I should preface this by saying I’m not a poutine lover. I do like a few bites when my friends order it, but I’ve to date never finished a whole poutine order by myself, and La Banquise was no exception.
This is probably one of the most popular places for poutine in downtown Montreal, and expect lines if you’re going during peak meal time. They offer take-out but I would recommend sitting down unless you’re eating nearby, as poutine is definitely a dish best served hot.
Originally started as an ice cream shoppe, La Banquise now offers over 30 types on poutine on their menu, as well as specials. If you’ve ever tried Smoke’s Poutinerie, it is a chain that was modelled after La Banquise.
We came before 6pm on a Saturday, and though there were quite a few open spaces, we did have to wait about ten minutes to be seated. The tables are pretty cramped and as a result you are very close to your neighbours (our neighbour commented on the fact we were taking photos of our food and went on to complain to her companion about the abundance of food photos on her Facebook… classy eavesdropping). Once we were ready to order, it also took quite a while to catch our server’s attention. Other servers passed us by but made no acknowledgement of us, which was a bit annoying as we were on a tight schedule.
The food didn’t take long to arrive, and we both ordered regular plates, which is plenty for a single person. The fries were soggier than what you might expect, but as I do love softer, meatier fries, this wasn’t a negative to me. The vegan gravy (extra $1.25 for regular plates) wasn’t very flavourful, but passable. The cheese curds were firm and held their shape. Thankfully none of the curds were overly large, which sometimes overpowers the taste.
La Taquise (reg. $9.75): the mix of tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole were good and added more dimension to a traditional poutine. The sour cream was firm and delicious, unlike the runnier variety typically used. Unfortunately, the guacamole was oddly slimy in texture, likely a result of being overly processed. While I did finish the majority of it, this adds to the list of poutines not finished by yours truly. We left before 6:30pm and there was quite a line trailing outside the restaurant.
Overall, the experience was mediocre – the service was a bit off and the food was good comfort food but definitely something to share. The price is a bit steep for poutine, which essentially composed of very commonplace ingredients, but worth a try if you are in the area, but definitely not something I would line up for.