“Is this place Canadian or something?” asked my ten-year-old daughter.
I chuckled as I looked around the restaurant. There were strings of Canadian flags, a preponderance of plaid, and a song by the band Rush played on the sound system. The restaurant’s menu revolved around one iconic dish from our Neighbor to the North: poutine.
Yes, dear daughter, Smoke’s Poutinerie is Canadian.
The restaurant opened earlier this year at the corner of South University and Forest. A take-out window can be accessed from Forest or patrons can dine inside at numerous high bar tables with stools. Smoke’s shares an interior with The Beaver Trap Bar, too, so adult beverages are available.
What is poutine?
“Poutine is one of life’s greatest creations,” my husband commented to our kids, ages 14 and 10, as we sat at a table burned with the image of a smiling beaver.
They did not seem so sure. I could relate. Poutine, which originated in Quebec, is made with fries, cheese curds and gravy. Until you have tried the mixture, you can’t imagine its tasty goodness.”
All menu items at Smoke’s start with traditional poutine: fries that are hand-cut on premises topped with signature gravy with a hint of rosemary and cheese curds, which are created when whey is separated from milk.
You can stick with Traditional poutine ($7.29) or add toppings. I saw a Korean version ($9.29) with bulgogi marinated steak, kimchi and red chili sauce. My kids were amused by the Bacon Beans N’ Weenies version ($8.99). There are renditions of poutine with pretty much anything, witness scrambled eggs, sriracha, and guacamole. Our server mentioned Smoke’s can customize based on a customer’s preference.
She informed us that Chicken Bacon Ranch ($8.99) was the most popular poutine. It adds grilled chicken, double-smoked bacon, and ranch dressing. My husband picked that. I settled on the Bacon Cheeseburger ($8.99) with bacon, ground beef and cheese sauce. My son selected Bacon ($8.99) while my daughter stuck with the Traditional.
“They pack these things full of fries,” my fourteen-year-old commented of his box of bacon poutine. “Tons of bacon, too.”
My Bacon Cheeseburger poutine was decadent. The gravy was rich and filling, especially combined with the ground beef and cheese sauce. I liked the mellow coolness of the curds. The fries were impressive, too. They tasted like potato, not greasy, and held up well under the substantial toppings, at least in the beginning.
After sampling everyone’s poutine, my husband declared his Chicken Bacon Ranch the favorite. I disagreed. To me, my daughter’s Traditional was the best because I could taste each flavorful ingredient. She could only eat half of her box, as it was so rich. A snack size is available for smaller appetites.
Smoke’s makes it clear that their target audience is college kids. All the tables are the high bar kind. No high chair could be pulled up to these tables, even if high chairs were available. There are no changing tables in the restrooms. Nonetheless, the atmosphere is casual and lively and the menu revolves around French fries which, after all, sounds kid-friendly..
The Short Course
Kid-friendly: More yes than no
To avoid wait: Go earlier for dinner than UM students and steer clear during home football games
Noise level: moderate
Bathroom amenities: No changing tables
High chairs? No.
Got milk? Nope, but they have juices and pop.
Kids’ menu? No, but a smaller snack size is available.
Anything healthy for kids? Ha ha! One of their slogans is “Clogging arteries since 2009.”
Food allergy concerns? They use trans-fat free canola oil. Call ahead and speak to the manager about specific concerns.
1300 S. University
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Phone: (734) 408-1350
Hours: Mon-Wed 11am-2am;
Thurs-Sat 11am-3am; Sunday 11am-11pm