Friday, May 25, 2012

French Fry Roundup (burgers and French food too). And A Couple of Diners

The proliferation of places that serve hand-cut fries made from real potatoes is, for the most part, a good thing. Not everyplace does them well, but 3 recent versions were enjoyable.

The Bad Apple
I've had these a few times, and though they've caused some divisiveness on LTHForum, I have found the Bad Apple's fries to be consistently good. They have a dark color that translates into toasty taste, and althought they're not particularly crisp, there is pleasant texture contrast between the exterior and the fluffy inside. As for the rest of The Bad Apple's food, including the much-praised burgers, I'm not a big fan. They're OK, but the meat seems way too lean for my liking. I do like the refreshing, healthy, herb-laced quinoa salad on offer.

These fries are crisper than the Bad Apple's, and just as tasty. Served with pungent horseradish aioli (available for the asking), these are a nice snack with Troquet's well-curated beer list. What I really love about Troquet though, is that 12 bucks buys you what is essentially a chef-prepared, French version of a "Meat n 3" (actually a Meat n 2 at Troquet). On one occasion, I chose a crisp-skinned, moist piece of trout. On another, it was a generous helping of delicious German sausage. Each $12 entree comes with a side of those fries and an excellent, subtely-dressed mixed green salad.

Burger Joint
This place's biggest claim to fame seems to be that it's open late enough for the area's drunken club-goers to get a greasy, late-night bite on weekends. It just so happens that they also serve what were the best darn fries of this whole recent lot. Very crisp on the outside, very potatoey and soft inside, and generously seasoned with salt. The Heinz ketchup on the side is a significant improvement over Bad Apple's housemade ketchup, too. I liked Burger Joint's juicy, meaty burger a lot too, though like many places, they are too afraid of the salt shaker.

A quick word about two recently opened "modern" diners. I stopped in at Au Cheval for a drink on my way to dinner elsewhere, and was surprised by how cozy the place felt, and how unfussy and untrendy the staff were. They poured a fine gin rickey, and I enjoyed my brief visit enough to plan a return for a meal. At Eggy's Diner I was pretty sure I'd be let down, as that's almost always what happens when The Hungry Hound tweets high praise for some new place and I follow in his footsteps. A glutton for punishment, I ordered some pastrami hash and it basically met my expectations. The darkness of the potatoes and onions added nice flavor, but the pastrami itself tasted cheap and bad. Worse, it was cut into little squares that were chewy and squeaked like fresh cheese curds. Even for diner hash, you need to slice pastrami against the grain before cutting it into smaller pieces. The haphazard knife work ruined the dish.

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