Of all the rabid regionalists whom I fear encountering in a dark alley, it's the poutine people I dread the most. Cornered, you swear on a squeaky curd never to confuse the exalted junk food with disco fries, and the last words you hear before it all goes dark are, "When I was in Montreal . . ."
Well, you're not — you're beside the Union Oyster House, at Saus, a street-food hole-in-the-wall lined with Tintin comics, eating fries of Belgian inspiration under the gravy-and-cheese-curd treatment of Canadian provenance, alongside dips with names like "Green Monster." Have mercy on the curmudgeons!
Saus serves crisp, blond frites in three sizes: petit ($4), regular ($5.50), or Belgian ($7), which here is a dimension, not a preparation. Add a deep-fried egg for $1.50. What fun it is to stick the yolk and watch it bleed a rich, goldenrod cascade down an architecture of fries, then crunch up its frizzled edges. Chicken and veal stock form the base of the poutine's ($6/petit; $8/Belgian) mild velouté, pooling around an ersatz potato pudding tossed with cubish cheddar-cheese curds. They did not squeak, but a layer or two down, they melted into languid curls. The gestalt is good but a bit restrained, as poutine goes. A first visit offered a preponderance of tiny fry shards; later, cones contained more uniform frites and few vestigial bits. Flaky salt stuck to fries without shaking to the bottom, a nice touch. Early on, overzealous application overwhelmed even the most pungent dips, but this too was a transgression quickly righted by a later trip. The sauce list ($.75 each) is a playful work in progress, the best of which are based on Saus's clingy homemade mayonnaise. Warm cheddar and Duvel sauce was rather runny, but the "Pegasaus" special — creamed feta, garlic, and lemon — was superbly bright and tangy. Saus's citrusy buttermilk ranch is addictive; the "Bost-onion" features sweet caramelized onion densely swirled in sour cream. House ketchup is complimentary; it joins the sauce list infused with warm curry spices and as a truffle-noted umami bomb.
Liege waffles ($3.50) were sweet and petite, not so crisp, but moist and light. Waffle sauces ($.75) include a bracing, seed-speckled berry syrup, and a lovely, creamy lemon; salt overpowers a dense caramel, and homemade Nutella remains mostly in test phases. There is coffee, tea, and Boylan's bottled sodas, though all this salt and gravy suggested suds. Given Saus's 2 am weekend closing time and proximity to the pubs, I likely got it backward, as Belgian street food is probably meant for following the other kind of sauce.
Saus, located at 33 Union Street in Boston, is open Monday–Thursday, 11 am–12 am; Friday and Saturday, 11 am–2 am; and Sunday, 12 pm–9 pm. Call 617.248.8835