Address: 298 Preston St, Ottawa
Hours: 11am – 8pm daily
Website: Social media only
Green factor: Mix of compostable and Styrofoam containers, plastic utensils; garbage bin on site
This rustic-looking trailer set up shop on Preston Street in the spring in the spot which has seen food trucks like Real McCoy Burgers & Fries, and Mr. Panino in recent years.
On my first visit, my wife and I went over one evening after work, intent on trying out their selection of poutines. Northern Bites goes beyond the basic chip truck offerings with toppings like chili, crispy Buffalo chicken, shrimp, and even lobster! They also have several sandwiches which incorporate many of the poutine toppings.
We were here for a Canadian salad though, so we stuck to our guns. I went with the Classic poutine ($9) while my wife inevitably succumbed to her love of pulled pork for that poutine ($15).
While I waited for our poutines, my wife went down the road to the old school Beavertails truck to get our dessert, making what might possibly have been the most Canadian meal ever. Once I had both containers of gravy-slathered carbs in hand, I rendezvoused with my wife and we made our way to Commissioner’s Park for more scenic eating.
Upon visual inspection, my Classic looked good – plenty of cheese curds, a dark brown gravy, and lightly browned, although likely from-frozen, fries.
I’m not sure what their gravy base is, but it’s not too salty nor obviously from a powder, but it also didn’t have the depth of a really good gravy. The fries might not have been hand-cut, but were still crispy on the outside and fluffy on the interior, and thick enough to stand up to the gravy.
The cheese curds were squeaky fresh, and there was a generous portion of them, such that there was always some to go with each bite. The curds and gravy weren’t aggressively layered, but I kind of liked this, so that once I got to the bottom, it wasn’t a soggy, congealed mess.
My wife’s BBQ pulled pork poutine was the exact same as my Classic, plus a heap of BBQ sauce and shredded pork. I found the sauce to be too sweet for my tastes (Team Tangy Pulled Pork!), but the meat was wonderfully tender and moist, without being mushy. The varying sizes of bits of pork lead me to believe that it was hand shredded and not poured out of a bag, so bonus points there.
On my second time around at Northern Bites, I came intent on trying out one of their sandwiches, but ended up succumbing to the temptation of the chili cheese dog ($7). They’re a rare sight at food trucks, and menus in general these days, so I went for it.
The all-beef dog had a decent snap to it, and you could still discern its flavour from that of the chili. The chili itself was thick and meaty, with a good amount of sautéed onion in it. The flavour was earthy and cumin-heavy, with a mild lingering heat. I’m a fan.
Topped off with a slathering of nacho cheese, it was hearty lunch, and one that most cardiologists would probably suggest you only have as a treat now and then.
A special tip of the cap to the owner and his small team for the long hours that they’re putting in! It can be hard knowing what’s open when, especially with the pandemic throwing a wrench in the works, but you can count on this mobile food slinger being open.
Northern Bites is offering up poutines and other items with lots of potential, and if they lean into their own kitchen skills and fresh ingredients, their star can only rise all the more.