Reviews and Such Restaurants

Smoke’s Poutinerie – Exchange

I’ve been checking up on places reopening, as well as looking back at some places that I first reviewed several years ago. Smoke’s Poutinerie in Winnipeg’s Exchange District is one place that I haven’t really been to since I first wrote about(I think I’ve stopped in to buy a canned drink once or twice.

Currently, Smoke‘s is only open for pickup and delivery. Stopping in yesterday, there is no sign indicating when dining in will be an option. 

Smoke‘s logo
You see the Smoke‘s logo everywhere you turn in the restaurant.

Yesterday I decided to finally pay a return visit. The one thing that stood out for me from my previous visits, is that the toppings went on cold and the poutine itself ended up the same way.

Smokes dining
The dining pace is currently used for potato storage.

I ordered the Korean Beef Poutine. This dish features flat-iron steak, sambal, green onions, and Korean BBQ sauce. The dish manages to capture quite well, the qualities of Korean beef along with traditional poutine. The flavours are all quite good, and unlike the efforts of a few years back, the gravy is quite a bit better, and the whole dish is substantially warmer. I am far more likely to stop in again in the future.

Service is smooth and efficient. With the seating inside closed I needed to find a place to sit down. Fortunately there are a few picnic tables by the side of the Red River Paterson Global Foods building. All of the picnic tables that are generally scattered around the space occupied by The Cube are currently in storage. 

Korean beef poutine
The Korean Beef makes for a tasty and satisfying meal.

Smoke’s Poutinerie

Yesterday I wrote about visiting Kimchi Cafe during the Fringe.  Another place I revisited during the festival was Smoke’s Poutinerie.  This restaurant is right by the festival stage a.k.a. the cube. In addition to the tables inside, there are a few outside, along with a couple of picnic tables.  Here you can sit down, eat, and watch a show all at the same time.

Smoke’s is a chain, and it landed in Winnipeg a couple of years ago or so, with a great deal of hoopla.  Generally speaking I don’t think that the food is worthy of the hoopla. One thing that Smoke’s does really well is portion size and value.  Most of the dishes are between $7.49 and $7.99.  You can “wow” size you dish for another $3.00, but I found that more food than I can eat.  Smoke’s “wow” size is a great bargain if you’re looking to share a dish.

On the other hand the poutine itself is rather ordinary.  It does have the advantage of coming with a wide variety of toppings,  However, the gravy for one, is not particularly flavourful.  Plus, it’s not particularly hot.  This means that the cheese, which is in curd form, never really melts, and you find yourself eating lumps of cheese.  If takes some of the fun out of eating poutine, when the cheese isn’t stringy.

The ingredients for the various toppings at Smoke’s are all quite fresh.  However, they seem to come straight from the fridge onto the fries.  This again has the effect of cooling down the overall temperature of the dish.

On the whole I’d say that if you are looking for the best poutine around, you won’t find it at Smoke’s.  However, as a fast food option, Smoke’s is not a bad choice.  The food, while not inspiring is reasonably tasty, and with quick service you’ll find yourself fueled up and back out enjoying you day in the Exchange in no time.

By Donald McKenzie

Anglican priest, and food blogger. This blog is focused on Food. It will feature reviews of places to eat books, and the odd recipe. I also write about what it means to gather together around food.