BEST FRIES - 2003
New York City's famed Lespinasse in the St. Regis Hotel recently closed. Do you care? Of course not, because you got yours. New York may have lost a four-star restaurant with astronomical prices, but Lisa Carlson, an ex-chef de partie from that famed French establishment, has been helming the kitchen of little can-do CafÈ Barbette for the past two years. Even if you don't make it there early enough in the dinner hour for her famed appetizer specials, the best fries around are available all day, from 8:00 a.m. till 1:00 a.m. Handmade, hand-fried, they are brown- and caramel-toned on the outside, rich and whole with the taste of real potatoes paid real attention on the inside, and presented with a little cup of lush and addictive saffron aioli. Aioli--that's French for fancy spicy saucy stuff. But you probably don't care about that either, because to get it you don't have to ask for it by name. You don't even have to put on a suit jacket. All you have to do is just say "fries" and all the fancy, four-star stuff comes along for free.