This Sh*t's Delicious

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Review of The Big Cheese

The Big Cheese - Branding is a big thing

Like clogging up your arteries with potato, gravy, and cheese curds? Yeah, well so do we. This fine establishment is right beside Melrose on 17th Avenue, making it the perfect location for grabbing a late night snack as you stumble out of the bar at 2 am. The last thing a drunk wants is healthy food, and they definitely don’t want to walk more than 3 blocks to get it.

It's got a real inner-city metropolis feel, and lineups to matchThe menu is all poutine, baby. One section dominated by chicken, one section with pork, one section with beef, some traditional poutine, and even vegetarian (probably using gravy made with veggie stock). You can even custom build your poutine, choosing from a few different types of curries and gravies, cheeses, and meats. I ordered the Porky Pig (sausage, bacon, mushrooms, onions), and a few others ordered the Buffalo Chicken (chicken, franks red hot sauce, peas). Every poutine is served in 2 sizes, small and large. The small is really not that small – it’s enough to serve as a meal in my opinion. Having ordered the large, I felt the need to curl into foetal position on the bench and take a nap immediately afterwards. The large would be pretty good on an empty stomach.

The Porky Pig is pretty much standard fare poutine, but with the addition of bacon and sausage. You still get the Quebec cheese curds, gravy, and fries like any normal poutine. It comes out hot and fresh in a waxed cardboard take-out box, so, if you can’t find a seat inside (the place is not that big), you can sit outside on a nice sunny day or go for a stroll along 17th and not have the poutine leave a big grease stain on your crotch. Trust me, I know from experience (I trust you, Kent. Although, I was pretty sure it wasn’t a “grease” stain. Thanks for clearing that up. –Kiran)

Pork galore! It may not be kosher but it sure is deliciousAs far as the taste is concerned, I didn’t find the fries and gravy anything that exceptional. The serving comes out hot but the fries are not too soggy. The gravy is rich, thick, and not extremely salty. But, what really sets it apart is the different varieties of poutine, gravy, and toppings that you can throw in. It really depends what you order. Some (like the Porky Pig) will have the meat overpower the taste of everything else. The Buffalo Chicken has a bigger emphasis on the hot sauce. I think I am more impressed with the originality and selection on the menu than the taste of the poutine. Although I didn’t try the original, unmodified poutine, so my opinion could change.

Richard’s Notes

It feels like Calgary is growing into a full-out metropolis!  The Big Cheese feels like the sort of place that you might find in the Big Apple – charming style, interesting theme, big lineups (at certain times of the day – people seem to come here in waves).

The dilemma of getting just the right amount of food with a small vs. getting good value for your money with a large is grossly magnified here – typically a large only costs a couple bucks more than a small but you seem to get twice as much (fries, at least – toppings probably aren’t doubled).  I’d recommend coming with an empty stomach or with a friend so that you can split a large if you are looking to stretch your dollar.

From what I have seen, they are struggling a bit with consistency in the quality of the food – though perhaps this is normal for a brand-spankin’ new place.  I’ve had one friend tell me his fries were fried to death, while I found mine to be soft but largely unremarkable.  I quite enjoyed the Montreal Smoked Meat, but was less impressed with the Porky Pig (I did have these at two separate occasions though, so it may have had to do with how hungry I was each time).

Let's maximize the Quebec-ness by adding Montreal smoked meat to poutine!

Summary

You probably won’t be disappointed by The Big Cheese. The fries and gravy might not blow your mind away. But as a whole, combined with an orgy of different toppings to choose from, it is incredibly satisfying. And for those who are famished or maybe looking for a big hangover meal, you can order a pretty large portion and not blow too much money. Not that you would notice anyway after a long night on 17th Ave. (Kent’s review is spot on. The draw of this place isn’t the poutine, it is toppings themselves. The poutinerie isn’t any different from Tubby Dog – I don’t go there to eat their awesome dogs, I go there for the messed up and unholy goodness of toppings. That said, I did try the traditional poutine (with vegetarian gravy) at The Big Cheese and…well, it begged the question why poutine is so huge. Some of you haters might say that’s cause it was a vegetarian gravy, bitch. But, you know what, I eat veggie hot dogs all the time, and they taste delicious, so I don’t buy that argument. All in all, I am glad I tried it, but the next time I am at The Big Cheese, I am going to order their Mexican Vegetarian Poutine –Kiran)

-Kent

Ranking

  Kent Kiran Richard
Ambiance 4/6 4/6 5/6
Service 4.5/6 4/6 4/6
Plating 4.5/6 4/6 5/6
Taste 4.5/6 4/6 4/6
Originality 6/6 5.5/6 5/6
Value 5/6 5/6 5/6
Overall 28.5/36 = 79% 26.5/36 = 74% 28/36 = 78%

Big Cheese Poutinerie on Urbanspoon

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7 responses to “Review of The Big Cheese

  1. Travis May 2, 2011 at 14:15

    Only 4/6 for ambiance!!? Any restaurant where I can hear Biggie blasting out the speakers receives top marks in my books.

    • kiransomanchi May 2, 2011 at 14:47

      Hehe. Yes, but there are other things to take into consideration apart from their music selection.

  2. Dave May 4, 2011 at 19:32

    Nice review Kent, I think it’s pretty accurate actually. You should try reviewing Kickers at some point.. I’d like to find the best poutine in the city.

    • kiransomanchi May 5, 2011 at 05:24

      Yeah, Dave. Why don’t you stick to IT and leave the food to us? ;D hahahaha
      jk

  3. kenter May 4, 2011 at 22:04

    I really liked Kicker’s poutine. But it probably deserves a review focusing on their sandwiches. Charcut has some good poutine as well

    • kiransomanchi May 5, 2011 at 23:22

      You and Richard should really do a poutine showdown with poutine from District, Laurier Lounge, and other poutine places…

  4. Pingback: Review of The Big Cheese (via This Sh*t’s Delicious) « Hot sauce

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