It’s no secret that the Dayton.com staff members are devoted and vocal fans of the Gem City Food Scene. And we noticed something happening last year: the poutine game was growing strong.
The heart attack disguised as the most heavenly invention created by our Northern neighbors in Canada, known colloquially as poutine, was once only available by crossing the border, or in America’s more cosmopolitian eateries. Which was a real shame, because the whole essence of poutine — fries, covered in brown gravy and cheese curds—is a homey, simple dish.
But our local chefs de cuisine know a fantastic dish when they see it, and Dayton's poutine scene now reflects the growing national trend. Some chefs stayed true to the classic recipe; others made select substitutions. But one thing's for sure: all of these dishes will leave you totally content and gloriously full.
Sea Jax Chef Anthony Augustus first tested out a poutine dish in October 2014, and spent the better part of the year tweaking the recipe to a dish that spoke to his personal tastes. Though it started with the traditional fries, gravy, and cheese curds, he took the things he and his customers loved about Sea Jax and turned the poutine into something new, but familiar.
“I took our signature fries, then came up with a good gravy made with au jus and meat drippings from our Philly steak and French Dip meat,” he said. “And everyone loves my shredded cheese fries with Pepper jack, smoked Gouda, cheddar and a little hot pepper, added some top round and caramelized onions. I put it on the menu for two weeks, and it was a big hit.” That’s an understatement; the poutine dish ($12.99) is beloved whether it’s an appetizer split between friends or the main course all by itself.
Corner Kitchen Chef Jack Skilliter said that every version of the new restaurant’s menu included poutine from the beginning. But he had high expectations while crafting the recipe: The fries needed to be thick-cut and substantial enough to stand up to the hearty gravy, while staying crispy. The Ohio Proud Beef brisket, well-marbled but not fatty, is mouth-melting in the homemade gravy.
“For the cheese curds, we struggled finding just the right one, until one day, Susan, one of our gifted kitchen members, simply asked if she could make it,” Skilliter said. She now makes the creamy curds fresh every week. The result? A decadent poutine ($8) that is at once “fun, comforting, and the ultimate dish for a table to share," just what the Skilliters wanted.
Lock 27 Brewing 1035 S. Main St., Centerville | (937) 433-2739 | lock27brewing.com | Facebook | Twitter Hours: Monday-Tuesday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Wednesday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday 11:30 a.m.–12 a.m.; Saturday 12 p.m.-12 a.m.; Sunday 12-9 p.m.
Lock 27’s poutine dish ($10) has been on the menu since 2013, making the establishment one of the first in town to include the savory dish.
“When we opened, we created our menu with the idea of thinking different for Dayton, bringing upscale, scratch-made food to our brewpub,” said owners Michelle and Steve Barnhart, who were inspired to make a poutine dish on a trip to Whistler in Vancouver. “Our chef and his staff take that to the next level each week with our features board. Creative, delicious food and drink in fun environment.”
Treat yourself to hand-cut frites twice fried in the traditional Belgian style, topped with stout beer-braised beef, gravy made from scratch with the pan drippings and cheese curds, with a fried egg on top for an extra dollar (highly recommended).
Lily’s Bistro 329 E. Fifth St. | (937) 723-7637 | lilysbistro.com | Facebook | Twitter Hours: Lunch is Tuesday-Friday 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Dinner is Tuesday-Thursday 5-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 5 p.m.-12 a.m.; Sunday 5–9:30 p.m.
Lily’s Disco Fries Deluxe ($9) give us a reason to rouse ourselves for weekend brunch. They cover hand-cut French Fries with a decadent maple-shallot gravy, smoked Gouda cheese sauce, and an over-easy egg for a perfect hangover cure, or just a perfect indulgence. They're just heavy enough to satisfy our need for rich food after a night out, but without the grease or additives that many other options would have. Again, also a great sharing plate.
What could be better than French Fries, gravy, and cheese curds? How about replacing the fries with tots, and battering the cheese curds with Warped Wing’s own Flyin’ Rye IPA?
Spent Grain Grill set up shop in Warped Wing in late 2015, and the poutine ($8.50) is already a classic hit for the downtown dining crowd. Pair it with one of Warped Wing's signature brews; you won't be sorry.
What’s better than the Dublin Pub’s award-winning pub cheese fries? Taking those thick-cut fries, Applewood smoked bacon, white wine sauce and mixed melted cheeses and adding slow-roasted beef tips and gravy. Do yourself a favor and order the Pub Fries, poutine style ($9.99).
Melt Bar & Grilled
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday
The glorious Hangover Fries at Melt almost flew under our radar. Luckily, we had a caring and sharing Facebook fan who shared with us the glory that is this dish.
See for yourself: fresh hand-cut fries are topped with seared pork belly, mozzarella cheese curds, rich gravy, a fried sunny-side up egg and scallions.