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Reality Check: Pizza Hut's Cheesy Beef Poutine Pie
I don't know if it's due to flagging sales or if it's just a way to get people talking about their restaurants again, but Pizza Hut Canada seems to be fully committed to the gimmick pizza game. They only recently introduced the Crown Pizza, which featured cheese and meatballs baked into the crust; clearly someone at Pizza Hut HQ realized that this wasn't quite ridiculous enough. They can do better.
It was with that in mind, I'm sure, that Pizza Hut released their latest wave of gimmick pizzas, including Creamy Butter Chicken, Asian BBQ, and most ridiculously, Cheesy Beef Poutine.
Yes, poutine on a pizza. I am inexplicably drawn to terrible novelty items from fast food chains (which almost never ends well for me), so I obviously had to try this.
I should note that I actually don't mind Pizza Hut. It's not good pizza by any definition of the term, but their greasy pan pizzas at least have some personality, which is more than I can say for the horrible discs of awfulness that they dish out to the unsuspecting masses at Pizza Pizza.
I wanted to like the poutine pizza. I really did. And to Pizza Hut's credit, I did not hate it. I would absolutely never order it again, but it could have been so much worse.
I think the most important thing to note about this thing is that it really bears very little resemblance to pizza. Aside from its shape and the presence of that distinctively greasy Pizza Hut crust, it tastes very little like any pizza I've had before.
It basically tastes like someone took a poutine, dumped it on pizza dough, added some extra cheese and then baked it. This isn't a horrible idea, per se. It's bizarre, no doubt about it. But I'm sure that executed well, this could have been reasonably tasty.
Pizza Hut did not execute it well.
First and foremost is the gravy, which replaces the traditional tomato sauce. It's exceptionally salty, with a processed, generically meaty taste. If you've ever had gravy at a hospital cafeteria, then you know what to expect.
There's also "seasoned shaved steak," which essentially melts into the gravy and may as well not even be there. Considering that it could have very easily been chewy and horrible, I'll take that as a win.
The fries might have been okay at one point, but after being deep fried and baked in an oven, they're unpleasantly crunchy and completely overcooked.
As for the cheese curds, they pretty much blend in with the mozzarella and don't make much of an impact.
Let's be honest here: I don't think anyone expected this to be anything but an inedible mess, so the fact that it's even halfway decent is something of an accomplishment for Pizza Hut. A dubious one, but an accomplishment nonetheless.
Ultimately, it is a gimmick item from a fast food joint, and how it tastes is almost beside the point. Pizza Hut knows that it'll get people talking, and that those of us who inexplicably can't resist this sort of thing will be drawn to it like moths to a flame.
And hey, as far as this sort of thing goes, I've had much worse (Burger King pulled pork—a.k.a. one of the worst things I've ever eaten in my entire life—I'm looking squarely at you).
About the author: Michael Nusair is a Toronto-area writer / podcaster / cool dude who likes eating good food and watching Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Sometimes at the same time! You can read about his various eating exploits here and here, and follow him on Twitter at MichaelKN.