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Crawling Berkeley: The fantastic French fry!
Posted By Eunice Choi On Nov 15, 2011 @ 1:07 pm In The Specials | Comments Disabled
Two seconds on the lips is two inches on the hips.
Before you reach for that apple pie, think of the space between your thighs.
If you’ve still got your Halloween candy load, props to you, but that’ll run out soon. Thanksgiving is coming up and the feast will be spectacular as ever. The last round of midterms are forcing you to reach for your fourth bowl of cereal at two in the morning. It’s hard enough trying to maintain weight while at college, especially in Berkeley where food is a way of life. The Clog understands, sympathizes and hands you an imaginary handkerchief.
However, this doesn’t prevent us from going balls-out when it comes to our latest crawl: Fantastic French fries in Berkeley.
Sorry, but your thighs will have to deal with a tiny bit of less space if you decide to wholeheartedly jump in with us on exploring several of the places with golden, fabulously crispy, unbearably sultry potatoes that your mouth can indulge in.
CROSSROADS (LATE NIGHT)
Address: 2415 Bowditch St.
Maybe you don’t like dining commons food. Maybe you’re not even involved with meal points anymore. However, it’s highly recommended that you try out Crossroads’ Late Night fries. The a la carte assortment that is offered is regular fries, cheese fries, chili cheese fries, garlic fries, occasional sweet potato fries and tater tots. Yes, tater tots can, must and do fall under the “French fries” category in the Clog’s book (and you’ll soon learn why). Crossroads’s French fries are of medium cut and taste pretty decent — at least above the standards of what you’d expect from a dining common. The garlic fries are, admittedly, excessively oily/buttery and can get tiring rather quickly, but the cheese fries are a solid option. The addition of chili is certainly encouraged if you’re in the mood for it. Yes, yes the fries are fine. But we will state this now: It is a sin to not try the tater tots. These little things are the fluffiest, sexiest things to pop into your mouths at one in the morning. No lies. No exaggeration, period. They’re absolutely delicious and have a slight, audible crunch right before your teeth sink into their lush interiors. With or without ketchup, these babies hit the spot. Take our word for it.
LOONEY’S SMOKEHOUSE BBQ
Address: 2190 Bancroft Way
Looney’s specialty is obviously BBQ and so its wedge-cut fries are not the most spectacular things on this planet (sadly), but in the case you do go there and are curious about ordering a side of some good French fries, we suggest the chili fries and chili cheese fries because both portions and toppings are very generous. One Clogger was able to make the chili cheese fries into a meal by themselves, and considering that he’s a guy (with a manly appetite to match), this is saying something. The fries are soft and greasy yet still retain the dominant potato taste. Since they’re wedges, they are thicker than typical fries. As for chili fries, the ingredients involved go beyond ground beef and chili beans. There’s also sausages, beef strips and sweetened tomatoes. Talk about livin’ it up, and we’re only drooling over fries here.
Address: 2355 Telegraph Ave.
“Airbaked fries,” they say. Smart Alec’s boasts of a menu that is devoted to healthy alternatives to the usual greasy burgers, fries and so forth. Uh oh – did the phrase “healthy alternatives” already make you pause? You’re after discovering great French fries, not healthy anything. No worries though because, honestly, the fries here don’t force us to sacrifice taste and quality for less cholesterol and fat. Moreover, the portions are so ridiculously generous that we can’t even handle it. Props to Smart Alec’s. You can opt for Smart (regular), garlic or chili cheese fries. All three are pretty damn fantastic. The fries are generally soft without too much crispiness, yet definitely not soggy or leaking of grease. Smart fries could possibly end up being a bit bland since they are somewhat dense and not salted. If you’re at Smart Alec’s, try going for fries with more flavor. The garlic fries are, in the Clog’s humble opinion, genuine representations of fries that can somehow taste simultaneously healthy and sinful — and the general public seems to like ‘em almost as much as we do. Although we can’t deny that the garlic fries are greasier than Smart fries, the oil is modest. What is powerful is the garlic aroma, which can be either incredibly pleasing or slightly overwhelming (depending on whether or not you’re a vampire). There are diced garlic bits mixed in with the fries so you’d expect the garlic taste to be uncomfortably evident, but that isn’t the case at all. As for the chili cheese fries, let’s just say that opening the plastic container they come in and witnessing the cheese seductively stringing off from the thick, awesome layer of chili is worth it all. Finally, want to know something great that makes Smart Alec’s even cooler than it already is? If you bring a big test or paper that nabbed a winning “A”, Smart Alec’s will give you a free order of garlic fries. And we all know the way to win a college student’s heart is through his or her stomach.
Address: 2175 Allston Way
First and foremost, Saturn Cafe is a vegetarian restaurant. With that being said, it must mean it knows how to do decent French fries since potatoes = vegetables, right? We were correct: The fries here are, although maybe not out of this world (pun intended), have variety and — get this — a creamy wasabi dip. There are sweet potato fries, regular “shoestring” fries, nacho fries, cheese fries, garlic fries, and a variety of other fried items – but we’re focusing on potatoes here. The shoestring and nacho fries seem to receive the most love from customers in search of unique and well done options, but the sweet potato fries are definitely tasty as well. Shoestring fries are very thin, hence the name, and “award winning” (not sure what award though, but specifics don’t matter much at this point). With a superbly crunchy, satisfying texture and flavor, you’ll probably find these vegan fries a good choice. If you’re feeling a bit spicy, opt for jalapenos as toppings. You can also choose among garlic, cheese, or a dipping sauce for extra cost. And if you just don’t swing with skinny French fries, go for the thicker steak fries. As a sweeter option, there are the sweet potato fries that come with the previously mentioned wasabi dip. This dip is rather mild and complements the fries well. Unfortunately, these fries come only in basket-size, but that’s not really a problem as you’ll likely end up eating that many anyway.
Address: 2505 Dwight Way Berkeley, CA 94704
Here’s something that the other places the Clog has crawled lacked: crinkle-cut fries. You know, the wavy fries that look like mini accordions, zigzags, something along those lines? We like to admire pretty stuff when we can. Otherwise, how do these pretty things taste? What sort of personality do these fries have past their prepossessing exteriors? Are these fries shallowly charming, merely fooling us with promises to be delicious until we try them and are disappointed? Fortunately, the crinkle-cut fries proved to have a depth of character and flavor. Other than the fact that these fries initiate nostalgia of our cute childhoods and are super enjoyable to marvel at, they complement the well-reputed burgers and are nothing short of what you’d want in a good French fry. Crispy, mealy, and not overly greasy. Thankfully, salt takes a back seat for these fries. When you combine the fries with the ranch that Bongo Burger has, taste buds are made happy. Order the fries and you won’t regret it.
Address: 1515 Shattuck Ave.
Cesar is a Spanish tapas restaurant (focused on snacks and finger food) nestled in the Gourmet Ghetto. When we saw the price of fries, however, we thought the term “ghetto” was not too applicable. Almost $9 for fries, really? But we thought of you, dear reader. We thought of you, pulled out our wallets, and crossed the threshold. And by God we are sufficiently happy that we did. First of all, their potato wedges, not fries but potato wedges, are made to order. Piping hot, and we may have imagined it but we thought we could hear the crisp shell still crackling. We probably did imagine it but nevertheless you get our point. Secondly, the fries come out with a creamy alioli (Catalan for aioli), which is this un-frickin’-believable “mayonnaise-like garlic-olive-egg concoction”. One modest tip to improve your experience at Cesar is to mix in some bravas sauce (tastes like a sexy combo of chili sauce and mayonnaise) and voila! You got some extraordinary, albeit pricey, fries at hand to consume. Although if you came with your crush then you’d probably try to eat like a bird but … Ah, yeah, don’t bother trying, these thangs are too good. If you’re looking for a brief escape from those stressful midterms and student loans, try out these babes. Just a warning though: You will probably be tempted and do well to order other tapas though because of the small portions.
Address: 2395 Telegraph Ave.
Another point for vegetarians here. Maoz’s menu is vegetarian and the food here has gotten some envy-worthy praise for its Mediterranean falafel pita sandwiches and salads. But let us focus on the task at hand: reviewing the fries, mhmm. Maoz offers two types of fries: Belgian and Sweet Potato. The Clog admittedly had to look up what exactly made Belgian fries well, Belgian. According to a site titled The One and Only Belgian Fries website , these fries are freshly cut and irregularly shaped, fried twice, “fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside” (aren’t all fries supposed to be like this?), at least 10 mm thick (oh my, they have measurements) and preferably served in a paper cone. Well, we don’t know if Maoz exactly places rulers next to every single potato strip before tossing it into oil, but the fries do come in a characteristic paper cone. Besides being aesthetically pleasant, the fries have dedicated themselves to being exactly what we imagine Belgian fries would taste like. Fantastic. The sweet potato fries are also splendid, if slightly more expensive, with a toasted exterior that crunches and immediately turns sweet after a bite. This place is truly fulfilling when it comes to providing an assortment of complementary sauces. Tahini sauce, yogurt sauce, garlic sauce, mayonnaise and – prepare to be blown away – ketchup. Does Maoz get a thumbs up from the Clog? In terms of fries, yes.
I.B. HOAGIES AND CHEESESTEAKS
Address: 2513 Durant Ave.
I.B. Hoagies has the reputation for having mouthwatering “hoagies” (and just a heads up, be on the lookout for a sandwich Crawl coming soon!). The Clog decided to ask, what about the French fries? Well, according to one Clogger, I.B. has the “ultimate selection of fries” – a compliment that we believe any restaurant would be proud to claim. Normal fries, garlic fries, cheese fries, chili cheese fries, curly fries, sweet potato fries, tater tots, criss-cut fries with their own few variations … Yeah, a pretty impressive list. Oh, oh, and you can add bacon bits on top of any fry order. Is this place a heart attack waiting to happen? Who the hell cares? We’re hardworking, hungry college students! And we don’t mean to give I.B. such a reputation because we’re talking about French fries and fried carbs have never exactly fallen under the description of “healthy.” So no pointed fingers. Anyways, there’s only so much that can be said about the more common regular, cheese, and chili cheese fries (all three which are unbelievably fabulous by the way) so let’s delve into the more intriguing: curly fries. In fact, the curly fries are one of our many recommendations to try out at I.B. because to put it in simple terms, these fries are “delicious, greasy and crunchy.” Three beautiful adjectives that initiate the beginnings of any person’s greatest culinary fantasies. Also, curly fries are so much fun to play with, all springy and glorious in their potato-y swirls. Just grab any order of fries from here and we’re pretty certain that you’ll be satisfying your guilty pleasure for greasy, crispy food.
BARNEY’S GOURMET HAMBURGER
Address: 1600 Shattuck Ave.
Don’t let the price range fool you into thinking that this place is irrational. Full orders are large enough for sharing between three to five people as an appetizer – if you’re the sharing sort of person. That being said, if the group consists of solely males then the number of orders might need adjustment, but the fries at Barney’s are overall yummy, appealing and fresh. So what’s on the fries menu of this classic burger joint? Steak-cut or skinny fries, sweet potato fries, chili cheese fries and spicy curled fries. The steak-cut and skinny fries are “not crazy-gourmet stuff,” more of your standard restaurant fries, but are still crispy, salted well and passably good. The sweet potato fries are thin, crunchy, evenly fried and much better than those you can get at the dining commons. Chili cheese fries are rich, heavy and can be ordered only as a full order. However, the liberal amount of chili and gooey cheese on top of the fries silences all potential complaints. Best out of all are the spicy curly fries (unless you don’t like spicy). These glorious potatoes are thoroughly spiced with salt, pepper, garlic and paprika. And just like I.B. Hoagies’s curly fries, they’re fun. Especially those really long curls. Yep. Entertainment at its best.
Can we, the Clog staff members, just say screw the system and go for that apple pie? Or if that’s still intolerable, we have come up with a foolproof solution: Eat pumpkin pie instead. (In case you didn’t get it, we’re still extending that pie metaphor we opened with. Love the extended metaphors.)
Oh come on, this is the time of the year where we all try to find loopholes in everything. Pretend it really was the dryer that shrank your skinny jeans and not your stomach. We’ll go along with it as well. You have our word.
Article printed from The Daily Clog: http://clog.dailycal.org
URL to article: http://clog.dailycal.org/2011/11/15/crawling-berkeley-the-fantastic-french-fry/
URLs in this post:
 The One and Only Belgian Fries website: http://www.belgianfries.com/bfblog/?page_id=1426
 Gudlyf: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gudlyf/3862654181/
 The Clog goes building hopping: http://clog.dailycal.org/2011/10/18/crawling-berkeley-the-clog-goes-building-hopping/
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