Canadian ex-pats can now head to Hillcrest for a taste of home; Mess Royale opens its first poutine shop on University Avenue on Thursday. UPDATE: A small setback has pushed the restaurant's opening to Thursday, April 9.
The trendy dish, which pops up on local menus — from Carnitas' Snack Shack to Great Maple — is the centerpiece of the eatery, which offers an 'OG' version as well as a dozen riffs on the popular snack.
Owner and Montreal native Hugo Tassone starts his San Diego poutine with fresh-cut, twice-cooked red potatoes, which are smothered in homemade brown gravy and topped with Wisconsin cheese curds. Other variations include bacon, lobster, carne asada and cheesesteak-topped fries.
Tassone is also shipping in sesame-topped St-Viateur Bagels, which get toasted and used as bread for BLTs and New York-style pastrami sandwiches, subbing in for Montreal smoked meat.
Other comfort foods include grilled cheese, hot dogs and pulled pork sandwiches on brioche buns with pickles, swiss, slaw and chipotle mayo. A bacon fanatic, one of Tassone's favorite dishes is his slow cooked bacon, grilled with a beer and maple glaze until candied.
Mess Royale offers Ballast Point beer, plus wine, and will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Late night hours may follow and a sidewalk patio will be in place by summer.