Poutine — the French Canadian fast food consisting of fries, cheese curds, and enough steaming gravy to turn the assemblage into a gooey-crisp object of supreme face-stuffability — had its trendy moment here. In Canada, however, its trajectory has been from street stalls and food courts into sit-down restaurants that take the idea and run with it. In Montreal, Poutine Boss serves a General Tso version, while Poutineville offers one with filet mignon and blue cheese. O Canada.
Montreal native Thi Tram Nguyen thought the Chicago area (specifically Naperville, where she lives) was ready for such a spot. So she teamed with restaurateur Tim Baker to open Chez François Poutinerie and serve a fun menu that ranges from the Hipster, topped with delicious tiles of crispy pork belly, to the Lumberjack, which adds bacon, sausage, and jalapeños to the base of hand-cut fries and squeaky-fresh cheese curds from Milwaukee’s Clock Shadow Creamery. I was content with the basic Montreal and the moment of Zen snarf it afforded. Get it with a Greek salad for balance.
Yet Nguyen has more on her mind than potatoes. She named the restaurant for her autistic son and set it up as a training program for special-needs adults. They’re proud workers who add to your experience. It’s amazing how food always tastes better when you see the heart that goes into it.