Top 10 French fries in the Twin Cities
A favorite side takes center stage
Despite that brief, embarrassing episode with the so-called freedom fries, a certain slice of Americana requires a plate of French fries. From a diner burger to sopping up the white wine and butter from mussels, from a perfectly cooked steak to a fat piece of cod, fries are an outstanding side. However, it's time to put the fry first. After many plates, baskets, and cones, we sorted through the soggies and compiled a list of the very best French fries to be found in the Twin Cities.
Red Stag delivers supper club atmosphere and great fries
There's something sad about a pale French fry. That little slice of potato was brought close to reaching its potential of crispy goodness and then denied. Lost to incorrect oil temperature, overcrowding, or some other laziness in preparation, and often oversalted in a sad attempt to compensate for its limpness, a light-colored, subpar fry is always a disappointment. For fries that will never let you down, look to Northeast's welcoming Red Stag Supper Club. The triple cooking of these starchy pleasures ensures a crisp, golden brown crust on each fry. The light parsley and garlic flavorings enhance but don't overpower the potato, which on the inside has an almost creamy consistency. It's been said that these oversized fries resemble French toast sticks, and that's not off the mark--the potatoes' caramelized outer layers even have a little sweetness in them. But fast-food breakfast sticks never tasted this good. During a long winter that can render some of us paler than the saddest-looking fry, these hot, nicely browned beauties provide much-needed comfort. (509 First Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612.767.7766)
Onion-rific -- these fries are internationally known
Photo courtesy Amsterdam Bar and Hall
The first thing you need to do when eating these terrific fries is to stop worrying about your breath. Yes, these French fries come topped with raw onions, and no, you shouldn't just eat around them. Potatoes and onions are one of those perfect flavor combinations, and it's not to be shied away from. If you're already part of a couple, a little temporary onion breath shouldn't be a deal-breaker (or just get your significant other to eat some too), and if you're on a first date (or on the prowl), well, bring a travel toothbrush or something. When you order "frites" at the Amsterdam, you'll want to enjoy them to the fullest. These fries are cooked Belgian-style and are perfectly seasoned, full of flavor but not too salty. They're skin-on and hearty, but not so big as to get soggy. Most of the fries come out perfectly crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, with the little ones rendered deliciously crunchy throughout. Even the condiments here are superior versions. There are seven house-made varieties to choose from, with herb-garlic mayo and curry ketchup being standouts as fry-dippers. (6 W. Sixth St., St. Paul; 651.222.3990)
Bacon cheeseburgers arrive with these tart, salty fry favorites
The Mall of America may not be destination dining, but there have been times while roaming the massive halls behind the shuffling masses when inspiration hits like a thunderbolt. That grumbling slowly working its way from the base of your stomach up to your throat can easily be satiated by one fantastic plate of fries. Skinny little fries are sprinkled with a malt vinegar powder. Just thinking about them gets the salivary glands worked up. Salty, tart, and small enough to easily gobble one after another, a plate of these fries makes navigating that Saturday parking ramp situation a breeze. (130 N. Garden, Bloomington; 952.854.0200)
7. The Wienery
The colorful clientele and interior at the Wienery enhances their fries
Chicago-style hot dogs (and damn good ones) are the headliners at this West Bank institution, but they put just as much care into their hand-cut French fries. A far cry from the cybernetic fries most restaurants peddle, the Wienery's creations always taste more of the potato than the fryer, proving that food made fast doesn't have to taste like fast food. (414 Cedar Ave.,Minneapolis; 612.333.5798)
Elegant digs doesn't mean they don't dish a tasty plate of fries
Golden French fries in a silvery bucket on a white china tray--Bar Lurçat doesn't serve mere fries, it presents a treasure of spuds. The fries themselves are ultra-fried, crisp as the dickens outside, creamy and potato-rich inside. Each bite of these tawny 3-D strips has you reveling in the texture of the moment and chasing the next bite: Will it be more crisp? More earthy? More creamy? And hence an obsession is born. The béarnaise that accompanies them is less like a béarnaise and more like an intense cheese--piquant, salty, and lush. The price of $6 is steep, but the portion serves two, and you should keep in mind that you aren't just paying for fries, you're investing in treasure. (1624 Harmon Pl., Minneapolis; 612.486.5500)
Fat and fluffy Anchor makes a proper chip
In these, the halcyon days of the gastropub, the French fry is being taken very seriously. There are excellent spuds in many of the higher-end dining rooms about town, but to a purist, the perfect French fry needs neither a béarnaise nor a truffling nor a silver serving pail to be seriously good eating (and spending more than $5 for them is just nuts). Luckily, the fries being served up at Anchor are simplicity itself. The potatoes are hand-cut, blanched, fried to order, and tossed in a coat of kosher salt. No secret spice blend or overnight soak--the only thing secret about these taters is the exact concoction of oil they're fried in. The result: fluffy and dreamy on the inside, crispy on the outside. They are the ultimate simple man's food on a simple man's budget--$2 for a small, $3.50 for a large. (302 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612.676.1300)
The French may call them frites, but a fry by any other name tastes just as sweet
Not only are the fries at Café Barbette tasty, they're pretty, too. Served in a white ceramic bowl, they're cut in long, slender rectangles with golden edges and glistening sides. They curve slightly inward, piled high on top of one another like a fried potato orgy. Four bucks will get you a small serving, $6 a large. Some people enjoy the purity of a plain French fry--just salt, nothing crazy--but the pomme frites, as they're called at the French-themed cafe, also come with small silver cups of catsup and homemade saffron aioli. Toward the bottom of the bowl, the fries turn into crispy baby spudlings and it's necessary to eat five or six at a time just to get your fix. For this, however, you might need to use a fork--the price we all must pay for gluttony. (1600 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612.827.5710)
The additional sauce does not hurt this fry's ranking
The French know their fries. Arriving in a cone they are served alongside a healthy heaping of béarnaise sauce. The frites at Meritage are shatter-crisp shells, enveloping downy, fluff potato. Seriously seasoned, with fat flecks of salt, they are irregularly shaped and pinkie finger sized. The cone of wonder envelopes your crunchy little savories keeping them crispy -- they don't get too close together when the steam can make them crumple. Also, not being able to see the bottom means that when you find that final little potato shard, it's always a surprise that you ate the whole thing. (410 St. Peter St., St. Paul; 651.222.5670)
The best of sweet and savory, is there anything that isn't wonderful at Sun Street?
Photo courtesy Sun Street Breads
While Solveig Tofte was off perfecting her breads and pastrys (and make no mistake -- they are perfect) her husband Martin Ouime went to work on the fries. They tried out every combination of potato and frying technique before they landed on their favorite combination. The fries are crispy and long, like skinny beckoning fingers. They whisper, "Come eat us, every one; we'll never make you fat." Wicked, tasty little things, it's so nice to tuck into one of their many sandwiches only to finish off a pile of these exquisite fried beauties. (4600 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis; 612.354.3414)
DING! Fries are done.
Duck fat fries have the ring of a fad. Like the love of bacon, it's hard not to get all meat eaters and a few lapsed vegetarians to agree that duck fat is good. The flavor intensifies whatever is bathed in them: Duck confit is obvious, a perfectly fried egg is another way to go, but there is nothing so sumptuous and beautiful as what happens when duck fat and potato meet. Fried food perfection is achieved when the cooking method enhances the flavor of the ingredient. These fries are undeniably delicious: dark brown with a pleasantly toothy tuber flavor. Alone, these fries are good, but when paired with the garlicky aioli they rocket to a whole other taste plane. These fries are face-meltingly, drive-across-town, wait hours, months, any indeterminate amount of time awesome. Ladies and gentleman, the fry game in town has just been upped. (651.246.3727; website)
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