Belgian Fries on Commercial Drive at 3rd, Vancouver


After dropping the boys off for yet another of their top secret training, Suanne and I decided to go to Commercial Drive. We hardly ever go to Commercial Drive at all. Not sure why though, especially knowing that there are a lot of good eating places here.

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While checking out the restaurants along Commercial Drive, we came across Belgian Fries. I remember reading a well researched Foodospohy’s review just a few days earlier. Although the review came out negative from Foodosopher, we went nevertheless. We are not picky eaters and we can’t imagine how bad french fries could get.

I remember reading a lot of other reviews of Belgian Fries and each of them talks about having Poutine. I thought it was kind of funny, odd too, that the Quebec version of french fries is the thing to have in a place called Belgian Fries. On the awning in front, just beside their Belgian Fries banner is the tagline that says “CBC Montreal: Best Poutine in BC”. Perhaps they should name this place the Montreal Poutine or something like that … No? Yes? No?

Anyway, Belgian Fries is located on Commercial Drive at East 3rd Ave.

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The interior is bright and spacious. The music is loud. It is definitely a youngster hangout. We felt old in there. We could smell the deep frying from the edge of the restaurant where we park ourselves. One thing that irks me is that the floor is so sticky like they had never mopped this for ages.

They used to be half the size you see in the picture above. I am not sure when they had expanded but looking at this old picture of Belgian Fries, you can just imagine that business must have been very good.

To order, you pay at the counter and they will give you a number. They will call your number once it is ready. This means that they make the fries only on order — which is good.

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We got the Montreal Smoked Beef Poutine to share. The large one costs $8.50.

It sure looked unhealthy and I mean very, very unhealthy. It also looked very delicious and I mean very, very mouth watering.

We had a way to eat this. You really need a strategy because it could get very messy. We started off by … picking up the peripheral ones by hand and dip it in ketchup. We then eat the layer of smoke beef before finally digging in to the wet sticky glob at the bottom with a fork.

I can’t remember where I read it but it was just recently that a Vancouver area blogger asked if there is a Canadian cuisine. Oh yeah, there is … it is Poutine, believe it or not. Poutine is considered as a national dish of Canada and is known to have been invented in Quebec just over 50 years ago. So this is a pretty recent invention.

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What makes poutine poutine is the stuff above … cheese curd. And the gravy too but the cheese curd is what makes it Canadian.

I had never had the cheese curds fresh before. I read that the perfect cheese curd must be eaten hours after it is made and is squeaky to the bite. I had never had fresh ones before and would die to try it. I saw that the cheese curds that Belgian Fries uses are individually packed in plastic and just assumed that it is not freshly made.

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The cheese cuuuuurd!

The reason why poutine is served with very hot gravy is to melt the cheese curd. The cheese curds has a mild taste with a texture that is rubbery.

Was the poutine good? Yes it was. We like it. But it was also very salty from the Montreal Smoked Beef. On hindsight, we should have just ordered plain poutine without the beef.

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Here are some random trivia about fries.

What makes Belgian fries different from most fries. Two things … they are thick cut and they are deep fried twice. When I toured Belgium two years ago, I went to this fries outlet where they made a lot, and I mean A LOT, of fries. There are two stations. They deep fry a huge batch on one station, let it sit for some time before they deep fried it again in higher temperature that gives it that golden yellow crust.

As popular as Belgian Fries (or even French Fries) is in Europe and particularly the US, potatoes are NOT native to Europe. Potatoes are from South America. It was the discovery of the new world by Christopher Columbus that introduces potatoes to Europe. Today, Europe consumes the most potatoes than anywhere else in the world that you would think that potatoes had always been available there.

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We also had dessert … Deep Fried Pecan Ice Cream. This is $5.

We were not planning on it but it sounded so intriguing.

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This is just simply awesome. We enjoyed this a lot … knowing also that this is equally as unhealthy (not that we are very concerned to tell the truth).

There is even a film of frying oil from the deep fryer. The crust is crunchy and the vanilla ice cream smooth. Yeah, this is the type of dessert that will draw “mmmm” with each spoonful.

You must save room for dessert here.

Belgian Fries has a lot of types of poutine. There are at least ten I counted in their menu below. Check it out but clicking on the image below.

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Belgian Fries on Urbanspoon

25 thoughts on “Belgian Fries on Commercial Drive at 3rd, Vancouver

  1. just go to La Grotta Fromaggio a few doors down and buy your own cheese curds and subsequently make your own poutine.
    I’m not sure about the gravy though, will any gravy you like do?
    If you must have powdered gravy, I do recommend the Swiss Chalet homestyle gravy…something not so salty and dark about it. If you want real gravy..then, um…better get the roast in the oven! hehe

  2. Hi Ben,

    It was a rare occasion I was in East Van, as I’m a Richmondite like yourself. Anyways, due to your post, I decided to try this place like yourself.

    I only got the regular poutine without anything else to try to get a true sense of the poutine. The gravy and cheese curbs were good. However, even if the fries were so called double fried, they were WAY WAY toooo soggy for my liking. Overall I was a bit disapointed by this place. Will try La Belle Patate on another day.

    PS. Best food blog out there! Chowtimes!

    • Hi Ryan: Thanks for the kind words. Frankly, I am not a fan of poutine and often find them too salty for my palate. But I’ll probably try La Belle Patate too someday.

  3. Hey Ben!

    Hit the Winter Farm Market at WISE Hall this Saturday for the best cheese curds I’ve found (yet) in BC. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks has ’em, though they often sell out so go early. Even a few days post-production they still have good squeak but for me they also have the best flavour. We have had the great good fortune of visiting the farm near Qualicum and trying some right after they were made — to quote the young uns, OMG!

  4. Oh god, I went here for lunch awhile back. I had the exact same thing…the poutine with Montreal smoked meat. I couldn’t finish it…I felt like dying after about 60% of the plate. It’s far too heavy of a dish but then again, you know what you’re getting into when you order a plate full of fried potatoes covered in cheese, gravy and meat.

  5. The deep fried ice cream looks like the best that I have seen so far (I’ve only seen it available at thai restaurants). The fries look fantastic! I do want to try the cheese curd though, as I haven’t had them yet.

  6. If you like poutine give Brado a try. It’s on Commercial as well. I ordered some take out poutine from Brado and it was still crispy when we brought it home.

  7. Nice review and great pics as always! But one question – are you implying im picky? 🙂

    Had a quick question though – how did you feel the fries compared to the ones you had touring Belgium?

    • Hi Foodosopher:

      I won’t say you’re picky. That sounded negative. My impression was that you take your food seriously and make every effort to find out more about it. I like your style of writing quite unlike me who eat anything, write anything and never bothering to check my grammar and spellings. LOL! When I used the word “well researched”, I was thinking that I had never attempted to define what a good Belgian fries is but you captured it so well I was impressed. That was a learning for me.

      You know, what I had in “Belgian Fries” is basically Canadian Poutine. What I had in Belgium was Belgian fries. I remember they gave me all I can eat fries with the mussels at Chez Leon. They call it Frites At Will! That was one memorable meal to me. From memory it was fried darker, crunchier. Actually, I had the most fries in Amsterdam where I witnessed how they deep fry them twice. I had never seen so much fries in a single place in my life.

      Ben

  8. “I can’t remember where I read it but it was just recently that a Vancouver area blogger asked if there is a Canadian cuisine. Oh yeah, there is … it is Poutine, believe it or not. Poutine is considered as a national dish of Canada and is known to have been invented in Quebec just over 50 years ago. So this is a pretty recent invention.”

    There are many other genuine Canadian foods and drinks. Just a few examples:

    – tourtiere
    – nanaimo bars
    – sugar pies (sometimes called butter tarts)
    – screech
    – ploye
    – bannock

  9. hey ben and suanne 🙂

    you can get fresh cheese curds from les amis du fromage. i think they only come in once/week (not sure what day) but you can pre-order too. i got mine from the location at 1752 w. 2nd and they were squeaky fresh! they have two other locations as well – park royal in west van and 843 e. hastings.

  10. U have to try cheese curds, just to be Canadian! I was sceptical before too till I bought some from a farm outside of Ottawa…they were spiced garlic. Meant to bring them back home but ate the entire bag while driving!!

  11. Fresh curds may be better but just because they came in a bag doesn’t mean they are substandard or overprocessed. To get actual fresh curds, you would have to go to a cheese factory, like Beechers in Pike Place Market or Tillamook in Oregon. I am sure there are cheese makers near you. I know for a fact there are some on Vancouver Island.

    You can make your own cheese curds pretty easily. I’ll bet some of the people at the community kitchen know how. You basically put acid (like lemon juice) in milk to make it curdle (see that word “curd” in there), then drain off the whey. Don’t pour the whey down the drain, as it has most of the milk protein and can be used in protein shakes or soup (refrigerate or freeze it). On protein powders you will see the ingredient “Dairy Whey,” which is what you will have.

    If you cut the curds up, rinse them well, salt them and press and drain them in a mold you will have cheese. Cheese variations all depend on what type of milk you use (goat milk, cow milk, buffalo milk…) and how long you age the pressed curds, as well as what molds or bacteria you introduce (like the bacteria that makes yogurt, it is not bad for you).

    I think you should make a batch of homemade poutine, and see if that fresh curd makes a difference.

    • I am so amazed with you, etranger. Where do you learn all these things? 🙂 Thanks for all these useful info as they really contribute to the richness of chowtimes. Many thanks!
      Ben

  12. properly, fries are always supposed to be fried twice to get the crisness. the first time is to blanche at a lower temp to get some moisture out, the second time at the higher temp is to crisp it.

    • Hi Koji: I can’t stand the heat and never worked in a kitchen before. Is it true then that all fries are made by double frying it? i.e. does McDonalds do that too?

      • I fried the fries @ White Spot twice all the time. We’d have one fryer at a lower temperature for blanching, doing buckets at a time. Then we left them to cool down and fried to order as needed for plating.

        I don’t know about fast food restaurants like McD’s Burger King etc though. I always see it come frozen out of the dispensing machine into the basket, then into the oil.

  13. I am the kind of person that loves her fries fried to a very crisp state.I think I would prefer the poutine on the side, so I could dip the fries into it. I would think the poutine on top would make the fries soggy.Just my random thoughts lol
    Pam

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