With the first installment of FRYGEIST concerning fast food joints I felt the need to explore a few places with linens and silver.
The ubiquity of the french fry doesn’t stop at counter service establishments. French fries are (or should be) on the mind of every chef. I used to maintain the belief that any restaurant worth their salt bought whole potatoes and made fries themselves. Now I know better. Making fries is intensive process that requires space and time for peeling, rinsing, blanching, freezing and frying. Many fine restaurants eschew this process in favor of buying processed fries that save space and time. See this link which documents the outing of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon’s use of frozen taters.
I started at Ella and dove into a $5 pile of golden fries (and a pint of a Berryessa IPA). The fries arrived in a copper dish with fresh parsley and flake salt which nicely adheres to the frites. The fries are good. Paired with the beautiful environs and attentive service this could be the best way to spend $10 in Sacramento (tip your server).
I sat down with Grange’s chef Oliver Ridgeway (about another matter) whose kitchen makes from-scratch fries daily. I mentioned fries and his response was, “Pain in my f’in arse…” (He’s British and it sounded more like ah-sss but I like to use arse when I can). I will say his fries are the best that I’ve had in recent memory. Ridgeway maintains one of the strongest farm to table ethoi in town, but I expect that he would take little issue with moving to to the frozen version. Fresh fries are a time suck and the process of freezing is integral to crispiness… so why not bring them in that way? His hand cut Kennebecs are served in a larger portion than Ella’s and a bit of a higher price point ($7) reflects that. Also on the plate is an aioli (er, mayonnaise) and a house-made ketchup that is somehow involved with chipotle peppers. Both are quite good.
Next- A look at some thicker cut contenders…