By Dan Malone
Since opening on October 31 of last year, Smoke’s Poutinerie on Blowers Street has had a good deal of success serving the traditional Québécois dish to a Halifax audience.
Smoke’s is a Toronto-based chain, and the Halifax location is its first on the East Coast. Another is set to open in St. John’s this spring.
“It’s (Blowers Street) a perfect location for this type of food,” says store manager Robbie Perkins. “We’ve got a good office clientele, we get the lunchtime crowd, and then we also have the bar crowd in the evenings.”
To accommodate the bar crowd, which is so heavy Perkins estimates they sell 120 poutines in just an hour, Smoke’s stays open until 5 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, and 3 a.m. on Thursdays. The small store, which has seating for only twelve people in the dining area, often has lines out the door on Friday and Saturday nights.
“It’s the perfect food for when you’re drinking,” explains Perkins.
The company website claims Smoke’s is the first restaurant in the world to offer a broad menu comprised exclusively of poutine. The menu has 23 different poutines, ranging from the traditional gravy, fries, and cheese curds to the colossal triple pork: a standard poutine with bacon, sausage, and pulled pork on top.
John Bury discusses his taste in poutine
“It strikes a perfect balance,” says Smoke’s customer John Bury. “The thing is, you don’t want the toppings to overwhelm the poutine, but at the same time, you don’t want the poutine to overwhelm the toppings. It’s a real delicate balance.”
Bury, who comes from Cape Breton, had never been to a restaurant entirely dedicated to poutine before visiting Smoke’s, and had only once eaten what is considered the traditional poutine. While he has a preference for shredded cheese over the traditional curds, he says that for the style Smoke’s serves, curds work best.
Before the store opened, there was concern from commenters on local message boards as to whether it would be viable with Willy’s, (winner of Best Poutine in the Coast’s Best of Halifax survey) which is located on the opposite side of the street. Despite the esteemed competition, Smoke’s has still managed to be successful.
“I’ve been in this business all my life, and it still blows me away how much food gets pumped out of this little store,” says Perkins.