If the food adventures of hyper happy Italian John Cattuci haven’t already acquainted you with Stratford’s poutine palisade, Boomer’s Gourmet Fries, then you’re likely living under a rock, or likely me, who doesn’t give a flying fuck and rolling doughnut about any food tourism show the Food Network hashes out because you got enough of that sad shit in graduate school. So was it any wonder why I was publically shamed asking who the hell the dude in all the photos was? The answer is a resounding: no. Was I impressed? Only because I never thought television paid any mind to the backwoods of Southern Ontario. When Cambridge is on national TV though, I’ll be really blown away. Was I ashamed of myself? Not in the slightest. I was there to eat. Maybe a little against my will. But Joey wanted poutine, as per usual, and so did my future ex-girlfriend (or wife, Universe willing). So I couldn’t not oblige. Contrary to popular belief, I am a gentleman. Besides, our last trip to Stratford, the home base of Boomer’s, and Joey’s mystery poutine in a Styrofoam cup had me wondering where the hell the thing came from and why he paid near 7 dollars for it. This was one more gastronomic dog I could at least put to rest.
And of course Boomer’s name precedes it, thanks to television; but there’s a reason it was on television, and that’s because it makes fantastically creative poutines, or ‘gourmet fries.’ The joint’s aesthetic may communicate otherwise, but the bougie sentiment of gourmet certainly sticks to some, if not all, options like, well, cheesy curds on poutine (yeah, I went there). There are burgers too, among other things. I’m sure they’re just as fantastic, but my stinginess requires me, in my heart of hearts- until I’m a real person, making real money- to stick to eating as little as possible without feeling the belly-ache of portions I hate to pay for. Hey, we’d always like a little more for a little less, but this isn’t America. Boomer’s isn’t America. It’s a place that makes some of the best poutines around though; some that look like martinis topped with onion rings, toothpicks, and olives, others like strange bowls of spaghetti and meatballs. All tasty, all interesting. Joey and I bought poutine topped with goat cheese and basil oil (a kind of quick pesto); but Joey, having discovered we made the same choice, immediately changed his mind for a black bean and chili fries concoction.
So there they were in front of us all: my stacked fries, bottomed out with gravy and dolloped with a cool ball of lush, tart goat cheese, drizzled with an elixir of potent oil that easily flavoured the entire dish. I wanted more, thinking the golf ball of cheese and the tincture of oil couldn’t cover the whole mix. Joey showed me otherwise, swapping mine with his and turning it all to prove that a little went a long way. The oil was vibrant, almost visceral, peppery and hot, made savoury by the gravy and cheese. If I didn’t like the idea of gravy with it before, I did then. A landslide of refried black beans deluged every fry. The more I ate it, the more its spice warmed the back of my throat, the more the cumin lingered on my breath, creamy but paradoxically gritty, absolutely reminiscent of all those strong, familiar South American flavours. I couldn’t have liked it anymore. But Boomer’s is far from perfect. My piety for coleslaw had the place losing a little points. It was briny, but a little too lime like for my liking. So much so, it had the bizarre quality of lemon soda about it. It was crude, a little too fresh, not as stewed as I would have liked. Clearly, fresh crunchy coleslaw isn’t my thing, but hey, what can you do? John Cattuci might have something else to say, but his isn’t my mouth, and lucky for me, I don’t have to worry about pandering to avoid being fired. That’s already happened anyway, and I survived. Obviously, after this review, Boomer’s will too.
Boomer’s Gourmet Fries
26 Erie St
Tue-Thurs: 11:30 am- 6pm
Fri: 11:30 am- 7pm
Sat: 12 pm- 6pm