Monday, September 30, 2013

French Fry Diary 524: Keg & Kitchen

As we had already been disappointed once that week by A Battered Tartan, so The Bride and I had to find another place to have our actual anniversary dinner. She had received a gift card from a place in Westmont called Keg & Kitchen (or alternatively, Keg N Kitchen), so we were off.

On the edge of the Collingswood restaurant district, and with very little parking out front (there is a backlot), Keg & Kitchen has a very nice pub feel. There is large variety of beers and flatbreads and cheeses, as well as the standard pub fare. Be warned however, this place is very dark. I'm guessing the money meant for the electric bill went toward maintaining the big blackboard of breads and cheeses.

Remembering a very good ground chuck hamburger I had at P.J. Whelihans recently, I ordered a similar burger here, which came with, of course French fries. The burger was very good, juicy and tasty, and the caramelized onions on top completed a great meal. We drank our sodas out of canning jars, which would have been cooler had they been larger. Jars are fun as long as they hold enough.

The fries were natural cut skinny regular cuts, not quite shoestrings but thinner than usual. Unfortunately they were more than a little burnt. This was disappointing because I think these could have been pretty good had they not been so overdone.

We might come back someday if we have another gift card, and we bring flashlights, and they don't ruin the fries. Seriously though, it was the company that counted, not the food.

Friday, September 27, 2013

French Fry Diary 523: Burger King Satisfries

I have to be honest after the last few times Burger King changed their French fries, I was expecting the worst. But here's the thing, I think they may have actually gotten it right for once.

These are nice big standard crinkle cuts, mild crisp on the outside and soft, fluffy and hot inside. They have a baked quality rather than fried or deep-fried. You're getting more potato than Burger King's 'classic' fries, which they are being sold alongside. The portion size is also bigger but it should be noted, so is the price.

The signage around the restaurant insists they are 40% less fat and 30% less calories, but that's over McDonald's fries, not BK's own. After all, the Satisfries are cooked in the same oil as the classic fries, and the onion rings.

Bottom line, I like them, a lot. As I said, I think Burger King finally got it right. Until the next time they change their fries. Again.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

French Fry Diary 522: The British Chip Shop 2013

For our birthdays, and especially our anniversary, The Bride and I planned a Disney vacation - a week long Disney cruise on board the Fantasy, bookended with shorter stays in the area and at the parks. Therefore we weren't really going to do anything big for our anniversary this year, which was the night before we left for vacation.

After getting an email saying they were open again (we were unaware they had been closed) we joked about an anniversary dinner at A Battered Tartan. It had started as a joke because when we had gone before, the thing that had struck us most was how small it was. But the more we thought about it, the more we actually did want to go. We wanted to go so much in fact, we went earlier than our anniversary, on the weekend before.

We should have called, as they actually do suggest on their website. Of course the reason suggested for calling first is to make sure they haven't run out of food, not because they were power washing their kitchen. Yep, that was what the sign that greeted us at their door said when we drove all the way out to Moorestown. We really wanted something edible from that realm, we were off to the British Chip Shop in Haddonfield.

They were open, no problems there, and they were happy to have us. As an appetizer, The Bride got Curry Cheese Chips. These were the near perfect chips (that's French fries for us Americans) that BCS always has, but slathered in curry and cheese. The cheese was Irish cheddar as is only right, and the curry was more in a BBQ sauce vibe, and overpowered the cheese, and the chips were awesome. I'm not one for putting stuff over fries, but this was delicious.

For my entrée, I got my British Chip Shop usual, Chicken and Chips. They were golden brown to perfection. As I said on The GAR! Podcast recently, when I used to be asked who has the best fries ever, I would always say Cookes of Dublin in Downtown Disney, but the quality has gone down the last few times we've had it. Now if you ask, it's the British Chip Shop hands down.

These chips are near perfect, if not perfect. Golden brown crispy shell on the outside and soft and hot, almost mashed potato-ey on the inside. Not too greasy, if at all, always hot, these thicker than usual regular cut natural cuts are the gold standard for fries as far as I'm concerned. The chicken was also terrific: battered, crispy, and succulent. To wash it down, not only has BCS added Coca-Cola products, but also RC Cola, which is what I ordered.

I really have to remember to come to the British Chip Shop more often, it's the best.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #115

This is Shelley Szajner's Sweet Potato Soup, along with one of her own creations, French pizza, brown rice tortilla, brie, tomatoes and chives, toasted till the cheese melts. Mmmm…

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

French Fry Diary 521: The New New Burger King French Fries

Yes. Again. Burger King is changing their fries again.

This is actually more of an addition rather than a change though. Burger King's newest addition to their fry family, which also includes their standard new fries from a couple years back, their onion rings, their curly fries (still only available at select outlets), and their sweet potato fries (generally a summer item), are called Satisfries. Yeah, I'm not sure about the name either.

Satisfries are bigger crinkle cut fries, similar to the frozen microwave fries BK sold for a while in grocery stores, and have less fat and fewer calories. While they will be included at no charge in the kids meals, adults will be paying extra if they want them. Hopefully that means they'll be that much better than BK's regular fries, maybe. Time will tell.

Special thanks to Allison for hipping me to this announcement.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

French Fry Diary on The GAR! Podcast

This week on The GAR! Podcast, a weekly nerd-centric conversation with Ray Cornwall and myself, we feature this very website - French Fry Diary.

We discuss the site, how it started, what it's about, and talk about various restaurants and their fries, many of the reviews here, what makes a good fry, and even French fry secrets.

And if you haven't been listening to The GAR! Podcast, you're missing out. It's an unrehearsed, unplanned, free form conversation where the topics go from comics to movies to music to video games to whatever happens to be on our minds, and eventually the conversation almost always turns to Prince, Breaking Bad, and French fries…

You can listen to the current episode here. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

French Fry Diary 520: The Bro's Flank Steak and Potatoes

The Bride and I spent Labor Day weekend with her sister and my brother-in-law and the nephew down in Maryland. Our busy schedules always seem to keep us from visiting, chilling with family, and watching movies in their great home theater. For purposes of this blog though, on the last evening we were there, the bro made his famous flank steak and potatoes.

This was a simple but delicious meal cooked out on his gas grill, a treasure I was jealous of. The Russian dressing marinated flank steak, that was to die for, was accompanied by a similarly marinated concoction of red potatoes, onions, and green and red peppers, also grilled.

The meal was perfection, clearly making up for a fair dinner the night before and the mediocre breakfast that morning. Clearly I will be spending more time down in Maryland, with the family, the bro's terrific grill and awesome home theater, and more of his flank steak and potatoes.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

French Fry Diary 519: Plum Crazy Diner

Usually on the agenda for Sunday mornings with the Maryland in-laws is breakfast at Bob Evans. But just for a change of pace, we tried the Plum Crazy Diner in Westminster, a place our hosts had not been to in some time.

The outside has a very bright pop modern look but inside it's a pretty typical looking diner - only bright pink and purple on the outside. I really dug the sign near entrance that read: "If you are grouchy, irritable or just plain mean, there will be a $10 charge for putting up with you." Although, it should be noted, my mood that morning dictated I owed them at least twenty dollars, maybe more.  I'm not really a morning person.

I wasn't very hungry either, so I just ordered one piece of French toast, and of course, home fries. They were large diced natural cut potatoes, just warm, as if they'd been under a heat lamp rather than baked or deep-fried. The French toast wasn't bad at all, but like the potatoes, only just warm.

The brother-in-law as usual got his home fries well done. They looked the same except that they had probably been in the deep fryer for a flash fry. They looked well done, which they were, but also looked greasy, which they were not.

We pretty much all agreed the breakfast was at best mediocre, but like the night before, the company was good, so the food wasn't all that important. Maybe next time we'll come down for lunch or dinner, as the Plum Crazy's claim to fame seems to be steaks and shakes.

Monday, September 09, 2013

French Fry Diary 518: Bullock's Beef House

The brother-in-law and sister-in-law have been asking us to come down and visit for months, but scheduling conflicts made it impossible. Finally, Labor Day weekend, right after my birthday, opened up, so The Bride and I headed to Maryland.

The plan originally was to go to Texas Roadhouse for my birthday dinner, hopefully to get another terrific piece of barbecued chicken and maybe find the nephew something he likes there. We also invited friends Dom and Cindy and their family who cruised with us on the Disney Dream recently.

The problem came when after we arrived at Texas Roadhouse. They told us they would have to seat our party of nine separately. They wanted to seat our birthday party in two different booths. Great. High points to Texas Roadhouse for customer service. Not. After a quick discussion, we decided to eat elsewhere.

We decided to try a place none of us had tried before that we passed in our way to the unaccommodating Texas Roadhouse - Bullock's Beef House. This combination butcher shop/farmers market/deli/bakery/family restaurant was infinitely more friendly than Texas Roadhouse. And you gotta love the black bull on top of the roof.

The place is kinda part Pub and part cafeteria. You get in the cafeteria line, place your order, take your seat, and wait for your number to be called. I got the chopped sirloin and, what else, fries. The in-laws and our friends had met a few times but never really talked, and they hit it off terrifically, talking Disney. Dom and Cindy having just returned, and the in-laws planning a near future trip, found easy common ground.

The steak wasn't all that special but it was chargrilled well, had the proper grill lines, and tasted it. I really enjoyed it. The fries on the other hand were just standard natural cuts. That's okay though, the company more than made up for it, great birthday dinner. Your loss, Texas Roadhouse.

Friday, September 06, 2013

French Fry Diary 517: Ruffles Max Steak Potato Chips

This is the newest in a disturbing trend of meat-flavored potato chips. Some are quite good like the recent Lay's Chicken & Waffles chips, and some are just disasters, and I hate to say it, most of those are steak-based. These chips, fully named Ruffles Max Maximum Taste Flame Grilled Steak Flavored potato chips, hopefully will be different.

My first question is - what's the difference between Ruffles Max, and Ruffles Ultimate? It just seems a bit redundant to me. The bag suggests drinking Pepsi Max with the chips, so maybe that's what the distinction is - marketing.

Looking at the ingredients, other than the mysterious 'flame grilled steak flavoring,' these might be along the lines of a barbecue potato chip. I hope so. With stuff approximating onion, garlic, smoke, brown sugar, etc., it's a good bet.

But I wouldn't take that bet, especially after opening the bag and getting a whiff of the aroma that came out. To say it was unpleasant would be insufficient. To quote The Bride after she got the scent, "It smells like feet." And there you go. Being a good husband, I made her try one first.

Her reaction was scattered. "I suppose it tastes like steak. I don't think it tastes like feet," then to me she said, "you're not going to like them." She went on to say she wished it tasted like well done steak.

I tried one. Surprisingly The Bride was kinda right. They tasted like well done steak, specifically well done steak cooked on an outdoor grill. That is exactly what these chips tasted like. I liked these a lot, and I was very surprised. Yep, I liked them. It's a shame these are only available in a Limited Edition. Get them while you can.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

French Fry Diary 516: Cookes of Dublin Onion Rings

At one time if you had asked me where the best fries are, I would have said Cookes of Dublin in a heartbeat. Even though on the last few visits the quality has gone down, every time I've gone, I have been more than a little fry-centric and never tried their onion rings.

Friends Dom and Cindy recently visited Walt Disney World, and other than proving that Friar's Nook does in fact open, they also went over to Cookes of Dublin. This time they tried the onion rings. Cindy says, "The fries are great, but the onion rings are to die for! Very crisp, and they don't do that thing where you take one bite and the entire piece of onion slides out leaving you holding only batter."

Hmmm... I guess I'll have to try their onion rings on my upcoming trip down there. Thanks to Dom and Cindy!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

McNugget Rage in Toledo

This 24-year-old woman, Melodi Dushane, wanted some Chicken McNuggets from a McDonald's drive-thru in Toledo, but it was 10:30 AM, and the restaurant, as it has always been for as long as I can remember at least, still serving breakfast. She apparently could not deal with that fact, and yeah, she just lost her mind.

The police caught Dushane, and she was sentenced to sixty days for felony vandalism - assaulting two employees and smashing the drive-thru window. She was apparently drunk, and was also made to pay for the damaged window. I love how the next car pulls up like nothing happened. I hope they didn't want McNuggets too…

The following video contains violence and profanity, not suitable for the kids or for work. You've been warned.

Wow. Don't make her assume her ultimate form. Just imagine if she wanted fries too…

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

French Fry Diary 515: The Myth of Friar's Nook

If you're a regular reader of French Fry Diary, you know that I have attempted to review Friar's Nook on two different occasions, only to be foiled both times by it being closed, once by rain, and once by the seasons.

This tiny quick service counter in the Magic Kingdom area of Walt Disney World has eluded me as if it knows I'm coming. It's no Dick Clark's American Bandstand Grill, but it has become a white whale for me in its own right.

Dom and Cindy and their family, who have traveled with The Bride and me before to the wilds of Disney visited again in the last few weeks, and this time, Dom found Friar's Nook open, purchased their infamous homemade potato chips and even produced photographic proof that Friar's Nook does actually open from time to time.

How were they? Cindy says: "They were good but not great. They were cut very thick. Most were very (very) hard and crisp, except for a few that were oily and chewier. They were slightly too salty." Word is they should be open when we go for our vacation in less than two weeks, although I have been advised to try them around lunchtime. Hopefully they will not elude me again. Thanks, Dom and Cindy!