La Belle Patate

1215 Esquimalt Road (across from Memorial Park), tel: 220-8427

Open Monday-Thursday 6am-11pm, Friday 6am - 1am, Saturday 6am - 1am (Delivery 1-11pm, 1am on Fri/Sat)


The rumours of a new smoked meat joint started circulating a few months ago. Then, I heard it was in Esquimalt. Then yesterday, Patty was walking around trying to remember the name he thought he'd heard (he wasn't even close, other than it was in French). Today, as we drove through Esquimalt on an unrelated mission, La Belle Patate presented itself to us and everything came clear.

First things first, they have a pirate graphic on the window. As all pirate graphics should be, it seems to have nothing to do with the shop, but it does look cool. Well signed otherwise, you can't miss it as you drive past the civic centre of Esquimalt.

Without prejudice, La Belle Patate is a  greasy spoon, with limited seating inside and several comfortable patio seats outside and a nice view of the park. The menu is distinguished by poutine and smoked meat, but includes, hot dogs (grilled or steamed), burgers, submarine sandwiches, spruce beer and milkshakes, among a few other things. Prices are fair, albethem not cheap and servings ample.

Patty and I split a smoked meat sandwich ($7.89), a medium poutine ($5.79) and a chocolate shake ($4.59). We were full, but not sickly so. The sandwich was tasty on rye bread with mustard and smoked meat. The meat was tender and smoky, and not too lean (I'm of the school that smoked meat should have enough fat on it to lubricate the bread at least a bit). I'd prefer brown mustard to the yellow variety, as the turmeric based colouring of the later left my finger nails stained for some time after. Similarly, the accompanying dill pickle was a little heavy on the preservatives, but better than no pickle at all.

The poutine was a mountain of fat, as it should be, with nice thick cut fries, appropriately salty gravy and a healthy serving of cheese curds. Not for the faint of heart, it's a gut bomb, but a yummy one. Patty drank most of the milkshake, but I noted it was freshly made and unlike some milkshakes, tasted like real dairy.

I think next time I'm going to have the poutine with the smoked meat on it, solving my mustard/pickle dilemma - and incorporating two wonderful things.

I like the idea of greasy spoon and you don't see it much anymore. As a kid it seemed like grease-laden, but freshly made and un-processed food abounded. (I'm sure I'm not the only person nostalgic for breakfast at Dot's on the way up Island; and no, the rumours are not true, it did not go up in a grease driven blaze of glory - it was highway expansion) Compared to the conventional burger hut, the traditional greasy spoon is generally better quality cooking, has a more interesting menu and almost always has a pleasantly/peculiar staff and/or clientele.

The service was fast and what appeared to be a senior staff person (or owner) even came around to check on the customers eating outside. While the decor is somewhat rustic (intentionally, I imagine), it's comfortable and clean. La Belle Patate should and will replace other destinations, when I'm craving a quick, greasy-meat fix. I'm looking forward to trying out the breakfast menu too.

  Reviewed: June 16 2008