Earlier this week, Devin’s French professor recommended La Belle Patate. I am much less versed in the happenings on the west side of the Gorge waterway where La Belle Patate is situated, but I was persuaded to hop on the number ten Esquimalt bus when I learned that this unknown establishment is in the business of Montreal style poutine.
La Belle Patate is found in a rather tired looking little store front, and yes, the interior is exactly how you would expect it to be from external appearances. It’s a standard, greasy take-away counter where you take your shame fest to eat in private, although there are a few little tables to use should you be so inclined. Despite that I’d expect it to be the poutine to sufficiently entice a newcomer into this apparent rat’s nest, poutine is merely one of various side options on a menu offering hot dogs, hamburgers, and smoked meat. Since I fell into the poutine-seeking category, I didn’t pay much attention to the rest and Devin and I ordered up a large poutine to share plus a Spruce Beer for myself. The Spruce Beer has a strange role in La Belle Patate’s bill of fare. Presented as a sort of specialty offering, I was hardly expecting to find it taking the form of a President’s Choice soda pop can. This was momentarily disappointing, but I urged myself to shed the yuppie culture instilled expectations of what is an enjoyable soda beverage and happily added it to my order. For a large poutine and my soda, our order was just over 12$.
With maybe two orders placed before us, our wait was less than five minutes. With a very hot little package, we ventured across the street to a small but cute park to eat our savoury treat. The gravy was rich but not too dark, and blanketed the fries and large pieces of cheese curd. While it was hot, the curds were softened but not melted. The fries were sweet and hot, and seemed to have been fresh out of the fryer. It was pretty much exactly what you’d expect from an honest-to-goodness poutine purveyor. The Spruce Beer proved to be a good match for it’s salty counterpart, and the spruce flavour cut through the gravy umami in a way that root beer probably wouldn’t have. They made a happy pair, and I imagined that the owner just happened to like this curious, no-frills pop and thought others might, too.
The tray of poutine didn’t take long to disappear, although without having had lunch, my companion and I were still left a bit unsated. From a practical perspective, that’s probably good, because I’m not sure whether poutine should be constituting a full meal, but for the cost it did not seem like much food. Also, I like to think that when it comes to indulgence food, the upper size limit should be of an overwhelming quantity (even if it’s not the best idea to be overwhelming the gut with poutine), or at least enough for two people with to share. The small portion was priced at 5.40$, and given the quantity of a large (about 9$), I think I would have been disappointed with the cost-food ratio of a small.
Overall, I am glad that I ventured out to examine La Belle Patate. It’s refreshing to find a little food shop without pretense. Unfortunately, these out-of-the-way nooks usually make for gems when the food is a delicious bargain, and I’m not sure that it would be worth the time and money to make the journey back out unless in a desperate situation for poutine. Given their removed locale from most Victoria traffic, I think they would do really well to focus in on their poutine aspect and readjust their price points to really entice people. Yet, if you find yourself in the area or feel the need to seek poutine, it’s good to know that it’s there.
La Belle Patate, you’re alright.
(I might note that there appeared to be a 2 for 8 poutine special on Tuesdays… size unknown.)