Can a poutine in Canmore taste as good as one from Montreal? The short answer is I don’t have a clue because I have never had poutine in Montreal, but when authentic Quebecois fill an industrial park restaurant on a Saturday, I think the answer is it can be pretty close.
La Belle Patate is a chic little fast food joint specializing in authentic French Canadian delights. From Montreal Smoked Meat, to Steamies, to Poutine with cheese curds that actually squeak when you chew them, La Belle’s food is simply the best you will find outside of Montreal. The french tourists that come from far and wide will verify this for you if you don’t believe me. Our visit on Saturday was flanked by no less than two large groups of Quebecois, all clambering for a taste of home with a little taste of Rocky Mountain beauty thrown in. If you have read any of Anthony Bourdain’s books you will know that the best places to eat in a foreign country are where the locals eat. Well in La Belle’s case the locals have traveled across the continent, and this is where they are eating.
While I would not normally go on a John Gilchrist style rant about the owners and their story, believing that you can tell a lot more about the owners from their food than you can about the food from the owners, it is hard not to mention former Montrealer John Lott who’s passion for food rivals anyone I have met. Lott’s eyes light up as he describes a “Montreal Style” steamie consisting of a hot dog, on a steamed bun with onions, relish, and cold slaw. I understood his passion after biting into the most delicious, fall apart good hot dog I have ever tasted. The bun melted in my mouth as perfectly combined sweetness, tartness, and sour took over any subsidiary thought processes I may have been having. I never thought such a thing possible from a basic hotdog of all things.
La Belle’s poutine was even better, the perfect mix of hand cut fries, squeaky cheese curds, gravy, bacon, and onion. Even with the addition of poutine to many of Calgary’s high end restaurant menus, none have been as delightful of an experience as this basic authentic creation severed in a tin pie plate.
La Belle Patate becomes the second restaurant in the last week to make our “restaurants we like” list. Do you know of any places that serve great French Canadian food? Poutines? Montreal Smoked Meat? Steamies? Leave them in the comment section below so we can compare.
What we liked
- A passion for food
- Squeaky cheese curds
- The best hotdog I have ever had
What we didn’t like
- It is a shame that the restaurant isn’t in a more accesible location – however, this is a place worth looking for!