Saturday, May 22, 2010

French Fry Diary 113: White Castle, Toms River NJ

Reputedly the first fast food hamburger chain, White Castle has been around for almost ninety years. They’re open 24 hours a day, so that means French fries any time of the day or night – how can there be a downside to this? For just a buck or so you get a cool little box of deep-fried crinkle cuts, perfect for car-munching.

They do get cold real quick however, and do not nuke well. Do not put them in the microwave unless you want sucky fries – soggy or rock hard, depending on how long you set the timer for. It’s just not a good idea. On the upside, they are great for three AM cravings.

Mad dashes in the middle of the night are really what White Castle is all about though. The food is good, but it’s not about the food, it’s about the experience. Like a few weeks ago, friends and I were discussing this French Fry Diary thing, and as always happens when you talk about food – you get hungry. Problem was, it was late, where can you get fries this time of night? That’s right, White Castle.

After locating the semi-closest restaurant, an hour away in Toms River, we were off. The Bride, the Dark Crystal, Jeff and myself drove all the way up to Toms River and met Ray and his bride CL at the 24/7 White Castle there – all this at about two in the morning. A flash of spontaneity, and boom – a middle of the night French Fry Diary roadtrip.

Again, as I said, the fries are standard crinkle cuts that come in those tiny cardboard boxes that everything at White Castle comes in. Good and hot, but it’s the camaraderie that makes White Castle what it is. The 24’7 is most important, and like the movie Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, it’s the journey that counts.

The onion rings are standard diced onion type of onion rings you might find in the grocers freezer, but again, it’s the journey, and the boxes, and the company, and the middle of the night (or anytime). And the onion rings are better than Burger King’s and that’s saying something.

Other goodies that were had on this trip were the chicken rings, and of course those wonderful Sliders, best little hamburger you can get in the middle of the night and eat half a dozen. And don’t forget to read the fun facts on the bottom of the boxes.

The only complaint I might have is related to the perils of being open 24/7 – and that would be the smelly homeless man that was sitting behind us. We didn’t think he was dead but he might have been. That’s okay, he didn’t smell all that much.

All in all, White Castle is recommended, for a variety of reasons, and not all of them food-related. Great experience not matter how you cut it.

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