As a self-proclaimed poutine maven, I’m a little ashamed that it took me so long to try Wendy’s offering. I’m always keen to try the fast-food giants’ efforts to see if they match up with the really good stuff served up at smaller restaurants, so what took me so long? I dunno – maybe it’s just been too warm out to eat poutine? Yeah, right. Like it’s ever too warm for that.
The biggest challenge with producing mass quantities of poutine is avoiding making it too salty, while the danger on the flip side is blandness. Wendy’s poutine comfortably straddles the middle – it’s neither too salty, nor flavourless. The gravy is beefy-ish and gives it a solid earthy taste.
That said, it’s probably the most remarkable of the three ingredients, with both the fries and cheese curds decidedly middle of the road. The chain made a big deal a little while back about going “natural” with its fries – they have potato skin and sea salt on them now – but honestly, I haven’t been able to tell much of a difference, they’re still meh. The curds, meanwhile, are perhaps the least important ingredient. I’m sure some gourmets would disagree, but as long as they’re not hard and stale it’s hard to tell one batch from another.
The downside of Wendy’s poutine is the serving size and price. The chain is selling it as a $3.99 side dish, which is a bit steep for the amount you get. It’s certainly not big enough to act as a standalone meal, unlike what you can get at New York Fries or Smoke’s for about $2 more. Indeed, the basic poutine at both those chains is better in terms of value and taste.
As such, I wouldn’t make Wendy’s restaurants a destination for poutine, despite the company’s attempt to install it as Canada’s national dish through a “poutition,” but it’s certainly not something that should be avoided if you do find yourself in one.