New York is no stranger to the seemingly clandestine combination of french fries, gravy, and cheese. Disco fries migrated to the city from their native New Jersey years ago, and establishments serving the French Canadian version of the dish, poutine, are nothing new. But the opening of TPoutine late last year may just have sealed fries-gravy-and-cheese’s fate as a staple of greasy dining. So, how does the Quebecois mess of a meal stack up next to its American cousin? Inquiring guts wanted to know.
The key to good poutine, as any French Canadian will tell you, is in the cheese curd. The cued must be young — day-fresh, if possible — and is added to the dish as is. Alternatively, the cheese in disco fries is usually of a mozzarella or cheddar-like breed and melted over the fries. Both dishes are made with brown gravy, and both should be built using good, straight-cut fries. We pitted Bark Hot Dog‘s disco fries against TPoutine’s classic poutine in what may be the most uneven match-up in Battle history to date.
Bark’s disco fries, made for a decent side to its tasty hot dogs, but on its own is a disappointing snack. The portion is small for $5.50, and the dish was poorly constructed: paltry, overcooked fries barely daubed in too little gravy, and — worst of all — bland, grainy cheese. The poutine, on the other hand, was made with chunky, crisp fries; an overflowing pool of gelatinous, brown sauce; and big, fluffy, just-melting curds. At $6.75, it left our guts duly busted and our bodies in a bloated, limp state. (The disco fries just left us hungry for another dog.)
Was it a fair fight? When seeing the two dishes side-by-side, one is inclined to say no. And the fact is, pictures don’t lie. The next time we have a hankering for fries smothered in gravy and topped with cheese, we’re going to Quebec — or its nearest poutine embassy.
Bark Hot Dogs
74 Bergen Street, Brooklyn
168 Ludlow Street