Le Roy Jucep is located on a boulevard crowded with fast food franchises and strip malls, but you will have no trouble finding it. Just look for the restaurant with a giant orange slice on its roof. The slice signifies that it is home of the Orange Julep, Canadian equivalent of the States’ Orange Julius – a frothy cross between OJ and a milk shake, just a little too sweet to pass as a health drink. Here in the U.S., we like ours with a couple of hot dogs. In Quebec, an Orange Julep goes great with poutine.
Le Roy Jucep is where you want to eat poutine, even if, in general, you are a poutine-frowner. It claims to be the place that first served what has since become a signature dish of La Belle Province. The story is that back in the 1950s, Jean-Paul Roy, a chef in Montreal, began serving potatoes with gravy, which some customers asked to be decorated with cheese curds. In 1964, Monsieur Roy took over the Orange Jucep dairy bar drive-in and put the dish on his menu. It became known as poutine as a play on the word “pudding,” as well as on the nickname of his cook, who was called Ti-Pout.
The history is debatable, but the quality of the poutine served here is secure. On a foundation of handsome gold pommes frites is ladled savory-sweet gravy and cheese curds that are bright and squeaky, purchased daily and always kept at room temperature for maximum flavor. What a joy it is to excavate down through cheese turned molten by the hot gravy, then into spuds that range from still-crunchy to virtual mashed.
If the appeal of classic poutine eludes you, the menu here offers more than a dozen variations, including Octoberfest (with German sausage), pizza poutine (with pepperoni), and a different special each day, which was poutine Chinoise when I visited – a palate-puzzling plate of frites and curds topped half and half with tangy barbecue sauce and spaghetti sauce.