Monday, September 7, 2015

Q-tine

I have to admit that I am a fan of poutine.  Poutine, for those that aren't familiar, is comfort food that originated in Canada and, at the most basic level, consists of French Fries topped with Cheese Curds and Brown Gravy.  While it is generally thought of low food, there are several gastropubs in the Chicago area that offer their upscale versions of it, and there was a restaurant, in Chicago, Badhappy Poutine, that has unfortunately since closed, whose menu contained several different types of poutine.  Now, there is a restaurant in my neighborhood that combines poutine with another food with low origins, barbecue.  Q-tine is a restaurant that combines poutine and barbecue, both literally with dishes combining the two dishes, and figuratively with a menu that features both poutine and barbecue.  The restaurant plays up the low origins of these foods by building the order counter out of an old Airstream trailer.  They are also located amidst several popular bars and remain open late to cater to the late night after bar crowd.  
The space is narrow with steel tables and brick walls, one of which is emblazened with an elaborate and faded sign reading Memphis Meets Montreal, noting the hearts of the respective cuisines.  The trailer counter is at the rear of the restaurant. The condiment table follows the low end/retro theme as it is built out of a trailer that might be found being pulled behind an Airstream Trailer.  While much of the restaurant is decidedly retro, there are a few things that are definitely high tech.  The cash register that the counter service uses is a tablet and the menu looks like a huge (about 7 feet by 4 feet) vertically mounted computer screen.
On the menu, you can order barbecue with the standard sides (beans, cole slaw, cornbread) or one of 12 different types of poutine.  You can also though, substitute a Classic Poutine (Fries, Cheese Curds, and Brown Gravy) for the other sides that you would normally get with a barbecue order.  This is the way that I went because, with a restaurant featuring barbecue and poutine, I wanted to try both.  I ordered a Half Rack of Baby Back Ribs, the Classic Poutine, and a Deep Fried Snickers Bar to finish things.  The ribs had the sauce roasted on, but you could get more to add more from the condiment table.  The sauce was slightly sweet with a peppery finish.  There is an argument in the barbecue world about how tender the meat should be.  It shouldn't be fall off the bone tender, but how much pull should it have is the argument.  The rib meat tasted good (as did the sauce), but the ribs were a little stiffer than I normally like.  The Classic Poutine was very flavorful with enough gravy to coat everything, but not enough to leave it swimming.  I am always a little nervous, when I get a standard poutine, because I have had some really bland gravy and cheese curds on unsalted fries.  This was not the case here and it was very good.  The Deep Fried Snickers Bar, a county fair standard, was decadent.  It had a light shell sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with caramel.  The Snickers Bar inside was melted.  It was sweet and gooey with all of the flavors you would expect from a Snickers Bar:  Chocolate, Peanuts, Caramel, and a Peanut Butter Nougat.  It could potentially have been very messy, but I made sure to eat it carefully and enjoyed it a lot.  Located around several popular bars, I don't imagine that it will have a hard time maintaining business and it is definitely a place that I will return to when I have an urge for comfort food.     
     

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