Way back in June 2014 Ursula and I took a similar cruise to this one, except that cruise was neither a reposition down to Florida, nor was it during fall foliage. During that cruise, we experienced for the first time poutine while we were in Montreal. It was a disaster. Soggy, uninspired, grease-laden fries swimming in an insipid brown gravy.
After Montreal on that cruise we hit Quebec with no desire to try poutine again. But after a long trek around Upper Town and then Lower Town, we were rather parched. So we found a café with an outdoor seating area and ordered some drinks.
It was while sitting here, waiting for our drinks, that we saw at a nearby table an entirely different take on poutine, one that was topped with pulled pork. The establishment was Côtes-à-Côtes Resto Grill, and you can read about our first visit at Québec Part 4 — Lower Town for a Poutine Break.
We placed an order despite our first lackluster experience in Montreal, and were pleasantly surprised. The fries were crisp, the gravy flavorful, the cheese curds al dente and tasty, and the pulled pork was an exquisite touch. here’s what that order looked like back in 2014:
Because this experience so changed our mind, we looked forward to hitting once again Côtes-à-Côtes for a repeat. Unfortunately, the outdoor seating area was closed, and the interior was packed with the lunch crowd.
Looking over the menu I decided to begin with a local beer. This one came from a brewpub just up the road in Montreal, La Blanche Cheval Blanc, a Belgian-style wheat. So far, so good.
Alas, the poutine description varied from our previous visit. Rather than pulled pork, the latest poutine offering was topped with duck. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but I’m a sucker for a good pulled pork. Nevertheless, we placed a couple of orders. I probably should have taken a clue from the crowd, but more on that in a moment.
What I’m hinting at is that we should have prepared for disappointment. Today’s poutine was bad, per se. It just wasn’t a good as our first time here. The fries were far from piping hot fresh from the oil, and the duck paled in comparison to the pulled pork of five years earlier. The cheese curds were still quite good, but the gravy seemed lacking in comparison to our previous visit. On reflection, I’m going to give Côtes-à-Côtes the benefit of the doubt and chalk up this latest experience to an overworked kitchen and stressed staff that may have let the poutine sit just a tad longer than it should before delivery to our table.
Back onto the streets for one last look around and two final photos before we finish up with Quebec during this week’s Fun Photo Friday of Quebec favorites: