Best Poutine - 2013
By The Dapper Diner Poutine, the eastern Canadian equivalent of In-N-Out's animal-style fries, is a pile of thin- to medium-cut french fries crispy enough to withstand a ladle's worth of brown gravy, on which a generous serving of crumbled cheese curds are dropped, melting slightly from the heat of the fries and gravy. It is the 2 a.m. greasy bar food for which you would kill your best friend. It is the salty and satisfying snack that tastes like ambrosia as you shove it down your gullet, drunk in a smelly, sticky-floored bar while Rush's Greatest Hits plays. It is the regret that punches the inside of your stomach when you wake up the next morning. After extensive research, here are our favorite examples of it in San Francisco. Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen Jasper's attacks poutine in an interesting way: by giving you choices. Offered on their "Fries Menu," diners can choose between thin cut, thick cut, and sweet potato fries. The choose-your-own-poutine adventure doesn't end there, as you can season the fries with sea salt; smoked paprika; garlic, salt, and pepper; or truffle, parmesan, and herb. Lastly, there are the actual poutine options of topping the fries with brown gravy with mushroom, smoked cheese fondue, or a "chef's choice," which is similar to a salsa topping. In a traditional-enough version with thin fries seasoned with sea salt and topped with brown gravy and mushrooms, the fries were crisp and nicely cooked, and the salty beef gravy was a nice thickness. Sauce on Belden Place Nestled on an alleyway reminiscent of France, Sauce serves what's probably the closest to the simple, traditional poutine you can find in San Francisco. It's served with a chicken-based gravy that's peppery, salty, and the right thickness to both cover the fries and soak through the pile of them. The mild heat of the gravy is a welcome addition to an S.F. summer's cooler weather. Sauce also garners bonus points for layering some of the mozzarella curds between the warm french fries, while placing another layer on top. Because at the end of a long day, having gooey cheese covering as many fries as possible can be a very good thing. Wayfare Tavern Switching from an off-the-menu item to an on-the-menu item depending on the day, the Wayfare Tavern's poutine builds on its terrific french fries by adding various types of gravy depending on what's available in the kitchen. One night, the kitchen used braised lamb neck and mirepoix for the gravy, which gave some texture and bolstered the gravy's flavor. The mozzarella curds are melted on top of the dish, making it resemble a snowcapped mountain of fries. Much-maligned truffle oil is often drizzled on the fries to add an extra oomph in flavor, but during truffle season the poutine comes with shaved truffles to accompany the oil. Rumor has it Tyler Florence has plans to make the poutine available year-round, swapping out ingredients to make it seasonally appropriate, such as using oxtail or fava beans. Citizen's Band A base of crispy fries topped with a brown, umami-rich wild mushroom gravy, the Citizen's Band poutine is generous in size and flavor. While the gravy's flavor is reminiscent of an earthier version cream of mushroom soup, it has a perfect medium consistency and pairs nicely with the massive pieces of delicate, melt-in-your-mouth pork belly that tip this from the realm of a snack to a full-on course that will sate your hunger. The soft cheese curds are made in-house using the magic of milk and citric acid, and the whole thing is covered with a light shaving of pecorino.Per DiemThis poutine is the best of the bunch, centered around fries that are cooked slightly more than the restaurant's regular fries, allowing them to stand up better to the oxtail gravy. The rich gravy is thickened by the meat's collagen and fat, and is good enough to eat alone, with little tender shreds of meat adding a depth of flavor. It manages to straddle the line between being too thin and runny and too thick and gelatinous; it's able to move between the fries to coat various layers in the fry pile, but it also does not migrate completely to the bottom of the serving dish. The crumbled curds come from Petaluma's Achadinha Cheese Company and soften the heat of the dish while still retaining a nice squeak when bitten.