If you're looking for a hearty, stick-to-the-ribs hangover cure, look no further than a nice, hot plate of poutine. The Canadian classic post-bar snack hasn't quite taken roots in the Valley yet, but a few local spots like Petite Maison and Rose & Crown offer the dish for the culinarily curious. Poutine is basically just French fries smothered in brown gravy with cheese curds on top, but there are many variations around town too. For this battle, we stacked up a classic, straightforward take on poutine from Beaver Choice against Welcome Diner's more unique take.
In This Corner: Beaver Choice
The Setup: The Scandinavian and Polish restaurant specializes in all things comfort food with a distinct North and East European twist. After moving to a new location from Tempe to Mesa this year, Beaver Choice got stylish new digs but still serves the same schnitzels, Swedish meatballs and golabki as before. The Arizona by way of Sweden by way of Poland owner still dishes out all of the essentials of her former homelands, including the standard plate of poutine.
The Good: If you're a poutine enthusiast, this is exactly what you'd expect to get when you order the dish--crisp on the outside, soft of the inside fries covered in smooth beef gravy and topped with local, fresh cheese curds. It's simple and straightforward. Plus, you can choose how much poutine you want with rarely offered sizes. If you're anything like us, you'd pick a large anyways, but it's nice to have the option.
The Bad: While the poutine is a typical take on the dish, it is pretty basic. We've found that the heartiness of the dish's essential ingredients often benefits from chopped scallions or chives to add a nice herby and bright flavor kick. Without a bit of freshness, the dish is just an undeniably heavy plate of fried potatoes, gravy and cheese.
In The Other Corner: Welcome Diner
The Setup: On the other side of the comfort food spectrum, there's Welcome Diner--the downtown Phoenix ultra-hip, yet homey, diner and patio that serves up some of the best Southern cooking in the Valley. Fried chicken biscuit sandwiches, catfish dinner specials and red beans and rice represent the South in a way the Phoenix food scene desperately needed. Plus that peanut butter and bacon burger is a total knockout. But how does the Welcome Diner style poutine stack up against Beaver Choice?
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The Good: Found under the "shared fries" plates along with BBQ pulled pork fries and cheddar bacon fries, the poutine is an $8 plate stacked with "Welcome" fries, country gravy with sausage and melted cheddar cheese. All of the components of Welcome Diner's poutine are great alone. The homemade pork sausage is spicy and compliments the creamy country gravy perfectly. The fries are rustic, skin-on and salty. The cheddar is sharp and melty. Somehow it just doesn't work for us though.
The Bad: Maybe we're just being poutine purists, but country gravy is not what we want when we order poutine. While it's great on their buttery, flaky biscuits, it just doesn't compliment fries like classic brown gravy does. Plus $8 is a steep price to pay for drunk food.
And the winner is... Beaver Choice. While Beaver Choice could've used a little more pizzazz in their poutine, the classic approach wins out over Welcome Diner's country gravy topped poutine. Trust us, we're as surprised as you.