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Friday, September 12, 2014

Amy Vs.Kansas City MEGA POST

Every once in a while, Amy and I get to sneak away from the Grunion and pretend to be non-kid people.  Last weekend we busted it up to KC to check out the scene.  This is KC.

The first night we were going to see Cake play, so we needed some fry courage (on accounta we're so old and going to concerts can be embarrassing).  Luckily, there was a joint located right in our hotel called Drum Room that had an interesting offering.

Salt and Vinegar fries with Goat Cheese Fondue?  Ok.

Strike one was that they were "out of salt and vinegar fries".  They didn't have any salt or vinegar sitting around the kitchen?  Whatever.  They had "regular" fries though.

15 minutes and $4 later this was what we got.

Admirable for a bar.  Crispy, hot, green stuff on top.

The goat cheese fondue was awesome, but miniscule.  More would have been better (obviously).  Also, dipping the fries in the tiny ramekin was difficult.

All in all, I would say these are a solid 8.  I almost ordered another round.  I should mention that this is the first moment that Amy became suspicious about my intentions for the weekend.
AMY:  We're not just going to be eating at french fry places all weekend, right?
GIBBY:  *cough...Why no, honey.  There'll be plenty of other stuff.

It wasn't until they were almost all gone that we noticed that the fries came in a mini iron stew pot.  Cool.  But no extra points.

Standing in line to get into Grinders, we met this nice couple who were there for the concert as well.  They were intrigued by my quest for fries, and offered up some suggestions (which we didn't have time to check out).  Anyway, I told them I would make them famous.

Grinders was total chaos, so we couldn't try the fries and tots they are apparently famous for until the next day.  More on that later.

Cake was fun.  The only problem was that we're not used to two hundred or so 40-year olds in Members Only® jackets whipping out joints and smoking them all around us.  

I got super dizzy and danced real good...

A couple hours later we shuffled into BRGR cause my research outlined some cool fry-related items there.

Amy was tired (and not paying too much attention) so I ordered a bunch of stuff before she really noticed.

I distracted her by pointing out the cool switchblade style steak knives.

When they brought the first round of all the crap I ordered (giant pretzels with cheese dip) Amy got SUPER PARANOID that everyone was looking at us cause we ordered SO MUCH stuff and it was ALL CRAP.  I told her she probably just had a contact high from the Members Only® jacket crew and that she was being silly.

Actually, now that I'm seeing the pictures...

That last pic is a Lobster Grilled Cheese that comes WITH TRUFFLE FRIES and a fried egg on top.  The sandwich was meh.

The regular fries were served in an espresso milk steamer thingy.  They were pretty good.  At $3 in this area of town I'll give em an 8.

The tots were awesome.  For $5 you get a ton.  10 out of 10.

The Truffle Fries were similarly awesome.  $4 for these is a great deal.  10 out of 10.

Let me express how miserably stuffed I was at this point.  I ordered a beer and didn't even finish half of it cause my stomach was so bloated.  Why?  When will the madness end?  Amy was pissed that I tricked her into more fries.

The next day we went back to Grinders.  I told Amy that it was on the way to a place we were going later.  She was suspicious again.

Grinders is basically JR's Lightbulb Club frozen in time in about 1995.  They were even playing Matchbox 20 when we walked in (strike one).  "BIG ASS FRIES"?  And "BIG ASS TOTS"?  Let's get it on!

Um.....where's the BIG?

Again.....this is BIG ASS?

Grinders is a really cool joint, but their fries and tots are substandard.  Go for the pie and beers, but skip the fries and tots. 6 out of 10.

Amy was pissed (again).  Understandable considering it had now been about 26 hours and she had eaten nothing but fries, cheese, and soft pretzels.  I offered her a pizza.

A PIZZA WITH CHILI TATER TOTS ON IT!  This is their "famous" Chili Bomb Pie.  It's a pizza with a mound of tater tots smothered in chili and cheese in the middle.  Amy refused.

I promised Amy she could have "real" food at the next place, which happened to be Haus.

This German-like joint was hosting an Oktoberfest later in the day, but they also have something called "Belgian Fries" which are supposedly "double cooked" so I wanted to get there early to try them.  Whoa.  Saturday at 2pm is kinda dead here.

Apparently we got there WAY too early. We made the best of it.  First, Fried Cheese Curds and MORE PRETZELS!  Amy had pretty much given up on food at this point.

There was something weird about the pretzels...

The fried cheese curds were stupid.

And the fries.



They're bad.  Nothing cute here, they're just soggy and bad.  4 out of 10.

The waitresses were wearing those cute Oktoberfest dresses though!

We drowned our sorrows in samples of 30 different "Oktoberfest" beers-most of which were pumpkin-flavored.

We capped off the night with a few brews at The Flying Saucer.  And since Amy said she never wanted to see fries again I ordered the most ridiculous (non-fries) thing on the menu which turned out to be a MASSIVE disgusting display of 'Merica.  Pretzels, cut up bits of ham and sausage, AND A GIANT VAT OF CHEESE DIP on stilts with a burner for the whole world to see.  It also had carrots and celery though, so it was healthy!

Amy was totally defeated.

Victory: Kansas City 
P.S.  I love Amy more than I love anyone else cause she puts up with this crap.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Carny Bucket O Fries

We were at a street festival recently and I saw a woman walking with one of these.  I had to have one.

This was the carny trailer that was selling them FOR 7 BUCKS!

Normally I would walk away laughing, but for you, my dear readers, I am willing to invest in your education.

I watched the guy put a potato in a curly fry spinner cutter thing and whirly up a head of lettuce-sized bunch of curly fries.  He threw the ball in the fryer and 3 minutes later he handed Amy this:

And they were...TOTALLY UNCOOKED.  Yuck.

I took them back and made them make me another batch.   This time they were cooked, but they still sucked...bad.

I think I may have mentioned this before, but carny fries at a carnival/festival/county fair will suck.  Always and forever.  Lesson learned?

Carny Bucket O Fries: 0 out of 10.

P.S.  I will put lots of other tasty things in my Bucket O Fries bucket...

Friday, September 5, 2014

Austin Downtown MEGA POST

Before I went to Austin last week with Jack on business I did some heavy duty research on fries in the area and found a rich vein of nuggetry.  What?  You don't do hours of in-depth research about the fries in every town you ever visit?  I was originally gonna do a post for each place, but then I realized that was silly. 

Our first fry stop was in the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport restaurant "Smokewood" on the way out of town.

Does anyone else think that having "outdoor" seating in large indoor buildings is silly?  The hostess actually said "inside or outside?"

$3.50 french fries in an airport is pretty much the standard worldwide. They came in a bowl.  Skin-on frozen baggers.

Super hot, crispy, and........lame.

These fries are like a beautiful vapid woman.  They look great, but there's nothing there.  Notice I ate them all though.  Maybe I'm shallow.

Jack ate chicken tenders.  He said not to bother him and not to take his picture.

The chicken tenders came in this mini fry basket.  I thought it was cool.

Smokewood: 6 out of 10 (but only cause of the mini fry basket).

This is what downtown Austin looks like at dawn from the Radisson.  I included this pic cause I had to get up at dawn each day for the conference.  Boo.

The first night we had a pretty ambitious schedule, but I was confident.  Our first stop was Second Bar in the Congress Hotel.

I was excited cause they have black truffle fries and their website has this pic.  Remember this pic for later.

I made up a word for all the swanky joints downtown: Austintatious.  The decor/style of Second Bar is rich girl hipster country.  Gingham napkins/mason jars/tumbleweeds/cast iron pans, etc.   Not bad, just....too much.

Black truffle pommes frites for $8?  Yes, please!

Jack ordered the veal meatballs which came in this mini skillet.  They were pretty good.

Remember that picture of the fries from their website?  I really didn't expect a whole truffle on top of some fries, but where's the truffle stuff?

Oh..I's hidden in the aioli.  Seems like the picture on the web should be of a bottle of aioli then and not a huge truffle.

These fries taste great, but they're too expensive for the amount of fries (and truffle) you don't get.  If you've got a bunch of dough burning up in your pocket, they're ok, but they're definitely a bad value.  It's so weird that just doubling the amount of fries (which would cost them like another 50 cents) would make these a 10, but whatever.

Jack liked them very much.  They made him wistful for his Parisian farming days.

Jack also wanted me to give extra points cause they had Pearl beer in a can.  I will not.

Second Bar: 7 out of 10.

The next stop (just a block away) was The Cedar Door.  It's made out of cedar, get it?

It has a huge outdoor seating area.  Great when it's 104 degrees (which it was).  Perfect if you are young and stupid.  No thanks.  Fat man need aircon.

Everything is cedar!  Even the menu book!  How...something!

Hollywood french fries.  Let's go.

While we were waiting I saw this on the menu.  A seasonal Grilled Cheese .  Market priced!  Hilarious.  We forgot to ask, but we imagined it was like 30 bucks.

The Hollywood Fries are the standard "throw a bunch of stuff on top" type affair.  They aren't astoundingly good, but the amount you get is really good.

Cheesy, bacony goodness.

The bowl was funky shaped.

The kicker was that when we got the bill, the fries were only $4!  Turns out that during happy hour they drop the price on the fries 2 bucks.  Sweet!  Four bucks for these fries in downtown Austin is a straight up misdemeanor theft!  We shoulda got two.

Cedar Door: 10 out of 10 (during happy hour).

Stop three was Searsucker.

This place is HUGE inside.  Like football field-sized huge.  And again with the old west rich girl thing.  When we walked in, it was like the record skipped and everyone looked as us with disgust.  This place is for 20-something beautiful people for sure.

Duck fat fries with prosciutto dust.  Yup.

The fries were presented as a triangle. Freemasonry?

Hard to tell for sure, but I don't think they were fresh cut.

First chomp.  Here's the thing about duck fat: I think it's too heavy/dominating of a taste for fries.  Duck fat seems to work okay with chips cause they don't absorb as much oil as fries, and I think some chefs just push it with fries.  In this case, the overwhelming taste of the duck fat completely negated any hint of the prosciutto.  Also, for 8 bucks the amount is not impressive.

Jack spent most of the time there examining the forks, which I must concede were exquisite.

Searsucker: 6 out of 10

By this point Jack was getting testy and wanted to quit eating fries.  He does not share my fry resolve.  We compromised and went to one last joint: Lambert's Barbecue.  My research indicated that their waffle fries were good, and I was intrigued cause BBQ joints don't usually have fries at all.

We were forced to sit outside, so as were were being led out I turned around and took this pic with the flash on as a form of protest.  The other diners were annoyed.  Anarchy!

The Waffle Fries with smoked paprika (how do you smoke paprika?) and herbs are $7.  You get like 9.

They were okay, but not amazing.

Kudos to this place for having them on the menu, but boo for the cost vs. amount vs. taste.  Try the deep fried boudin fritters, though-they're awesome!

Lambert's: 5 out of 10

Jack revolted after Lambert's and we retired for the evening.  He said five fry places in one day was enough.  Wimp.

Day two we hit 219 West.

Although this place is swanky, it was much more laid back than the joints from the previous night.  And what I mean by that is the bartender didn't treat us with indignation.  Maybe it was cause Jack was wearing a Steve Zizzou shirt.

Shallot Fries?  YES.

Spicy Cheese Tater Tots?  YES.

The shallot fries came in a metal tumbler with the ketchup ramekin shoved in there.  This was gross to me for two reasons: 1) whose fingers were all over the ramekin 2) why are you taking up valuable fry space?

Dumped out on a plate.  I guess for $4.95 in downtown Austin this was a fair amount but you really had to concentrate to taste the shallots.  And come to think of it, why should we care about shallots anyway?

Jack said that if he closed his eyes and thought about the Thames River he could "kinda taste a little bit of shallot-but only on the ends of the fries."  Weird.

219 West Shallot Fries: 6 out of 10.

But HOLD THE PHONE!  Behold the Spicy Cheese Tater Tots!

Discard your life's despair and harken unto divine tatery!

Harken unto them verily!

These things are AWESOME.  You pop one in your mouth, chomp it down, and then like 20 seconds later a wave of spicy warmth swarms your mouth.  It's like chemistry or something.  $8.95 is steep, but the amount is good and they are soooooo tasty.

219 West Spicy Cheese Tater Tots: 10 out of 10

The rest of the night we didn't eat fries cause we were so full.