You can get them straight, curly, waffled, wedged or covered in your favorite condiments. The French fry may be named for another country, but they are truly an American favorite. And we’ve seen the fry move from the side of the dish to the forefront at some establishments. French fries are so much more than fast-food culture has allowed them to be, and here are some exceptional spuds around town made for fry lovers.
Dat Dog may specialize in gourmet hot dogs, but their French fries are just as popular. They offer Poppy Tooker Fries (named after a local radio personality), Cheddar Bacon Ranch Fries, Crawfish Etouffee Fries and Anna’s White Trash Fries (which come fully loaded like a plate of nachos).
Serving almost nothing but the golden delicious dish, 3 Potato 4, who recently moved to a new location at 1235 N. Peters Street in the French Market, is taking a healthy turn on the otherwise unwholesome food. Owner Jehan Strouse opened her franchise based on the two original restaurants in San Francisco. “I wanted to bring healthy, quick vegan food to the community in New Orleans. I’ve been active in the vegan community since I moved here in 2008. We definitely have a strong following, and we’re doing pretty well considering we’re 11 months into it,” says Strouse.
Strouse’s spuds are the epitome of the healthy French fry, and her sauces and salts are just as good and delicious. First, your order your favorite potato: wedge cut, redskins or sweet potato. Then you add a sauce from the extensive selection, which includes Aztec Ketchup, Chipotle Mayo, Chinese Firecracker Ketchup and Krypto Ketchup. Then you pour on some gourmet sea salt such as Ghost Pepper or Hawaiian Black. Your fries come in a cone that you can easily put in one of the holes drilled into the counter for your convenience. And fries aren’t the only thing available on the menu.
“All of our potatoes are baked, not fried, and they’re organic, so that takes all the bad stuff out. We have a convection oven to bake all of our potatoes in four minutes. You can get healthy food quickly. People are busier than ever before; they don’t want to wait around, but they do want to take care of their bodies and eat healthy. Potatoes are full of fiber, potassium and vitamin C. Sweet potatoes have even more vitamin C and vitamin A, we make them without oil and you can get all of these awesome sauces for dipping. People love it. We use vegenaise, which people love; they like it even more than regular mayonnaise. It’s definitely a winning concept. We do get people occasionally who say, ‘You don’t have salads, you don’t have sandwiches.’ But we do have soups and chilies, and soup and potatoes make for a great meal. We’ve recently added coconut-based ice creams; we’ve got four flavors. And we have chocolate frozen bananas. The vegan ice cream sales have definitely picked up over the summer months,” explains Strouse.
French fries are available at almost every restaurant that serves food from all over the world. Boucherie and Brisbi’s both have great Garlic Parmesan Fries. Katie’s and Three Muses load their fries with feta cheese, while Baie Rouge prefers melted brie. Cowbell and Mahony’s Po-Boy Shop like them messy: Cowbell’s Riverbend Fries are covered in local andouille and pimento cheese and Mahony’s Dirty Fries are smothered in roast beef debris and cheese. The nostalgic arcade-meets-restaurant Barcadia has a full menu of gourmet street food that includes a surfeit of tasty fries. You can get them Cheese’d with cheddar and Monterey Jack; PBP’d with pork belly preserves; Truffle Parm’d with shaved parmesan and white truffle oil; Deli’d with local pastrami, Swiss cheese, and Abita Andygator mustard; Sloppy’d with braised pork and bacon or you can eat some with a dead guy … Dead Guy Ale BBQ sauce, that is.
You don’t even have to go into a restaurant for fries; as food trucks grow in popularity, many of them have adopted French fries as a great side to their wares. Food Drunk offers Duck Fat Fries. One food truck serves fries exclusively. The Fry Bar serves their delicious fries, such as Garlic, Parmesan and Rosemary, in Chinese takeout boxes with whole fried pieces of garlic, melted cheese, and fragrant whole herbs.
Back in the restaurant, French fries are not just a side; they are featured and celebrated menu items.
Sylvain, located at 625 Chartres Street, pairs their fries with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne for their simple yet elegant Champagne and Fries dish. Co-owner Sean McCusker explains the unusual pairing: “Basically the dish came up because I met one of the head guys from Veuve Clicquot at an event in New York City. I was living there and working in the magazine business and I attended an event they sponsored. After many glasses of champagne I asked him what his favorite food to eat with champagne was and he told me ‘pomme frites’ while looking at me like I was an idiot. The next day I went to Brasserie Les Halles and tried the combination. It was awesome, and I said that if and when I ever had a restaurant I would put it on the menu.” Delachaise also serves some high-end pomme frites fried in goose fat and served with vinegar aioli and peanut satay, and La Crêpe Nanou serves fries with their mussels.
The Irish House at 1432 St. Charles Avenue recently featured five new fries on their Chipper Menu, ranging from the traditional to the exceptional, such as the Curry, Coleslaw & Cheese Chips, Scotch Egg Chips and Truffle Mushroom Chips. The potatoes are freshly cut, blanched in a water/vinegar mix, steamed and then fried before being topped with ingredients like gravy, garlic mayonnaise, or traditional curry.
Chef Matt Murphy explains his new French fries: “I’m going to be honest: it’s a pain in the ass to do fresh French fries, and there aren’t many places doing it. When you eat a fresh French fry, you know the difference. What you want is soft inside, crispy outside. This is the thing that I feel sets us apart, sometimes to our detriment because people are expecting the fries that are made from corn flour and are dry, almost overcooked. A French fry is a potato; it’s going to soften up when you cook it.”
The Irish House will be featuring some new dishes along with the Chipper Menu, aiming for a gastro-pub menu with more modern takes on Irish food to keep patrons interested. “We’re trying to be inventive, always trying something different. If we made jambalaya all the time, people would get sick of it. We want to try to incorporate New Orleans cooking and flavors into a pub concept, which is hard to do. Sometimes we get it right; sometimes we get it wrong. But we’re always trying, and we’ll get there,” says Murphy.
If you’re a die-hard meat-and-potatoes person, Crescent City Steaks at 1001 North Broad Street has plenty of both for you. While enjoying a well-cooked rib eye, strip sirloin or porterhouse steak, a good potato can soak up the succulent juices without overpowering the meaty flavor on your palette. All of their spuds are hand-cut and prepared daily, and their offerings run the gamut from traditional French fries to time-honored European potatoes.
Manager Frank Vojkovich explains their selection: “Lyonnaise potatoes are premium red potatoes boiled, then sliced and pan-fried with thinly sliced onions sautéed with butter, parsley and seasonings. Brabant potatoes are cut into small cubes and fried, then sprinkled with salt; some customers ask for the Brabant potatoes to be sprinkled with a garlic butter sauce. Cottage Fries are cut into slices a little thicker than potato chips. German Fries are premium red potatoes boiled, sliced thickly and round, then fried. But our most popular fried potatoes are the shoestrings.”
It’s hard to resist the lure of this crispy golden treat, especially when slathered with molten cheeses and savory sauces. They’re the perfect snack dish when watching the game or having a quick late-night meal. Get out of the drive-thru line and learn about the joys of a true French fry.