Read Queenedix’s BBQ Bus critique here.
In cities across the globe, you need only peek out your hotel room after midnight to see throngs of people emerging from noisy discotheques, smoky speakeasies, and raucous dive bars and flocking to the nearest late-night eatery. In Bangkok, you can chase papaya salad and spicy noodles with a Singha as two Muay Thai fighters batter each other beyond recognition in a nearby ring. You can stumble away from your fifth litre of beer in Germany and sober up with a döner kebab. In New York, a slice of pizza is always just around the corner (I highly recommend Artichoke Basille’s, which tops crusty pizza with warm artichoke dip. Zantac sold separately). The fact is, I love late-night local eats, but one city’s signature dish has eluded me for years despite hearing countless stories about it: poutine.
Why poutine? And why haven’t I tried it? First of all, it combines two food items I love most: Cheese, and gravy. I love gravy. I love everything about it. If it were socially acceptable to order gravy like a milkshake, I would consider doing so. I first heard about poutine from a (male) friend who had traveled to Montreal for a (bachelor) party. He insisted that after a “quiet” night with friends at one of Montreal’s famous (strip) clubs, the poutine he tried was among the greatest things he had ever eaten. I was intrigued. Something that could soak up the hefty alcohol content of a Canadian lager AND absolve the guilt one must inevitably feel after watching women gyrate on poles for CAD$2 coins? Given that I myself couldn’t travel to Canada to replicate the experience, my ongoing fascination drove me to Eat Wonky for this week’s review.
Eat Wonky focuses on just a few menu items—poutine, the Wonky dog (a hot dog covered in poutine), a cheese curd grilled cheese sandwich, plain fries or hot dog, and whoopee pies. After sampling their food several times, alone and with friends, I’d say the truck’s appeal lies mainly in its unique focus and not in its food.
Continues after the jump.
The poutine has its highs and lows. Eat Wonky’s gravy is flavorful and peppery
thanks to good seasoning. I have been told that most poutine in Montreal has
instant gravy, so hold this criticism only as a personal preference. Give the cheese
curds a minute or two to melt into the mix, and they are an added bonus—salty and
creamy without threatening to drip onto your shirt. I also liked them in the grilled
cheese sandwich, which has pepper flakes for a kick—the end result is a similar
texture to American cheese, but way more satisfying.
Unfortunately, this is where the enthusiasm ends. All three times I tried the french
fries (once on the dog, once on poutine, and once plain), they were soft, bordering
on soggy, tasting more of grease than anything. Twice, they weren’t even warm.
They need to be cooked longer and reach a crispier exterior to hold up to what
covers them. The Wonky dog is a monster, tasty but difficult to eat—and the bun
and fries, both soft to begin with, became mush within minutes of being served
because of the heavy toppings. The hot dog is good, but in a city whose signature
dish is a half-smoke covered in chili and toppings, the Wonky Dog would benefit
from a toasted bun or some grill marks. Cheese curds, gravy, soft fries, boiled hot
dog, and soft bun just didn’t taste good by the end—soft and cold.
I would definitely recommend indulging in some poutine as the locals do—late
at night after a few beers when you need something salty and savory to get you
through the night (stale cigarette smoke and body glitter are optional). I would also
love to dig into a Wonky dog, hold the fries, as I think the combination would be
great. But if you plan on working a full afternoon in a cramped, overheated office
after a food truck lunch, I would steer away from Wonky—this one is going to stick
with you for a while.