Vanier Vignette #3: Casse-croute Vanier

The poutine is good. In fact, it’s exceptional. The fries are crispy, it’s melty but not too melty (the curds are definitely still curds) and the gravy is hot and thick and actually has a taste. And at $5.25 for a medium, it costs half as much as Elgin Street Diner poutine.
The walls of the tiny, corrugated metal snack bar are plastered with pictures of Canadiana- a beaver, the Canadian Tire symbol, the Avro Arrow, Trudeau- and an enormous maple leaf flag flies out front. If it were two miles down the road, Casse-Croute Vanier would be a tourist attraction.
Owner Serge Morin knows this. And yet he’s perfectly happy to run his business on a quiet residential intersection in Vanier. “I was born in Vanier, I like Vanier,” says Morin. “My son wants me to go to the By[ward] Market but I’d end up like the guy who ran the Blooming Onion [chipwagon]; they made him move and he lost a lot of money…” he says, beginning a monologue about how the city hurts independent businesses.
Some independent fast-food sellers may get nervous when a much more visible Burger King stands between them and the Montreal Road crowds. Not Morin. “They don’t even grill the meat over there,” he says. “If I had my way, I’d have a McDonalds on one side of me and a Burger King on the other. I know I have the best food.”
Before opening the Casse-Croute two years ago, Morin ran a chipwagon, which he still uses on special occasions, like charity events and Movies in the Park. “You couldn’t do that in the By-Market.”).
Morin followed his father, uncle and brother into the burger-and-poutine business. I’m hesitant to ask him about the family recipe, but he’s suprisingly forthcoming.
“There’s no secret,” he says. “I make it fresh from scratch. It hasn’t been sitting in a drawer for an hour, that’s the thing. You can’t go wrong if you make it fresh.”

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