SPOTLIGHT: La Banquise
The Poutine Place To Try in Montreal | Opinion
If you spent your formative years in Montreal a long, long time ago (ok, not that long ago, but before generation iPhone), you likely have nostalgic memories of crowding around a table at La Banquise with your friends, swapping stories and eating the ultimate 4am fare under a cloud of cigarette smoke before climbing the spiral steps to the 3 bedroom apartment you shared with 5 other people.
Thankfully, that smoke cloud is long gone. But La Banquise, open 24 hours, is still the place to be for poutine, any time of day. And still hosts a vibrant late night/early morning crowd of after party-ers.
Breakfast, Bruch, Supper, Dinner and To-Go.
La Banquise originally opened in 1968 as an ice cream shop, but quickly added hotdogs and fries to its menu and extended its opening hours to a full 24. It was in the 80’s that they started serving poutine, with just 2 varieties to choose from. Today, there are over 30 poutine varieties on the menu and it has become a gold standard for “real” poutine. Although who truly serves the best poutine in the city is a favourite and ongoing debate among Montrealers.
But let’s face it. We can debate the best type of fries, the perfect gravy – there’s no debate on the cheese; it’s curds or go home – how long a poutine should sit for ideal cheese melting and gravy absorption… but we all know poutine is not a “good” food. It’s a food you get a mad craving for, scarf down with abandon, usually burn your tongue on, feel horribly bloated from afterwards, and have zero regrets.
But we love it. And La Banquise is a great place for it.
That said, poutine is not the only thing on the menu. For lack of a better term, Banquise’s menu is “gourmet casse-croute”. There is a nice selection of burgers from traditional, to veggie, to burgers topped with goat cheese and apples, a pulled pork burger, the Banquise burger with fried onions and mushrooms and more. You can get a spicy sausage hotdog, jalapeno poppers, spaghetti with meat sauce (if you’re a Quebecer, this won’t surprise you as a menu item), a hot chicken sandwich and more.
They even have a vegan poutine option, serve amazing breakfast all week long and have a selection of craft beers that pair nicely with your veggie dog or T-Rex poutine.
For the past 50 years, La Banquise has been known for truly exceptional casual food. In a city filled with “legacy” restaurants that don’t always live up to the hype and nostalgia, it’s really great to see one that has kept up the quality and service that originally put them on the map.
There is almost always a lineup at La Banquise, but you usually don’t have to wait long, unless you’re with a larger group. Getting it to go is also an option, and with the restaurant’s location right on the edge of Parc Lafontaine, bring a picnic blanket and you have the perfect afternoon setup.