Smothered in gravy and laden with cheese, poutine is a national treasure.

Though this artery-clogging delight traces its roots to the Belle Province, the dish has been adopted in Edmonton as a local delicacy.

Variations on the quintessential Canadian dish are endless in Alberta's capital city, and determining what makes the perfect recipe can be a test of the taste buds.

Poutine can be polarizing.

To determine which poutine is worthy of being called a masterpiece, Edmonton AM enlisted the help of two local food critics — Liane Faulder, a food writer with Postmedia, and Phil Wilson, with BaconHound food blog.

The CBC morning show invited the two foodies in studio to sample goodies from the highest-rated poutine restaurants in Edmonton: Dixie Lee in Bonnie Doon and My Fries, located downtown.

'They're so much more fun when they're squeaky'

The classic Montreal-style recipe from Dixie Lee owner Mario Hache had all the essential elements of a palatable poutine: a generous dose of gravy, crispy fries, and, most importantly, fresh cheese curds.

"They're so much more fun when they're squeaky," Faulder said through a mouthful of fries.

"I wonder sometimes, can other people hear my curds squeaking in my mouth? It's really remarkably fresh."

'Without cheese curds, it's not poutine'

After devouring the Dixie Lee dish, Wilson and Faulder moved on to another high-calorie creation from My Fries, where owners Amy and Maarten Verstoep bake their taters in a convection oven to ensure their fries are "crispy even when cold."

Though the gravy was delicious and the fries incredibly crispy, both Faulder and Wilson agreed: the poutine lacked that quintessential squeak.

"There is a lot of cheese on here and lots of gravy. That's kind of my pet peeve with poutine sometimes, is they're a little light on the gravy, and then you're searching the plate for it," Wilson said. 

"But the squeaky curds make it for me. It's the one defining feature of poutine that makes it poutine. The fries can change, the gravy can change from beef to chicken, that's all fine.

"But without cheese curds, it's not poutine for me."

Where's your go-to spot for pinnacle poutine in Edmonton? Share your suggestions in the comment section below.