Thursday, March 12, 2009

French Fry Diary 16: Bella Italia

One of my major missions as a French fries aficionado while visiting London a couple years ago was to have 'real' chips. It was a must.

The first excursion into the land where chip shops and chip carts and lorries abound was an eye opener. They weren’t all they were cracked up to be in legend, at least not to this American. I was reminded of Chinese take-out places when we arrived at our first official chip shop. It was not at all what I expected. We saw nothing when it came to the cooking of the chips, but they were delivered to us over the counter in wax paper, so that part of the legend held up.

The chips themselves were not all that great, larger than steak cut potatoes, natural cut and very greasy. The only thing sadly that differentiated them from anything special or extraordinary was simply the fact that we were in London when we ate them. To say I was disappointed is a serious understatement.

Later during the trip, after meeting friends at London’s famous comic book shop of the gods, Forbidden Planet, we all wanted to go to lunch together and decided on a franchise place called Bella Italia. I had never heard of it before our trip but on our time in London and the vicinity had seen many of these. It’s typical Italian fare, and from what I heard from the rest of our party, the food was pretty good.

Me, being me, and a catastrophically fussy eater, I got a hamburger and fries. Great burger actually, and lo and behold, the 'fries' that came were really 'chips,' and the kind of chips I had heard whispered in legend as coming from the UK. They were thick cuts, like steak fries but wide on all sides, golden brown, crisp on the outside and soft and hot within. I couldn’t get enough but one serving was more than filling. These were truly the fries of the gods.

All that and good friends and good conversation made the trip to Bella Italia in London one of the highlights of my time in London. Real chips... mmmm...



Timothy said...

I have to agree with you wholeheartedly. Every single one of the Bella Italia London restaurants serve some of the best chips in london. I've never been disappointed eating there.

Glenn Walker said...

I agree with you, and thank you for commenting on this entry, sir!

When I return to London, Bella Italia is on my definite visit list.