New Houston Restaurant Tubs Poutine Is Now Open In The Energy Corridor
“You say potato, I say poutine.” That’s the motto of new Houston restaurant Tubs Poutine at 13429 Briar Forest in the Energy Corridor.
For being such a large city with a wealth of cuisines, poutine isn’t readily available. Diners can find it on the menu at The Maple Leaf Pub, Karbach Brewing Company and Bernie’s Burger Bus, but it’s offered as a side dish instead of the main course. BB’s Cajun Cafe has long offered a non-traditional take called Tex-Cajun Fries (formerly Tex-Cajun Virgin) that swap queso for cheese curds. With the debut of Tubs, though, the Canadian comfort food gap in Houston is now taken care of.
Tubs is the brainchild of Brian Nguyen, who fell in love with poutine on a trip to Toronto in 2017. He pitched the idea to his sister Caroline Nguyen and the duo immediately got down to business. The restaurant is named after Brian’s son, who’s described as the “happiest little tubby guy there is.” They recruited chef Lyle Mathes, formerly of Grand Lux Cafe. Mathes has also cooked for The Jimmy Kimmel Show, the Houston Rockets, New England Patriots, and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Mathes stands tall at 6’8″ and brings large zeal to his cooking, too. Poutine, in its base form, is simple—french fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Mathes says all of the fries at Tubs are fresh, never frozen. The gravy isn’t a cookie-cutter brown gravy either. Tubs gravy has added Hennessy for extra kick. No, you won’t pick up a buzz while eating poutine, as all of the alcohol cooks out. In this case, it bonds with fat and water molecules, improving taste and giving the gravy more fragrance.
The creativity doesn’t stop there. While Tubs does offer a classic poutine, there are five enhanced options that shouldn’t be missed. The Tubs is topped with certified Angus beef, applewood smoked bacon, and grilled onions. La Banquise has slow-cooked, barbecued pulled pork and a balanced coleslaw with just enough vinegar to cut through the hearty meal.
La Quebec is covered in marinated chicken that’s reminiscent of a bowl of Vietnamese bun ga nuong along with buttery peas. We were surprised with how much we enjoyed the chicken on top of poutine.
The G-Spot is the “healthy option”: vegetarian poutine topped with a half-pound of seasonal vegetables and served with vegetarian gravy. Mathes plans to change the vegetables throughout the year.
The Bib is the piece de resistance. Only available Friday through Sunday, this poutine is topped with a generous portion of oxtail that’s braised overnight. The oxtail meat is served on the bone, but ours quite literally fell of upon a touch.
Tubs also serves a secret family recipe Vietnamese imperial egg roll. Doc Rolls, named after the Nguyen’s father, are filled with shrimp and ground pork and is the only item on the menu that isn’t gluten-free.
One last menu item that demands attention: Brenny Cakes are cheese curds covered in pancake batter and deep fried until crispy and fluffy. By default, these are served savory but also also available for dessert and topped with powdered sugar. Tubs also offers plenty of dipping sauces that can be ordered on the side. Our table enjoyed the Jalapeno Butter and Hennessy Cream options.
Tubs is still in the process of trying to acquire a beer and wine license which may prove to be futile thanks to the neighboring Westside Montessori School. For now, it is operating as a BYOB establishment.
Josh Armendariz is Houston Food Finder’s lead freelance beer and cocktail writer. He can often be found on a stool at your favorite bar, sipping a hoppy craft beer and talking about the Astros with anyone who’ll lend an ear. Follow him on Instagram at @drinkwithjosh.