Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village: Poutine proves to be popular ‘secret menu’ treat
A secret menu item was added to the restaurants at the Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village after the general manager wanted a taste of home – Canada.
Executive Chef Drew Tait said poutine, a traditional French Canadian dish, was added to a “secret menu” after the manager one day asked him if he could make the delicacy for him.
“He wanted something that reminded him of home,” Tait said.
After General Manager Eric Ashton shared the ingredients of poutine – French fries, cheese curd and thick brown gravy – Tait whipped up the comfort food for him to enjoy.
He said after the dish was made, they began tossing around the idea of a secret menu.
“Only people in the know know about the menu,” Tait said of the menu that has never been printed. “We tell people and it’s kind of a word of mouth then.”
He said since they always have ingredients for poutine, it is something that will be around for a long time.
“I like the poutine because my style of food is very simple,” he said. “I’m more of a natural chef.”
Rather than using heavy sauces, Tait enjoys using quality ingredients where he can change the food’s profile and move the guests taste palette.
“That’s the cool thing with the poutine,” he said.
Tait put a twist on the traditional dish.
The poutine uses light brown gravy with good quality French fries and mozzarella cheese.
“It’s a mix of light and heavy,” he said. “It’s good when it is a little cool outside. It’s almost like tomato soup, it warms the soul.”
Once the French fries are done cooking they are seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with mozzarella and brown gravy.
“The heat melts the cheese and heats the gravy,” Tait said.
There are three different kinds of poutine offered at Marker92, Waterfront Bar & Bistro and The Nauti Mermaid Dockside Bar & Grill. He said the main place he sees guests order the special item is at the bar because it is a little salty and fills the stomach.
The traditional poutine includes French fries, mozzarella and gravy.
The Floridian poutine includes French fries topped with fried grouper bites, mozzarella and gravy. The dish is then drizzled with lemon aioli.
The loaded poutine includes green onions and sour cream.
“It’s fun,” he said of creating the poutine dishes. “It’s cool because with our general manager having a connection to Canada, he gets to offer the poutine and explain how it all came about.”
The history of poutine, Tait said goes back to the 1950s when it was invented by Warwick Quebec because some of the best cheese curds come from Canada. He said in Canada there are annual festivals that have a theme of poutine.
In addition to the “secret menu” item, Tait said they are looking to roll out their new menu in mid January.
“This is when we change the menu,” he said, and “add things like short ribs and heavy dishes that fit when the temperatures change.”
He said they are making additions to the menu based on their guests’ feedback, which will include small plates.
One of those small plate items will include short ribs slider – shredded short ribs with a little gravy. He said they are also looking to add some dips such as roasted eggplant and mozzarella dip, as well as various types of bruschetta.
“The idea with the small plates is it’s about the experience of sharing with people and being able to get five or six plates and pick and choose and see what you like,” Tait said. “It is the people’s chance to try something new without spending a lot of money or a lot of food to take home.”
Tait’s career began as a dishwasher when he was 13 years old. He said one day the breakfast cook did not show and he learned how to cook eggs.
Eight year ago he became an executive chef in Punta Gorda at the Turtle Club. He began working at the property in 2012 before it was transitioned to Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village.
“Cooking to me is just as much about how they feel when they leave,” he said of the diners.