Every so often I am tempted to eat something for reasons that do not necessarily make sense to everyone. This was one of those occasions.
It was several weeks ago while walking along Commercial Drive that I really stopped to look at Brado. While I had walked and driven by more times that I can count, I never bothered to pay close attention to it, as it simply did not strike me as my kind of place. With a mass variety of food available, including burgers, sandwiches, pastas, wings and more, it gave me allusions that none of it could possibly be done well. I am, for better and worse, a believer in specialization. If you want good pasta, you go to a Italian restaurant. If a delicious burger is on your mind, you hit a burger joint. For these reasons I always ignored Brado, but it all changed when I stopped to look at the sandwich board that day.
I like pizza and adore poutine, but I had never thought of putting the two together. Considering the combination for the first time as I stared at the advertisement instilled a craving in me I knew I could not beat alone. I had to have it, not because it sounded tasty, or because I had grand expectations, but simply because it existed.
My good friend Jonny was kind enough to join me for this foray into weird food territory yesterday. When we arrived at Brado the pizza in the warming tray did not look very appealing, and Jonny openly questioned my motivation. With reassurance from me, we proceeded onward and I ordered a medium for us to split
Made fresh to order, we had to incur a decent wait for the pizza, after which we were met with a box that looked as if it were going to contain a PVR from Telus. I was quite miffed at first, wondering if they had repurposed a box for our pizza, but upon further inspection it became obvious that it was just part of a marketing program. It still felt awkward, but it at least things were starting to make sense.
We took shelter on the patio outside and cracked open the box, staring blankly at the combination of two of our favourite foods. My initial impression was that it looked as though someone had climbed a step ladder and dropped a bowl of poutine into a box, with the swirling gravy rings being the only indication that this was of intentional design.
Things got messy quickly as both Jonny and myself grabbed a slice. The pizza was hot and difficult to handle, causing the first couple of slices to be a little camera shy. The crust was very different from the pizzas we observed under the heat lamps before. Being light and crispy, it was unexpected and suited the circumstances well as the inclusion of fries already added so much starch.
The cheese, scattered liberally in chunks amid the fries, was thoroughly melted. While the poutine purist inside of me always cries for squeaky curds, the fact that I was eating a poutine pizza caused it to be a moot point. Being chewy and soft, the mozzarella tied the poutine into the pizza in a way that was acceptable given the situation. The fries themselves were average and never quite shook the awkward feeling that came from them sitting atop the crust. In a similar vein, the gravy was of your typical brown variety, doing little to stand out aside from adding much needed moisture to the fries and crust.
As we continued to eat, Jonny suggested folding the slices, which confused me as they were not large enough to fold. I watched as he took two slices and folded them together, creating what I now consider to be a Jonny Sandwich. He insisted it was unequivocally the best method of consumption, so I followed suite and found that the sandwich style not only made the pizza easier to eat, but also gave more substance for the gravy and cheese to cling to.
With the box empty I stared off into the street. I did not know what to make of Brado’s Poutine Pizza when I first saw it so long ago, and I still did not know what to make of it after eating it.
After quiet contemplation over a beer at St. Augustine’s, I doubted the notion that I would ever want to eat it again, but that’s not necessarily a knock on the pizza or Brado. I never wanted to eat it because it looked good or sounded delicious. It was simply something strange to eat for the sake of trying something peculiar.
If you’re the kind of person that appreciates the awkward and messy consequences of food exploration, there may be a place for the poutine pizza in your future. If, however, you are seeking something to satisfy your hunger while adhering to more traditional roots, you may want to pass on it.
While not unique enough to be considered truly bizarre, those seeking odd food combinations may find the poutine pizza at Brado an intriguing vacation away from burgers and other regular fare. Those seeking a genuinely satisfying meal however, should look elsewhere.
Brado, 1399 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Medium Poutine Pizza
$9.95 before tax ($4.98 split two ways)