McDonald's just recently announced they will start selling it Canada-wide. I'm certainly not doggy-paddling across Lake Erie or driving up to Niagara Falls (about four or five hours from the 'burgh) just to try a big ol' McMess, but I've had poutine a few other times, most notably at a pretty sweet little neighborhood restaurant. Although I'm not the biggest fan, I'd like to think that I have some sort of idea of what poutine ought to taste like, so when Sandy spotted a freezer bag full of Trader Joe's Poutine and put on her "OOOOOOOO PLEEEEEASE" face, well, I guess we just had to try.
silly Chicken Parmypops or whatever they were called, but still. Each individual component kinda underwhelms. There's nothing too special about the fries, but to us they were the standout. They're the big, soft inside, slightly crispy outside type, though I wish they got crispier on the outside to withstand the gravy and cheese curds a little better. The gravy? Meh, which seems to be the norm for TJ's gravy. Those cheese curds though...listen, I may not know any better, so if I offend some cheese curd superfans out there, I apologize in advance. But these were not good. The bag kinda touts them as a "mild cheddar" but the curds are much closer in taste to a fresh mozzarella. That part's okay. The part that isn't is, these are big, rubbery, chewy chunks. The size doesn't bother me as much as the texture. If they were a little softer and creamier, the curds would stand a chance of being fantastic. Instead they just seem like cheese blubber, with emphasis on the blubber. Even my cheese-lovin' toddler tried to eat a little teeny piece, made a face, and spit it out. I wouldn't go that far, but I don't blame her either.
Anyways, as I've stated, although we're not poutine experts, we're underwhelmed. I'd go as far to say that if this were my first experience with poutine ever, I'd be fairly unlikely to try again. That's the blessing and curse of TJ's - they make so many "exotic" dishes so well that when one misses the mark, it seems overly disappointing. If you really want to try poutine, scrounge up a couple extra bucks (TJ's version cost $4, we got "fancy poutine" for $8) and find some on a local menu somewhere, and probably skip the McD's too. Sandy kinda agrees and gave 'em a two, maybe more out of pity than much else. I'll go one and a half.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Poutine: 3.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons