Christie Vymazal brought out a giant sandwich, heaping with so much fresh smoked brisket it had to be impaled with a knife to keep it structurally upright.
Like everything else Vymazal and her husband, Matt, make, the sandwich’s contents are all made from scratch, in-house and with a Canadian spin. The sandwich, known as “May The Schwartz Be With You” is just one of the crazy delicious dishes in store for anyone who stops by The Flying V Poutinerie, the couple’s new restaurant in South Bethlehem.
The restaurant, which occupies the site of the former Hot Plate Southern Kitchen, is the latest venture for the Vymazals, who run the enormously popular food truck, the Flying V. The menu builds upon the food truck’s favorites and offers new options designed to bust your diet.
But before we get to new stuff, let’s chat about poutine, because that’s the dish that made the Vymazals famous in the Valley.
There are a few restaurants that offer poutine in the Valley, but it’s truly the Flying V that put it on the map here. They started their truck back in 2017 specializing in the signature dish of Christie Vymazal’s Quebec.
If you’re wondering how to pronounce the dish, most Americans call it “pu-teen.” But to be authentic and if you can carry off a French accent, say “pu-tin.”
The Vymazals make a true poutine, with every part of it fresh and scratch-made. It starts with hand-cut fries, cooked until crispy and golden. Then those crispy fries are topped with fresh cheese curds, which are little nuggets of mild cheese with a firm texture that produce a pleasant “squeak” in your mouth when you eat them. Over top of that, Matt Vymazal adds his beef gravy, a magical sauce with well seasoned, deep earthy flavor. (And of course it’s made entire from scratch).
The curds are key. If you’ve had this before and the cheese is a sauce or is completely melted, you had cheese fries with gravy.
Their poutine comes in that standard model but also in a wide variety of styles, including a vegetarian option with a delicious shiitake mushroom gravy.
Now at their new restaurant, they have the space and equipment to really spread their wings, menu-wise. The Flying V Poutinerie’s opening was more than a month delayed, understandable of course with everything going on.
And while they worked to get the restaurant up and running, their truck ran into a state bureaucratic mess over whether they could operate during the shutdown last spring. (End result: State made a mistake and they were allowed to operate).
Despite that hiccup, they still offered people the chance to “pay what they can” for their poutine as a way to bring joy, acknowledging that so many are out of work or enduring furloughs and layoffs. Matt Vymazal made folks smile with his unique curb-side delivery system: Masked up, he carried the bag of ordered food out on a sanitized hockey stick, which earned social media praise from the NHL.
Their new restaurant is open and the space is charming, with exposed beams, warm decor and ample spacing between seats.
For those still wary of dining in, you can of course take out.
Now, on to the menu: On a very basic level, you can now customize your poutine, adding toppings such as pickled jalapenos, onions or fresh salsa. (Pickled jalapenos are an excellent choice for poutine if you like it hot because the heat can help cut through and balance all that richness.)
A new poutine to try: The Montreal, which features Montreal-smoked brisket, Dijon mustard and dill pickles. It’s a true flavor bomb, with a balance of rich, salty, acidic and sweet-sour.
Along with the poutines, they have a menu of Canadian fusion items. Among them is the NAFTA, and you may want to sit down for this description. It’s a poutine burrito stuffed with your choice of ground beer and chorizo or buffalo chicken, cheese curds, fries, a little drizzle of the famous gravy, pickled red cabbage, homemade salsa, pickled jalapenos and lime crema. Basically, your taste buds don’t know where to begin. It’s a lot like a portable poutine with zips of heat and an array of interesting textures. You’re not likely to find anything like this dish anywhere in the Valley.
Then there’s the aforementioned May the Schwartz Be With You. It’s a delicious mountain of meat between soft rye, with yellow mustard and house-made pickles. The brisket is smoked in-house and hand-carved so you get big chunky slices. It’s incredibly flavorful and peppery, which the rich meat needs for balance. Note: Due to the size of the sandwich we need to warn you that it’s nap-inducing.
Bottom line: This is fresh, impeccably made comfort food. In times like these, you need exactly this kind of food.
What: The Flying V Poutinerie
Where: 201 E. Third St. Bethlehem
Hours: Noon to 9 p.m. Thursday; noon to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
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