Takeaway Tales: Is Smoke’s Poutinerie as good at home as in the restaurant?
Thanks to a flood of food delivery apps, it’s now easier than ever for the hungry and housebound to order almost any dish from almost any restaurant. But just because you can order something, should you? We’re taste-testing some of the most popular cravings in town to see how the entrees hold up, and how the at-home version compares to the dining-in experience. Along the way, we’re test-driving the apps that bring the dishes to your door. Next up:
What were we in the mood for?
Poutine from Smoke’s Poutinerie, the smart operation that took the staple Quebecois dish, slickly packaged it and franchised the business across North America, with locations from Tampa, Florida to Kamloops, B.C.
What’s the food like in the restaurant?
The menu offers poutine bedazzled with everything from bacon, guacamole, chili, smoked meat, butter chicken, pierogies and peas. I stick with the traditional: french fries, gravy and cheese curds piled into a cardboard box. The fries are crisp. The curds, not fresh enough to squeak, rest on the surface as solid nuggets. The gravy, a brown paint shot through with salt, has no hint of meatiness.
Sold. Now, how was the app’s selection and ordering process?
Once you punch in your address, a page of restaurants pops up, though it’s hard to know which ones actually want to be there based on well-documented complaints about DoorDash delivering orders from establishments without their knowledge. (Bloordale bakery Through Being Cool, for example, was surprised to find itself listed on the delivery service last year, and asked to be removed. The company is pretty open about this practice.) The search pages list time estimates and delivery fees (typically $4.99) for each. The main page is filled with restaurants offering free delivery, possibly because I’m a first-time user. Prices for Smoke’s are marked up: the traditional poutine is 19 percent more expensive, $7.79 in the restaurant and $9.29 here.
How long does delivery take?
DoorDash initially estimates 23 minutes for delivery. Once I place the order, that’s updated to 32-42 minutes. The food shows up in less than 20 minutes.
So how does the delivery version of the food compare?
Oddly, the cheese curds are superior on the second try (a Sunday morning vs. a Wednesday), retaining a friendly, desirable squeak while mostly melting into the salt swamp. The fries, somehow, are stale, but with the three-ingredient dish steam-molded into a wet-potato brick by its time in a sealed box, it’s unlikely that most people will notice. The gravy is exactly as good as it was in the restaurant.
How much did it cost?
$10 with tax and tip at Smoke’s Poutinerie. $12.50 with tax and tip through DoorDash, with free delivery. After this order, I log into the app and I’m no longer being offered free delivery, without which this poutine would be more like $17.50.
The takeaway: is it worth ordering at home?
If you like this food in the restaurant, you won’t be disappointed by the delivery version. It is just as hot, wet and salty. And I found delivery fast enough to preserve much of the food’s integrity, such as it is. Though the price mark-up plus delivery fee nearly doubles the original cost. For this much, you could order a whole pizza.