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Victoria Dining Guide

Victoria Dining Guide

Wondering where to dine in Victoria? I LOVE trying new restaurants, and I've been compiling my BIG list of favourite eateries for more than a decade. Click the fork-and-spoon image to read my Victoria Dining Guide.

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Victoria’s Best Poutine: Part 2

I continue the saga of Victoria’s best poutine today with part two, a look at the city’s “gourmet” poutine options. (Click here to see part one, my comprehensive write-up on Victoria’s best “classic” poutine.)

The restaurants below offer variations on the holy trinity of fries, gravy, and cheese curds. These dishes are not true poutine in the purest sense, but some find these culinary offerings even more appealing than the original.

I readily admit I have not sampled all the options below. Besides the obvious health risks of eating yet MORE plates of fat- and carb-laden poutine, I generally don’t eat meat, preferring a mainly vegetarian and seafood diet.

So I have relied on the recommendations and reviews of many others to assemble the list below. And because the dishes are so different, it would be like comparing apples to oranges to say which is “best.” Prices, too, vary widely depending on the gourmet ingredients—from smoked meat to duck confit to pulled pork—but you can count on these dishes costing more than classic poutine.

Ultimately, I leave it to you to try the gourmet poutine dishes and choose your own winner. Enjoy!


Poutine with Pulled Pork

  • PIG BBQ JOINT (250-590-5193;, 1325 Blanshard, Victoria, BC. Also Pig Colwood (250-590-8034), Colwood Corners Plaza, Unit 314-1913 Sooke Road, Colwood, BC. NOTE: The tiny hole-in-the-wall location at 749 View has now closed.

Just as La Belle Patate earned the most recommendations for best classic poutine, Pig BBQ Joint was most mentioned in the gourmet category for its Pulled Pork Poutine ($9). Tweets from rainstorm3, Scare_Me and “poutine guru” JasonWhyte lauded the Pig’s poutine, as did many other online reviewers.

“Made with real genuine passion and it tastes that way,” said one online writer about the entire menu at Pig, calling the pulled pork poutine dish “exquisite.”

Another online writer named Janine had this to say after visiting Pig’s Colwood/Langford location in March 2010: “I had to try the pulled pork poutine after having so many recommend it to me. It is filling that’s for sure, but oh so good. The portion size was quite large, too much for one person in my opinion. Never-the-less great value for the money.”

I reviewed the plain poutine at Heron Rock very favourably in my earlier article on Victoria’s best classic poutine. The bistro also offers Pulled Pork Poutine: $14.

Poutine with Curry Sauce

  • BENGAL LOUNGE, FAIRMONT EMPRESS HOTEL (250-384-8111; website), 721 Government Street, Victoria, BC.

You know poutine has really arrived in Victoria when you see it on the menu at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. In fact, the Empress did much to raise the profile of poutine citywide back in May 2010 when their head chef challenged the head chef at the neighbouring Inn at Laurel Point to a public “Poutineoff.”

The gourmet entry from the Empress was Tiger Poutine, a combination of French fries, cheese curds, and sauce from the signature butter chicken curry served in the hotel’s Bengal Lounge. This luxuriously rich concoction triumphed over the Duck Poutine created by the opposing chef, who topped his fries and curds with crispy duck confit and jus.

Bengal Poutine ($13) is now a permanent fixture on the Bengal Lounge menu.

  • MOM’S CAFE (250-642-3314;, 2036 Shields Road, Sooke, BC.

Customers have been flocking to this Sooke diner for home-style cooking and pies for as long as I’ve lived in Victoria. I dont’ know anything more about the poutine than what MariaLironi shared with me on Twitter: “Mom’s Cafe in Sooke has some amazing poutine. Curry sauce & 3 kinds of cheese. Yum yum!”

Poutine with Duck

On the subject of duck poutine, the Veneto Lounge’s version earned a rave online review on the Eating Victoria blog. Here’s an excerpt:

“The poutine featured a hefty portion of duck, molten cheese curds (squeaky cheese), and a sherry thyme jus. The poutine was massive, served in a piping hot bowl. I’ve never eaten a poutine where the cheese curds were evenly melted; I appreciated how the chef accomplished this. The duck had good flavour and there was a lot of it. The only thing I can fault with this was the sherry thyme jus. I loved the taste of it, but after a while, as our meal went on, the jus condensed with the temperature. So near the end, it had turned into almost a syrup, albeit sticky and delicious.”

I reviewed the plain poutine at Heron Rock very favourably in my first article on Victoria’s best classic poutine. The bistro also offers “divine” Duck Poutine ($16), according to one online foodie.

Poutine with Fish

The Spicy Pacific Fish Poutine at Red Fish Blue Fish really pushes the margins on what can truly be called poutine. But so many people raved that the dish is “delicious” and “really delivers on awesomeness,” I had to try it.

The fries at the base of the dish were first rate. The topping is a blend of mildly spiced, Ocean Wise white fish that I can best describe as a lightly breaded fish mulch, with occasional whole bite-sized pieces. The flavour is very good, enhanced by the sauce, which is a creamy Thousand Island-like dressing. It’s a tasty concoction, but without cheese curds or gravy, really isn’t poutine.

One online writer gives some valuable advice on the Spicy Pacific Fish Poutine: “The only small suggestion I will give is to share a half order of the poutine. It is heavy food and a half order is more than enough.” I’d say that applies to the small order ($6) and I can’t even imagine tackling the large ($9).

If we allow that fish with creamy sauce over fries can be called a gourmet poutine, I might as well throw in moules et frites—the classic French dish of fresh steamed mussels over fries in a seafood broth. You can find that tasty option on the menu at both Brasserie l’Ecole and Heron Rock Bistro.

Poutine with Beef

  • HERON ROCK BISTRO (250-383-1545;, 435 Simcoe Street, Victoria, BC.

Aside from its excellent plain poutine (see review here), Heron Rock also makes a Steak Poutine with Angus Beef ($16).

  • LA BELLE PATATE (250-220-8427), 1215 Esquimalt Road, Victoria, BC.

One of the top purveyors of classic poutine (see review here), La Belle Patate also offers Poutine with Beef & Jalapenos (regular $8, medium $10, large $12).

Poutine with Smoked Meat

  • LA BELLE PATATE (250-220-8427), 1215 Esquimalt Road, Victoria, BC.

With more varieties of poutine on its menu than any other restaurant, La Belle Patate also makes Poutine with Smoked Meat (regular $7.40, medium $9.60, large $10.80). While the term “smoked meat” can bring Quebec loyalists to fisticuffs (is it smoked meat, corned beef, or pastrami?), the chunks of meat is this version earn raves for leanness, tenderness, and complexity of smoke and spice in the flavour.

Poutine with Bacon

I haven’t tried the Irish Poutine at the Irish Times Pub, the menu description definitely entices: “Fresh cut fries topped with Irish bacon, crumbled blue cheese, local cheese curds, and our rich house-made gravy.” My friend Simon sampled the dish and said he wasn’t crazy about it—but he also admitted he’s not a fan of blue cheese, a strong flavour that is guaranteed to permeate the dish.

  • FLYING OTTER GRILL (250-414-4220), 950 Wharf Street, Victoria, BC

On Twitter, BlitzCraig make it clear that what he likes about the poutine at the Flying Otter Grill: “FOG poutine has bacon! Mmmmm . . . bacon . . . My Honey liked the real bacon bits crumbled over the dish, too, though as I wrote in my earlier review, I think I’d actually prefer it with just the three key ingredients, since all were excellent in the Flying Otter Grill’s poutine.

Poutine with Chicken

  • LA BELLE PATATE (250-220-8427), 1215 Esquimalt Road, Victoria, BC.

So far as I know, La Belle Patate is the only Victoria restaurant to offer poutine with chicken. It has two varieties, each available in three sizes: Chicken Poutine (regular $7.40, medium $9.60, large $10.80) and a dish called Galvaude—poutine with chicken with peas (regular $7.70, medium $10, large $11.30).

Vegetarian / Vegan Poutine

  • CABIN 12 (250-590-1500), 607 Pandora Ave, Victoria, BC.

I love Cabin 12 for providing a Vegan Poutine option. I’m not a big fan of soy cheese myself, though I do like miso gravy when it’s made well. I have only two reviews to draw on to judge the quality, one pro, one a tad conditional. While VicTriviaQueen reported on Twitter that “Cabin 12 does a very good veggie poutine,” a review on Yelp had some caveats: ““I also tasted the Vegan Poutine, which made way too much use of gravy and had a flavor heavy on the Miso. With a thicker, less soupy gravy and crispier fries, this would be delicious, but I think they still need to work on the execution of this dish.”

I have ordered the vegetarian Good Morning Poutine ($7.95) at Lady Marmalade, and I loved it—though it conforms to almost none of the classic poutine rules. This dish consists of crispy baked hashbrowns (the real thing) intermingled with the sharp tang of small bits of aged white cheddar (not curds), and is topped with an excellent miso gravy—or, if you prefer, a tomato-orange cream sauce. Personally, I’d like a little more cheese flavour, but it’s a small quibble: the dish is delicious. Note: it is not available on weekends, when the busy kitchen staff can’t give it the slow oven-baking it requires.

Last Words

Most of us pronounce the word poutine incorrectly, as “poo-teen.” It’s more properly spoken as “poo-tin.” For a demonstration, click here for an audio clip with the correct pronunciation.

Related Post: Best Poutine in Victoria, BC. A Poutine Lover’s Bible: Part 1

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4 comments to Victoria’s Best Poutine: Part 2

  • Mark

    The GM of the Empress needs to be credited for his vision and creativity. He is the one that has put fun back on the menus in town. Way to go Bengal and Empress. Quite the leader.

  • Matt

    Also Irish Times also has a Seafood Poutine.

  • anitabean

    Thanks very much for the tip on the seafood poutine at the Irish Times. Have you tried the dish? I’d be interested to hear what’s in it, and what you thought of the taste!

  • […] were so many good options, I had to break down the article into two parts: best regular poutine and best gourmet poutine. The latter features restaurants which shake up the traditional three ingredients — French […]

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