Unless you’ve been living in a bunker, you’re no doubt aware that McDonald’s poutine has launched across our home and native land. No longer a regional treat only enjoyed on Quebecois menus (like the McLobster), McDonald’s has unleashed poutine and brought it to the masses like only it can. But, is it good?
I fancy myself a bit of a poutine connoisseur and actually had McPoutine in Vancouver back in 2002. I was on a road trip when I stumbled into the Main Street Train Station Mickey D’s and saw it calling my name from the menu. It was a one-meal stand of epic proportions and for 12 years my only comfort was buying a large McDonald’s fries and making my own poutine with them at home. Those sad days are over.
Before I continue with my McReview of McPoutine, I’d like to offer all of our readers a free knowledge drop. Ninety-nine per cent of you are saying poutine wrong. “Poo-teen” is not the correct pronunciation and is also something that you probably don’t ever want to type into a search engine. In order to pronounce our unofficial national dish properly just think of one of the world’s scariest foreign leaders. That’s right, the proper way to pronounce poutine is closer to “poo-tin”, and in Quebec you’ll want to add an S sound, like saying “poot-sin” really fast. Try it. It’s eerily similar to the last name of Russia’s steely-eyed leader and part-time topless model Vladimir Putin.
In honour of Putin’s connection to poutine (and the passing of the torch from Vancouver to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics), I decided to grade McDonald’s poutine on the very scientific Putin scale. I scored the poutine in the only three categories that matter: Fries, Gravy and Curdiness. How many Putin’s did McDonald’s poutine score? Let’s take a look.
McDonald’s fries are the golden standard that all fast-food chains envy. People that hate McDonald’s fries probably also hate rainbows, kittens and happiness. I am not a hater. While I’m not dense enough to think they are the greatest fries ever, they do have a nostalgic goodness to them and when they’re fresh they can be tough to beat. Same goes for McDonald’s poutine. I’ve had it three times already, and three out of three times the fries were perfect. Hot, crispy and fresh, just the way the poutine gods require.
That being said, the best poutines I have had always used top-notch potatoes, and usually thicker, crispier fries as well. And, I love some potato skin with my poutine. Therefore, I can only give the fries four Putin’s out of five. If you happen to order McPoutine and get some stale fries this rating might slip as low as two.
The second component of the poutine triforce is the gravy, and this is probably the McPoutine’s toughest category. Gravy is best when it’s homemade and worst when it comes in a packet and the McDonald’s poutine gravy falls somewhere in between. I will applaud them on making it a chicken-based gravy, which is both the most delicious type of gravy and traditionally accurate. It’s also not too thick and not too runny, another vital poutine characteristic.
Of all three components, it was the weakest. It just tastes a little too “fast food” for me. It also falls quite short of the reigning emperor of fast food poutine gravy, the great chicken gravy of KFC. But it was steaming hot, helped melt the cheese and is still gravy. Three Putin’s out of five.
The final part of the poutine trilogy is arguably the most important, the cheese curds. This is also the area where I was most skeptical as, let’s be honest, McDonald’s cheese slices barely qualify as cheese. However, Ronald and his burger gang realized the importance of cheese curds to any poutine and didn’t disappoint. Not only do you get ample curd coverage, ensuring that the cheesy goodness will be with you till the last bite, but the curds actually taste like real cheese curds! For real, the curds are really good.
I really thought the cheese would be the weak link for McDonald’s poutine but it turned out to be its strongest asset. Once again, cheese wins. Thanks to the quality and amount of cheese curds, I give it five Putin’s out of five.
The verdict is in. The hype is real, the poutine is real. At only an extra $1.50 when added to an Extra Value Meal (or $3.99 on its own), giving McPoutine a try should be a no-brainer for anyone who likes either McDonald’s or poutine. While it’s no Poutineville, I think it’s the perfect type of dish for McDonald’s to add to the Canadian menu and if it serves as an entry-level introduction to poutine for those new to the dish, bring it on. I give McDonald’s poutine four solid Putin’s out of five
Next time you’re near the golden arches, make sure to wear a toque and finish your poutine meal off with a new Maple Crème pie, another addition to McDonald’s Canadian menu (although this one is only for a limited time). Being Canadian is so hot right now. It’s no apple pie but it’s way better than the After 8 pies they trotted out a few months back.
Agree? Disagree? Anyone else have McDonald’s poutine over a decade ago and wonder, why, oh why had Ronald McDonald forsaken us for so long? Have another favourite regional/national McDonald’s item that you loved and wished we had on our Canadian menu permanently? Comment away…