Sunday, July 22, 2012

A word I hope to never use

...In a description of french fries:


Thank you, Rachael Ray, for corrupting the English language with your crazy abbreviations! (Actually, I don't really mind her, but DELISH is something I do not ever want to acquire in my vocabulary).

Fine. You've probably heard me use the word, "Yumsters." But I think I made that up on my own time, even if you've probably heard it elsewhere. And I probably use the word "amazing" too much. Still, neither of those words is as bad as DELISH. The word is delicious. There's an ending to it!

Barney's Gourmet Hamburger in Oakland, CA

Barney's has locations in a bunch of different locations. This review is for the fries at the Oakland location.

You can order a side of fries in three sizes: Full, half, and single. I ordered single orders of both the Spicy Curly Fries and Skinny Fries, and let me tell you that these are a STEAL. For $2.50 you can get a large bowl of french fries, which is probably one of the best deals you'll ever find in the Bay Area because that bowl of fries was, as I said, LARGE, people! With the money you've saved on the fries, you can then walk down the street to Fenton's and a get a nice scoop of Coffee Cookie Dream!

Onto the fries.

(Please forgive the somewhat gross close-up shots)

Part 1.
Skinny Fries. They seem cut in-house, nice and skinny, but were really pale (AKA, New oil that has not broken down yet, and thus the oil cannot properly penetrate the outside of the potato. See, I'm learning!). Slight crunch on the outside, maybe just a tad bit too mealy on the inside. Underseasoned, but some salt really brought out the fried potato flavor (sidenote regarding something really annoying: the salt is contained in a salt shaker grinder apparatus, and was not the appropriate type of grinder for such large salt rocks. It took a bit too long just to get a tiny sprinkle of salt on the fries, and the fries really needed a lot of salt).

The Skinny Fries are definitely better than most of what you can find out there. I'd order them again, knowing that some salt and ketchup will definitely help out.

Part 2.
Spicy Curly Fries, served with "home-style" ranch dressing. I'm not sure what "home-style" means. In the style of home? Made in the kitchen? Anyway,  these fries were again a bit underseasoned and needed a bit of salt. They are really not even "spicy," although there are hints of something caliente in the batter. From what I could tell they looked battered and then deep fried.

These, however, were nice and crisp on the outside, soft in the middle. One can only assume that these were fried in a completely different batch of frying oil. The flavor of these fries were definitely enhanced by a dip in the ranch dressing. I really enjoyed these, although they're not really comparable to a regular old standard fry.

Skinny Fries:
Price: $2.50 (a steal, people!)
Portion Size: Large
Texture: Not crispy enough on outside, a bit mealy on the inside. Super pale!

Greasiness Level: 2 out of 5 (actually not that greasy)
Seasoning: Very underseasoned
Fried in: 100 percent vegetable oil

Condiments: salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard

Overall Quality of French Fries: 6.0 out of 10 (don't be mad at me, Brad. I still think these had good flavor in spite of the paleness. And at least there was some crispness on the outside.)

Spicy Curly Fries
Price: $2.75 (again, an absolute STEAL!)
Portion Size: Large
Texture: Crispy on outside, soft on the inside. Yum.

Greasiness Level: 2 out of 5 (not that greasy)
Seasoning: Underseasoned
Fried in: 100 percent vegetable oil

Condiments: Comes with a side of home-style (what does that mean?) ranch dressing that really enhances the flavor, salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard

Overall Quality of French Fries: 
Not what I would really deem "spicy" (ie, it's not going to knock your socks off or anything), but there is a definite hint of spice.
7.5 out of 10

Kwik Way Drive-In in Oakland, CA

(This is way overdue. Like, a year and a half, so apologies for that.) 

First, a bit of a history lesson courtesy of the East Bay Express (from an article by John Birdsall in June, 2011) about your friendly local Kwik Way Drive-In:

"In the Fifties [Kwik Way] was part of a local drive-in chain…In the days of red-lining Kwik Way's customers were mostly white; after I-580 slashed through the neighborhood in the 1960s, they were mostly black. Like a wide swath of Oakland's commons the Kwik Way withered, then closed, though the parking lot continued to thrive — no more cheeseburgers or fried prawns, but a late-night menu of eight balls and front-seat blow jobs, with the roar of the freeway as soundtrack."

In other words, it used to be a place that a younger Anthony Bourdain would have frequented (I'm assuming that here, "eight ball" means the white stuff and not pool-playing).

Today, it is a pleasant walk up, with five tables outdoors so you can eat in the sun. As for the fries, let me just say this: I was SHOCKED.  The first thing you notice is that the portion size is quite generous for the price (just $2.15 including the tax!).

(This time around they were brought home and above appear on the kitchen cutting board.)
The quality and taste are superb, and the fries appear to be hand-cut. They arrived piping hot and delicately cooked with a slightly crispy skin and hot, soft innards (ooh, so graphic). These tasty morsels are also incredibly well-seasoned with a very nice balance of salt, pepper, and parsley.

I had such low expectations for Kwik Way, but I think I may have found a new love.


Price: $1.95 ($2.15 includes tax. Or maybe it was $2.12. What's the tax here again? I don't feel like calculating right now.)

Portion Size: A bit bigger than a medium
Texture: Crispy on outside, soft on the inside

Greasiness Level: 3 out of 5 (a bit greasy)
Seasoning: Perfecto! Salt, pepper, and parsley
Fried in: Canola Oil

Condiments: ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper

Overall Quality of French Fries: 8 out of 10. YUM.