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On Hangover Poutine and the kind of Greasy Spoon that Never Judges

On Hangover Poutine and the kind of Greasy Spoon that Never Judges

While many have tried to dress up Poutine—adding maple bacon, duck confit or even avocado—this hangover food remains best eaten with no pretense. Which is why, when I seek the familiar squeak of a cheese curd, I head to Esquimalt institution La Belle Patate. 

La Belle Patate is run by Mathieu Lott (“Chef Matty”), a former Montréaler, so you know it has to be good. The poutine comes served in an aluminium to-go container, and the bed of hand-cut fries is topped with fresh cheese curds and heaped with gravy. Add smoked meat to bump up your calorie intake and you’ll be full for hours. Or make it a side of poutine, served alongside steamies (a.k.a steamés, Montreal hot dogs) or a classic burger. Grab a spruce beer (“Tastes like Christmas,” says the girl behind the counter) to wash it all down. 

It’s not just the poutine that demands your attention. The decor, a 1970s-inspired diner meets hole-in-the-wall, is just the kind of place that both adds to, and doesn’t detract from, the food. The restaurant is small: there are only 10 stools and the place is painted in now-peeling shades of yellow and red. Stickers adorn the range hood while framed hockey jerseys hang next to the Québec flag. One lone plastic table sits square in the middle of the restaurant with battered chairs tossed slightly askew. Framed portraits of the regulars hang above one counter, each proudly displaying their own poutine variation (all of which are available on the menu).

It’s the kind of greasy spoon that never judges. It never questions your choice of Sunday morning attire or the frequency that you happen to swing by. It’s a place that makes everyone feel welcome, including the small but present francophone community in Esquimalt (CFB Esquimalt brings in many Québecers), where on busy nights you may just hear French being spoken over shared plates of poutine.  

I’ll leave my love for poutine—in this case, La Belle Patate’s—with these words by the late, great Anthony Bourdain: “You know you shouldn’t be doing it, but it feels so damn good.” 

Shayd Johnson photo.

La Belle Patate
1215 Esquimalt Rd., Victoria

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