Susie Church | Food Fight
Poutine from The Gallows and Foundry on Elm
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2013 02:10
This week, I’m featuring a staple of the Québécois diet — poutine. There is much disagreement about how this delicious dish was born, but legend has it that one fine day in 1957 a customer walked into Fernand Lachance’s restaurant in Warwick, Quebec and ordered a handful of cheese curds on some French fries (the gravy was added later to keep the fries warm). Apparently, Lachance replied, “ça va faire une maudite poutine,” (translation: “that will make a damn mess”) giving the dish its name and the people a new obsession. I decided to venture out to two unusual and equally delicious restaurants that serve poutine as one dish on their very diverse menus: The Gallows in Boston’s South End and Foundry on Elm in our very own Davis Square.
Let me start by saying that making it to The Gallows is not for the faint of heart. However, it is undoubtedly a worthwhile adventure. Surprisingly welcoming for the ill-fated name, its cool chrome and wooden décor, friendly wait staff and open, airy dining space make for a great backdrop to the crazy experience of eating there. Reading the menu, I didn’t know whether to be terrified or unbelievably excited: fried chicken with jalapeno jelly and BBQ butter on puffy, moist French toast is only one example of a truly awe-inducing selection. However, I had to stick to my task, and so, simple poutine it was. As the waiter brought out the food, I was both excited and worried. The fries were perfectly golden brown, topped fresh white cheese curds and scallions, but what looked like not enough gravy. Although, after the third bite, all of my fears were happily drowned in a sea of savory bliss. As I dug into the poutine, all of the ingredients blended into a perfect ratio. The gravy had the perfect runny, yet not-too-watery consistency, and the cheese curds were wonderfully fresh. Although the poutine was advertised as an appetizer, it was easily an entire meal. I left The Gallows giddy and fully prepared to go back and experiment more with their unusual combinations.
A few days later, dreaming of cheese (when am I not?) and gravy, I hopped over to Foundry on Elm. Foundry’s warm environment and interesting menu organized by produce and heaviness prefaced another unusual and exciting meal. I ordered, ready to be wowed a second time, but was slightly disappointed when the poutine was served. Significantly smaller than my meal at the Gallows, the Foundry’s poutine was baked with cheddar, bacon gravy and chives. When it comes to poutine, it’s got to be made the original way. No cutting corners. Specifically, no ditching the cheese curds. The cheddar was too heavy and the bacon gravy was hardly gravy at all, with big bacon chunks and no real sauce. As a result, some fries turned soggy from the oil, while others remained dry on the gravy. Truly, it was just too cheesy — even for me. But despite all of my qualms, it did taste good — just too rich and heavy. And most importantly, it wasn’t poutine.
When choosing between glorified cheese fries in Davis and making the trip out to get fantastic, real poutine a moderate commute away, my heart — and stomach — will always go the distance.
Susie Church is a sophomore who has not yet declared a major. She can be reached at Susannah.Church@tufts.edu.