French fries, cheese curds and gravy sounds like some of my favorite food groups. North of the border, Quebec in particular they are combined and given a fancy title called Poutine. This so-called Quebec classic has been getting a lot of publicity lately. In Berkeley, California, ‘Smoke’s Poutinerie’ is a new chain restaurant to open in this non-hipster but possibly aging hippy college town once known as the birthplace of the ‘Free Speech Movement”. We will be visiting Smoke’s Poutinerie for strictly academic purposes to see what all the hub bub is about.
Smokes Poutinerie is located one block off of Telegraph and a stones throw away from the infamous ‘Peoples Park”. This neighborhood is full of restaurants, record stores, head shops, and clothing stores all catering to the college crowd. Smoke’s Poutinerie is a very small shop sandwiched right smack in the middle of all the action. The streets are crowded and so is Smokes. There are no tables but several counters to stand and eat your poutine meal. Smokes offers the traditional poutine of fries, curds and gravy, but also has numerous other toppings to add. Some of these toppings are chicken, pork, beef, and even an all vegetable combination. The prices are low for the college crowd. I found a “Triple Pork” topping which consists of bacon. sausage and pulled pork. The order was placed and almost immediately my number was called to retrieve my meal.
Your order comes in a Chinese style take out box. It is full to the brim of fries and your toppings. I squeezed into a small spot at the counter and dug in. This was an exercise in calorie overload. This Mad Meat Genius has an appetite that can challenge any trencherman and I was put to the test. The fries were hot and fresh. They were drenched in pulled pork with a sweet barbeque sauce. The word sweet needs to be emphasized. The sausage was plentiful and tasty. I could see bacon pieces but the flavor was overshadowed by sweet bbq sauce. The cheese curds added mostly a texture component. They also added to the overall bulking up of this filling caloric bomb of a meal.
Smokes Poutinerie has all the right move to be a success. They are located in a bustling student area. The prices are very reasonable. This was a very filling meal. The food was more than generously proportioned. The flavors were decent. There is a combination on the menu for everyone. I wanted to try some Poutine. I did. It really was not something I would come back for. If I ever was a starving college student again and it was late at night, then by all means Smokes Poutinerie would be my go to spot. Do old hippies turn into new hipsters?
2518 Durant Avenue,
Berkeley, CA 94704