I Went To The New Stella Artois Pop-Up In Toronto & They Might Have Canada's Fanciest Poutine
Who knew fast food could taste so fancy?
Toronto has a new pop-up restaurant and not only is it only going to be around for a few days, but it's also being launched by the iconic Belgian beer company Stella Artois, where they will be providing an "elevated" fast food experience.
Running from August 11 to August 15 in downtown Toronto, this pop-up offers a menu put together by influencer chef Laurent Dagenais. It offers some plussed-up versions of favourites like poutine, burger, french fries, and more.
So, in celebration of the launch of the new pop-up restaurant, I had the opportunity to check it out, try all the new food and visit the space over at 550 Yonge Street.
I was actually amazed by the quality and taste of everything as well as the incredibly cozy fun vibes of the space.
A new Stella Artois pop-up is opening in Toronto and it will elevate your fast food favourites! 🍔🍺 From August 11-15, you can enjoy a menu full of classic dishes with a twist, courtesy of Chef Laurent Dagenais. Menu items include duck confit poutine, merguez sausage corn dogs and more... as well as lots of Stella! #toronto #stellaartois #ontario #torontopopup #narcity #canada
But before you click away thinking that this might be too expensive for you, to get an hour-long seating, all you need to do is bring in a coupon for a fast food restaurant and get a single menu item, according to Stella Artois. So yes, it's essentially free!
Here's how my experience at the Stella Artois Dine-Thru went.
The interior of Dine-Thru.Tristan Wheeler | Narcity
The Stella Artois Dine-Thru is located in the Yonge neighbourhood and is nestled among the many restaurants along that strip. It makes you think that the joint will have some stiff competition, but it might actually be the other way around.
The stop has a bit of diner meets fast food joint, with bar seating as well as places to hang out both in the front and back of the store. The kitchen's open concept also means that it's incredibly easy to see what the cooks are up to, as well as the people pulling Stella off the tap.
The entire space had a really homey red and white vibe with some cozy art and nostalgic signage that makes you feel like you're in some unknown time between 1950 and now.
Along with this, the walls are adorned with a few slogans, such as "I'm savourin' it," which might be a bit of a subtle dig against the world-famous McDonald's slogan "I'm lovin' it."
Overall, the space to sit is great and makes it an enjoyable environment to get some food.
As previously mentioned, all of the food was done by Chef Laurent Dagenais, who took some classic comforting staples and elevated them.
One of the first things I ate was Laurent's Double-Fried Parm Frites, which were french fries that were wonderfully crispy on the outside but soft on the inside and topped with parmesan cheese and truffle.
Tristan with the truffle French Fries.Tristan Wheeler | Narcity
In the past, I often found things that have truffle in them are quite easily way too truffley. However, these fries were perfectly balanced in terms of the flavours. There was just enough of that truffle to give you that rich, umami flavour but not enough to make you feel like a giant walking truffle for the rest of the day.
Plus, they were perfectly salted and paired wonderfully with the chalices of Stella beer.
After that, I tried the Ultimate Fried Calamari Burger. This is exactly what it sounds like, a brioche bun, espelette pepper mayo with fried calamari instead of a burger patty.
Biting into this one, I was pleasantly surprised by the light Mediterranean flavours that the fried calamari gave, along with the other ingredients. The brioche bun was also a perfect vessel for the flavours, as anything breadier or denser would have taken over the entire palate.
The only downside to this was that I felt, given the nature of calamari, the fried squid's chewiness provided a little pause while eating. However, that ultimately didn't hamper my enjoyment of this surprisingly light burg.
The Ultimate Fried Calamari Burger.Tristan Wheeler | Narcity
The next dish I tried was an item entitled "You Have Had A Pogo, But Have You Had A Merguez Pogo," which was a Pogo, a.k.a. a corn dog, with, you guessed it, Merguez sausage. Also, instead of ketchup or mustard, it came with a lemon and herb yogurt dip.
In case you didn't know, Merguez sausage is a North African sausage often made with beef or mutton, which continues the Mediterranean vibes.
One thing that was really good about these bites was the batter on these corn dogs, which was just enough to give you that satisfying bite, but didn't overpower the complex flavours of the sausage in the middle. And then the whole thing is only made even more toothsome when you dip it in that sauce, creating a deliciously elevated version of a childhood favourite.
The Merguez Corn Dogs.Tristan Wheeler | Narcity
The second to last food item had from their menu was their Nostalgic Deep-Fried Mac 'N' Cheese Balls, which were wonderful little spheres of mac and cheese made with a three-cheese blend, Bechamel sauce and served on a bed of a sweet, smokey sauce.
Of all the items I tried, this was maybe the least surprising, which is perhaps the point with the "nostalgic" moniker. They were tasty and crispy and went well with the sauce they were served with, but unlike some of the other items on the menu, my world wasn't rocked by them. But still, a tasty treat.
The Nostalgic Deep-Fried Mac & Cheese Balls.Tristan Wheeler | Narcity
The last item I ate was a dish called "The Most Decadent Confit Poutine." It's a poutine with classics like fries and cheese curds but launched into the stratosphere with the addition of duck confit and foie gras gravy.
This was probably my favourite item on the menu for one reason: the gravy. It was rich, tasty and had a lot of depth for something that is sometimes neglected in other poutines.
And while the duck confit I felt wasn't the richest and most buttery I've had, it was a fun addition to a delicious, stretchy-cheesy poutine executed well.
However, poutine purists might be a bit angry at the addition of peas on top, but I'm not a purist, so I thought it was fun to see a little bit of green on the menu.
The Most Decadent Confit Poutine.Tristan Wheeler | Narcity
All-in-all, I was astonished and delighted by the food served at Dine-Thru. Plus, it's impressive that you can get such high-quality food for just the cost of a fast food coupon.
So, if your interest is piqued by my thoughts on Dine-Thru, you would be remiss to check it out before it disappears. You'll want to act fast as the slots have already filled up, but you can get on their waiting list online to be notified when more slots open up!
And this isn't even the only pop-up in Toronto right now. You can check out Matty Matheson's collaboration with Knorr or a new patio pop-up called Civil Pours being put on by Canada's top bar Civil Liberties.