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Archive for Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Serious spuds: Local restaurants step up servings of gourmet fries

Sous Chef Pedro Concepcion flips some sweet potato fries at The Burger Stand at Dempsey’s, 623 Vt. They’re seasoned with cumin, cinnamon and sugar. Dempsey’s is one of several restaurants in Lawrence to offer French fries with unique, gourmet seasonings.

Sous Chef Pedro Concepcion flips some sweet potato fries at The Burger Stand at Dempsey’s, 623 Vt. They’re seasoned with cumin, cinnamon and sugar. Dempsey’s is one of several restaurants in Lawrence to offer French fries with unique, gourmet seasonings.

May 13, 2009

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Some of the French fries at The Burger Stand at Dempsey’s: Sweet potato fries, duck-fat fries and truffle fries.

Some of the French fries at The Burger Stand at Dempsey’s: Sweet potato fries, duck-fat fries and truffle fries.

The french fry.

From its humble beginnings in Belgium (not France), the fried potato became an American classic with the rise of our fast-food nation, and now it’s become the latest dish to be given a foodie revolution redux.

For an illustrated example, look no further than the menu board at The Burger Stand at Dempsey’s, 623 Vt. The list is as decadent and gourmet as one can get in the french fry world: sweet potato fries, truffle fries, duck-fat fries.

These are not the spuds you’ll find in little white envelopes at your local drive-through. And they’re not meant to be, says Codi Albright, co-owner of The Burger Stand.

“Going with the whole gourmet-burger theme, they thought doing something unique to the fries was going to be what would work best for the situation we’re in,” Albright says of chefs Robert Krause and Simon Bates, who collaborated on the menu.

Each fry has been tweaked to create a gourmet flavor, says Albright. The sweet potato fries have been kicked up with cumin, cinnamon and sugar. The truffle fries are tossed in a butter made from three different truffle products. As for the duck fat fries, a bit of orange zest, herbs and shallots are meant to balance the “creamy” heaviness of the special cooking fat.

In addition, every sauce that is served with the fries has something extra to it: there’s a cherry-pepper ketchup, guajillo chile dip and roasted garlic aioli.

“They’re a fry, you expect a certain flavor, and you get it,” Albright says. “And to be able to change that a little bit while still maintaining some of the familiarity of the actual fry itself and kind of that comfort that it has, I guess, to complement a meal, is cool.”

Even fries that don’t have gourmet written all over them go well beyond the basic frozen fry dreamed up in the 1940s by J.R. Simplot — the man who helped McDonald’s revolutionize dining in the 1960s.

The folks at 5 Guys Burgers & Fries, 2040 W. 31st St., spend a good chunk of time each morning cutting the day’s fries out of potatoes shipped in 50-pound bags, says manager Jessica Gipp.

“It’s down to an art form here,” says Gipp, who adds that the potatoes the company uses are grown just for 5 Guys. “With the fries, once they’re cut they have to soak under running water that runs clear for 15 minutes to help remove all the starch off all the potatoes. And even with the cooking process, they have a blanching where they get cooked for two minutes. And then they sit for two minutes and then they have a final cook process of two minutes. It’s like a science, but it’s a little bit more of an art form.”

Also working with whole potatoes each morning are the folks at Local Burger, 714 Vt., says owner Hilary Brown. She says that because of her restaurant’s commitment to local food, real potatoes are the only option, even if it means using different types of potatoes — from russet to yukon — throughout the year.

“I want to be able to use real potatoes because, hopefully, as the local food market continues to grow over the next decade, I’m assuming we’ll have a lot of potatoes around here and some that we may be able to store throughout the year, so we’re always using local potatoes,” Brown says. “It just meant a lot to me to be able to purchase real potatoes.”

Beth Beaver, a bartender at Vermont Street BBQ, 728 Mass., believes the demand for fries can only go up. She says that though not labeled gourmet, the fries at her restaurant are incredibly popular, with folks sometimes going for just baskets of sweet potato fries or regular fries that are hand-seasoned in the back.

“Everybody loves fries,” Beaver says. “I like fried food a lot, I think a lot of people love fried ... greasiness.

“I’m all for it.”

Comments

awl 5 years, 5 months ago

The fries at Dempseys are sooooo delicious!

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threetoedsloth 5 years, 5 months ago

I'm with Original_Me. 5 Guys are my favorites. I almost managed to eat every one they gave me last time!

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cobaltblue 5 years, 5 months ago

Best fries in Kansas City are at Arthur Bryant's. Twice fried in lard. Oklahoma Joe's fries are a close second. Worth the trip.

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Sigmund 5 years, 5 months ago

5 Guys fries are great as are Authur Bryant's (downtown) and Oklahoma Joe's (all locations). Local Burger fries are simply terrible. Someone should tell Hillary that potatoes grown more than a 100 miles from Lawrence are in fact "real potatoes" and the proper variety for frying are available all year round.

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Janet Lowther 5 years, 5 months ago

I have to agree the Local Burger fries are very good, especially the sweet potato ones.

But the best regular fries I've encountered are at Rosedale Barbecue on Southwest Blvd. in KCKS. Fabulous. No detectable special seasonings, but superb! I suspect they are frying 'em in something dietitians really hate, like real lard or tallow. . .

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lori 5 years, 5 months ago

I have recently eaten at local burger, and I love their fries. I think their food has improved exponentially since they opened. Their buffalo burger is great, too.

Dempsey's wins, though. I've only had the regular fries and the sweet potato fries--both were fabulous. The burgers are so good, it's spoiled me for most other places.

I would have never ever gone to 5 Guys, but after the comments and article, I'd like to try them.

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TheStig 5 years, 5 months ago

jrlii (Anonymous) says… I have to agree the Local Burger fries are very good, especially the sweet potato ones."

Last time I was at Local Burger they didn't have sweet potato fries.

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Aileen Dingus 5 years, 5 months ago

IMO- best fast food fries are In-n-Out. Pity there isn't one within a thousand miles of here. :(

Dempsey's fries make me want to lick the paper in the basket. swoon I like them even more than the burgers. I've had the truffle and the sweet potato. Both are superb.

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mom_of_three 5 years, 5 months ago

Yes, I would agree that In-n-out Fries are the best I have had.
When we went to one, you could see the person in the kitchen cutting up all the potatoes. I imagine there was someone else pealing them, too.

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PapaB 5 years, 5 months ago

If someone spends $12 at 5 guys on one meal, that's way too much food for one person.

I really like their fries, especially with the cajun seasoning

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reneej28 5 years, 5 months ago

yeah, the trick at 5 guys is to get a little burger and split an order of fries with someone else. then it's pretty cheap for awesome food, and they give you so many fries, there's still usually some left over!

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Clickker 5 years, 5 months ago

5 Guys fries are pretty damm good. They are the closest to east coast boardwalk fries that you will find around here.

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Dover 5 years, 5 months ago

I think it's funny that the lady at Five Guys says making their fries is an art form. I don't consider a routine at a fast-food restaurant to be an art form, but I'm sure some folks will disagree.

My other immediate thought was how much water they must waste for each batch of potatoes -- water that runs clear for 15 minutes!? Wowsas.

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gr 5 years, 5 months ago

Beaver says. “I like fried food a lot, I think a lot of people love fried ... greasiness."

Guess so. Just have a look around.

Round.

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mae 5 years, 5 months ago

jrlii, true on rosedale. i do all the cooking in my house and it's their old oil. just like a finely tuned old cast iron pan, older oil holds so many spice flavors it is it's own taste.

god i miss that place, it's been years.

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