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We’ve done a lot of investigating on Toronto’s poutine — from the delightful bowl at Pantry to the bio-degradable deep container at Poutini’s — but sometimes you gotta go right to the source. Poutine was born in the province of Quebec so while in Montreal we made sure to hit up two spots known for this signature dish. Our first stop was the hilariously named Frite Alors!

This Belgian-style chain of restaurants has eight locations and a dizzying array of poutine choices and sauces. I stuck with the traditional, which here was called La Vladimir (petite $6.50, regular $8.50). The cheese curds were extremely squeaky (meaning they squeak when rubbed against your teeth — a highly desirable trait of good poutine) and the gravy was flavourful and rich. While I took my order to-go, the bistro’s ambiance was casual, friendly and everyone looked like they were having a great time.

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To get us to the next poutine location, we headed to the nearest Bixi bike system. This is a fabulous invention that I wish existed in Toronto. It’s a public bike system with tons of bike stations situated all over the city. You simply use your credit card and pay $5/day for an unlimited number of 30-minute rides on one of their bikes. Just grab a bike, ride, then drop it off at another station near you destination. If you use the bike for more than half-an-hour at a time, there’s an additional charge. However, if you’re sightseeing in the city and making multiple stop-and-go trips (like visiting St. Viateur Bagel, Schwartz’s for smoked meat or doing some shopping), this is the way to go. The bike system is operational from May to November and stations will be completely removed for the winter on Nov. 30.

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My Bixi bike took me straight to La Banquise (994 Rachel East), another poutine spot that’s on the top of many lists. They must be doing something right because it’s open 24 hours and has been serving poutine since the ’80s.

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La Banquise offers 25 different types of poutine, including a Pizza, Mexican and T-Rex Poutine (featuring minced meat, pepperoni, bacon and smoked sausages!). We went fancy with the Dance Poutine (regular $8.35, grande $12.95) that was topped with chicken, onions, bacon and pepper sauce. Believe it or not, this plate was the was the smaller portion. I have to admit, we ordered wrong. All the flavours were competing with each other and it felt like a messy pile of mush. I hate to say this, but this poutine was lost on me. I learnt a valuable lesson at La Banquise. Sometimes it’s best to stick with the traditional.

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Frites Alors / 1710 St. Denis, Montreal & other locations
514 658 5522 / Sun-Thurs 11:30am-11pm, Fri & Sat 11:30am-4am

La Banquise / 994 Rachel East, Montreal
514 525 2415 / Open 24 hours

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