Question, if you must, the audacity of Chef Jonathan Roberts to challenge poutine tradition. There are no creaking cheese curds in PigWizard’s version. And he brightens the brown gravy plate with sides of sauerkraut and pickles – a sight that might bring a chorus of dismay if presented to diners in Quebec, original home of the messy cradle of fries, curds and drippings.
But the dish is loaded with Roberts’ porchetta, and that brings something a classic rendering of poutine can’t match. Tender meat and the crackle of crisped rind give a textural contrast and a wavering trace of smoke. This complements the resinous, raspy bite of rosemary, garlic and preserved lemon that season the pork. And there’s a rich and warming meatiness to the gravy, lending a welcome heft – which is where the sauerkraut comes in. The herbal note in PigWizard’s dressing favors the porchetta, bringing a unique candied note that resonates on the palate, gathering strength from the rosemary seasoning. The fries can’t help but soak all of this in.
It’s a combination that puts PigWizard in a poutine runoff with Montrio Bistro. Cheese curds would just get in the way.
PigWizard, 32 Cannery Row #G, Monterey. 641-7316, pigwizard.com