Not too long ago, the folks at Spud Shack reached out to me over social media and invited me to do a poutine tasting at their store. I timed it after my first half marathon race of the year to maximize the amount I can eat…a girl has to refuel after all. So off I went Sunday to try out some of their new menu options after racing Forerunner’s First Half Marathon (I ran a personal best that day, must be because I knew poutine was coming).
Spud Shack is located on the third floor of the New Westminster skytrain station. Thank god, I don’t live in New West because I would be by every night. Despite their name, they serve more than fries and poutine. They also do burgers, sandwiches and even have a liquor license. The Effin Good Burger is one of their best sellers and comes with smoked Onion Mayo, BBQ Sauce,Tomato Jam, Bacon, Lettuce, Pickle, & Monterey Jack Cheese.
Their bread and butter however remains their fries and poutines. I talked to Owner and Chef Dan Close while I was there (he used to be a Chef at Fairmont Waterfront and at Cactus Club’s test kitchen) and he tells me they go through on average 300lbs of potatoes a DAY. Yes, a day, now that’s impressive! All of Spud Shack’s potatoes and cheeses are locally sourced whenever possible and the fries are all hand cut. Chef Close says the transformation from potato to heavenly deliciousness actually starts the day before; it’s a lengthy process that even involves equipment imported from Belgium to ensure crispy, golden fries.
Speaking of fries, let’s get to the review. The Spud Shack was kind enough to send out quite a few things for us to try and we started off with trying just their fries with three of their dips. Fries are $4 for regular and $6 for a large and dips are $1-$2 each depending on the dip you choose.
On this occasion we tried the andalusia mayonnaise (made by Chef Close), dutch mayonnaise (imported from Belgium) and the curry ketchup. The group agreed that all three were really good, the dutch mayonnaise was beloved by all. It has a tanginess that really stands out and is different from North American mayo. The rest of the group really liked the curry ketchup, but I was impartial to it. My favourite of the three was the andalusia mayonnaise. It has a great smokey flavour that goes well with fries.
Our group also shared a flight of beers which consisted of: Whistler Powder Mountain Lager, Steel & Oak Oatmeal Stout, Steel & Oak Red Pilsner and Moody Ales Brown Ale. The Whistler Lager and the Oatmeal Stout were the crowd favourites and Chef Close tells me the Whistler Lager is their best seller for beer!
Next we moved onto the poutines. Ohhh….the poutines. We had the following:
What? I ran a half marathon, I was hungry! Don’t judge me!
I am not going to mince words, EVERYTHING was delicious.
The real mark of a poutine resturant is their original poutine without all the fancy toppings and Spud Shack makes a fantastic one. The fries are crispy, the sauce is flavourful without being too salty and the cheese is amazing. While the traditional poutine is made with “squeaky” cheese curds that don’t melt, Chef Close told me he had to balance traditional poutine purity with west coast sensibilities. When he first opened his restaurant, he used real Quebecois style cheese curds. Customer complained the cheese wasn’t melting, so he had to switch it up. The result is a cheese that melts but retains some of the structure of the squeaky curds. A good balance, I have to say.
In terms of the specialty poutines, I think the “Night Market” was hands down the standout. It is also new on the menu. Chef Close was inspired when he heard about the Surrey night market on the radio while driving to work. By the time he got to work, he already decided what to include in it and the recipe hasn’t changed since. It is unique and delicious and the textures and flavours work well together. They also don’t skimp on the kimchi or the ginger beef either. Go big or go home when it comes to fun flavours. “The Squealer” is also a good choice if the “Night Market” is too ‘out there’ for you. Tender pulled pork, sweet and smokey BBQ sauce…heavenly.
“The Baked Potato” is a comfort poutine if there is such a thing. With tons of sour cream and generous sprinkling bacon, it reminds me of family dinners. I feel like I can eat this with a side of steak, but hey at least you get it with a glass of wine at Spud Shack!
Thank you Chef Dan Close for the invite! They are so many more poutine options I want to try that I will definitely be back for more. I’ll be back to try the “Jamba”, made with Southern jambalaya with Bacon, Sausage, Shrimp and creole sauce and “The Hero”, made with Italian Meatballs, Tomato Sauce, Cheese Blend, Andalusia Mayo. If you want to try some amazing poutine, Spud Shack is located at:
352-800 Carnarvon Street, New Westminster, BC