Frites is a chain of stores specializing in authentic Belgium fries and poutine. Frites already has two successful locations based out in Ontario, and only recently has Frites made the jump to opening up a store in Vancouver.
Located on Granville street by the entertainment district, Tony, the store owner of this Vancouver Frites, couldn’t have picked a more attractive location – who doesn’t want fries and poutine after a long night of partying? (Q: but what about us folks who are now too old for the clubbing/partying scene? Haha)
The space is pretty cozy – lining the space are bar stools and a long thin table. The neat thing about this table is that there are cutouts specifically made so that you can put your cone of fries in the middle. (Q: it is neat however it also limits the number of patrons inside. There are roughly 8-10 high chairs only)
Upon entering, Tony greeted us with amazing enthusiasm. With great energy and animation, Tony explains to us the menu – Frites serves up double layered poutines with the regular toppings you’d expect, their popular waffle sandwiches, and their up-and-coming Gourmet Frites. Their main selling point? Frites has over a 20 different gourmet sauces to throw on top of their hand-cut fries! (Q: if you are a geek, imagine the combinatorics of different toppings you could create!)
Q and I were hard pressed to decide on what we wanted to try and even what sauces to try out, so Tony helped us out by making the decision for us! We had originally come here expecting to have a poutine, but Tony blew us out of the water by serving up a poutine, gourmet frites, and a waffle sandwich!
When we were discussing the menu, Tony immediately suggested that we try one of their upcoming Gourmet Frites. The new menu is now up on their website. So what exactly is a Gourmet Frites? It’s essentially a levelled up poutine inspired by international food fare.
Hearing the options made me drool – Pad Thai Frites, Triple Pickle Frites, Kimchi Frites, Okonomi Frites, and Falafel Frites. The idea sounded brilliant to me, as there aren’t very many places that attempt this type of fusion. I had a butter chicken poutine from New York Fries once and was less than impressed.
I felt like having something spicy, so we went for the Kimchi Frites. (Q: that got me intrigued. How would they incorporate such flavour to a Canadian dish?)
When it arrived, Q and I were a bit taken aback by how large the Gourmet Frites was! (Q: look at that size! I had to ask Tony if it really is their regular size!)It was also quite glorious – fresh fries topped with kalbi beef, kimchi, sesame seeds, green onions, and GoChuJang sauce. It smelled wonderful and tasted even better! The GoChuJang sauce was mild spicy, which worked really well with the beef and kimchi flavours. (Q:I really enjoy the sweetness from the kalbi beef to counter a bit of that heat! That combination is addicting…sugar and spice and fried! As you can see, the amount of topping is very generous. Still beef and kimchi to go with the last bite!)
The fries were way crunchier than expected, which was awesome. Crunchy on the outside and still retaining that soft bite on the inside. (Q: the fries themselves are important! They are the star! Like C said I love that it is not super starchy. The fries could hold the topping without losing too much crispness, it didn’t become a pile of mush.) Tony tells us that they’re able to achieve this by prepping the potatoes overnight (Q: soaking them in cold water) and then hand cutting them and double frying them each day.
Shortly after we started digging into the Kimchi Frites, our classic Pulled Pork Poutine arrived.
Again, it was both a pleasant surprise and a bit daunting to find out that the pulled pork poutine was pretty large! (Q: it is half the length but a lot deeper.) Did I mention that when we went to this tasting that it was also the first day of our company’s 30 day fitness challenge? Yep, I got reamed out for this one! (Q: with us, I don’t think he can really eat healthy for 30 days!)
The pulled pork on the poutine was really really tender and quite delicious! I would put it just slightly over the pulled pork poutine I had at Smoke’s Poutinerie. I think the pulled pork at was also quite sweet, but not as sweet and sauce heavy as Smoke’s. Unfortunately the cheese curds here didn’t squeak, but the crunchy fries made up for it. Presentation-wise, Frites’ poutine also looked more appetizing (at least when sober!). (Q: I agree the pulled pork is tasty but it is a tad too sweet to my liking. It is disappointing that cheese curds don’t squeak as that’s an important element of a poutine. Overall I think pulled pork poutine is better at Smoke’s. Sorry love! Kimchi Gourmet fries is a much better choice!)
As if two giant poutine/fries weren’t enough, Tony also let us try their infamous Crispy Chicken Breast Waffle Sandwich.
The waffle wasn’t made in-house, so it was a but on the fluffy side as opposed to a nice crunchy dense waffle I expected. (Q: as much as it is not freshly made in house, the waffle is delicious as C had describe. It is a solid vesicle to make a sandwich of! It has a slight sweetness to it and I could it eat without the toppings!) The crispy chicken was really good though, and the bacon & chive sauce was definitely the right choice to go with this sandwich. (Q: to me this chicken sandwich is a tasty surprise! The chicken is so juicy and had the perfect seasoning in the batter! I could even go as far as it is a restaurant quality sandwich but done in a little poutine shop! I had the left over for lunch the next day. Even though I heated it with microwave, the waffle held up well along with the chicken! Half a sandwich is enough as a meal for me. It is that big!). It’s nice to have options outside of poutine and fries for those who might not be into it (the weirdoes).
All-in-all, Frites is a fantastic place to grab some solid poutine and specialty fries that you won’t find anywhere else. I think Tony is an awesome guy, and it certainly sounds like his heart is really into providing awesome poutine (the guy works like 12 hour days here!). Consider dropping Tony a line after a night out and check out their Kimchi Frites! I know I’ll be back to try their Falafel Frites!