Chips and Seafood Market
Now here’s one that caught us by surprise. You might think, “Why would a seafood place have poutine?” or, “Does their poutine have fish on it or something?” The answers are, we don’t know; and no, that’s kinda weird.
The first thing you might notice about Maggie’s poutine is the monstrous size of it. This poutine was 4 or 5 cups in size and is considered a medium. Wat. There’s food for four people here.
On closer inspection, the poutine contains large fluffy fries, big cheese curds and a brown gravy. It also has some shredded cheese (perhaps mozza) to make up for a slight lack of curds. This is hardly traditional, but is certainly not a deal breaker. The gravy has fair amount of garlic in it which gives this poutine more of a homestyle, comfort food appeal, if that’s even possible.
We are also happy to report that the cheese curds were at the perfect level of soft and warm without melting into a mess. Bingo.
So what we have here is a massive, quite tasty poutine at a very reasonable price. This brings us to the…
This was again a reasonably easy choice. Both Pirate Chips’ famous poutine and LaBelle’s authentic Quebec-style poutine were both excellent, except for slightly missing the mark on the temperature.
Maggie’s poutine was generally unexceptional from a flavour perspective but we had no complaints and happily, the cheese curds were right. Also, considering the size of the dish for its price, the value is unbeatable compared to the others. Overall, it’s the best of the bunch and we look forward to trying it again. Thanks Maggie’s!