Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Chapel, San Francisco, CA

(Note: This review is WAYYY OVERDUE.) The Chapel in the Mission. Perhaps you've been here to see shows. But have you ever been here to taste the FRIES? Fellow fry companion and I went here to see Sparks, which, in and of itself, is awesome anyway. But while waiting, said fellow fry companion decided to get an order of fries, which to both of our surprises (or however you phrase that) were simply some of the most incredible french fries I have ever tasted in my life.

I swear to god that's Ron!

For 5 dollars you get an enormous heaping plate of fries tossed with garlic and parsley, enough to serve 5 people (no, we didn't finish them all. Although I wanted to put some in my pocket for later).

What fries look like in a dark club.

Hot and toasty, thinly cut, gently crisped on the outside, tender on the inside, these fries are my new favorite. They are extremely well seasoned and don't need a thing (although ketchup would have been nice to break it up a bit. After all, there were only 2 of us eating a gallon-plate of fries).

The Chapel needs to advertise their fries a bit more prominently. Because they've been hiding from me way too long.


Price: $5.00
Portion Size: Enough to feed 5 adults, or 4 if you're really hungry. Would probably feed 1 cat, 1 dog, and a parrot, or 2 hungry children.

Texture: Slightly crispy on outside, hot and tender (!) on the inside. Perfect.

Greasiness Level: 3 out of 5 (standard grease level)
Seasoning: Excellent, with garlic and parsley
Fried In: Some sort of vegetable oil

Condiments: Didn't come with any, but I'm sure you could ask the busy bartender

Overall Quality of French Fries: 10 out of 10

Juhu Beach Club, Oakland, CA

I really enjoyed my first trip here. Maybe you recognize the chef from Top Chef. Who cares? The food's good!

My partner in crime and I got some Pavs (slider sandwiches), Chickpea Curry (not bad, but not earth shattering either), and Masala Fries with Tamarind Ketchup.

Oh, yeah, we also got Sev Puri, which came with apple relish and chutneys. We were firkin' hungry!

Anyway, the fries were served very hot, and were pretty darn tasty. Thinly sliced and nicely coated with flavor, I have to say that with all the spice (the things were damn spicy! but in a good way), they were sort of messing with my ability to rate them fairly since they're so different than the average fry. I have read a Yelp reviewer complain that these fries tasted very blah, so I guess I came on a VERY SPICY DAY.

I personally thought the fries were delicious, and the chili flavor left a lingering flavor in my mouth throughout the night (and unfortunately, the next morning as well). The Masala Ketchup was yummy as well, although I'm going to be honest here and say that the burning (again, in a good way!) sensation in my mouth made me care very little for the actual taste of the ketchup. I am going to give them a solid 6.5 since they are sort of incomparable to any other fry I've tasted before.

Note: This place is full of trickery! Just when you think you're eating on a paper plate! It's not. Just when you think you're drinking from a plastic cup! It's not.


Price: $5.00
Portion Size: A big larger than a Medium
Texture: Crispy coating on outside, tender inside.

Greasiness Level: 3 out of 5 (standard grease level)
Seasoning: None
Fried In: Canola Oil

Condiments: salt, pepper, masala ketchup

Overall Quality of French Fries: 6.5 out of 10

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Park Burger, Oakland, CA

Park Burger, in the neighborhood called "Lower Hills," (which is what I like to think of as a euphemism for "Lesser Ghetto," depending on what part of the "Lower Hills" you're in) is a nice small operation, where you go up to the counter and pay, and then a waiter comes and serves you your food.

I like this place. It's cozy and you can tell a lot of the customers live in the area. As for the food, my black bean burger with slaw was pretty good as far as veggie burgers go. However, the fries were a total disappointment.
As described on their menu: "FRENCH FRIES $2.5 Thinly cut on a daily basis; served with sea

Sweet Potato Fries as a side are $3.50. I saw someone else order them and they came in a drinking glass and did not look very plentiful.

I opted for the Sampler–French Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Onion Rings for $5 (not bad!)

Unfortunately, all of the fried sides were bland. The Onion Rings (I haven't had onion rings since I was probably 8 years old, so maybe I'm a bad judge of them), were extremely crispy, to the point where it seemed like the batter was made up of some dried, hard nut, and lacked seasoning. The Sweet Potato Fries were covered in some some of crispy batter, which I despise (as I feel coatings are somehow covering up for lack of flavor and destroy the integrity of the fry) and also poorly seasoned–they simply tasted like sweet potatoes dipped in oil.

As for the Regular French Fries–they were okay. They were all sorts of crazy different sizes, a lot of them being only about half an inch long. I don't know if this means they are handcut, but I thought it was weird that there were so many baby-sized ones thrown into the mix. Anyway, these were pale and very bland, but a crapload of salt made them sort of resemble what I remember McDonald's fries tasting like (which isn't a bad thing).

Portion size for the Sampler was great, but eh, probably not going to revisit these fries anytime soon. The black bean burger wasn't bad, however.


Price: French Fries $2.50, Sweet Potato Fries $3.50. I got the sampler, $5 for both fry types plus onion rings.

Portion Size: Large (for the Sampler, anyway)
Texture: Regular Fries–not bad. Slightly crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Sweet Potato Fries–gross outside batter coating which was crispy, soft on the outside. Not a fan of those Sweet Potato Fries.

Greasiness Level: 3 out of 5 (standard grease level)
Seasoning: None
Fried In: I believe some sort of vegetable oil

Condiments: salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard (including Grey Poupon, yo), mayo. Add salt to everything and watch your meal transform.

Overall Quality of Regular French Fries: 5 out of 10 with salt added. 4.5 without.
Overall Quality of Sweet Potato Fries: 4.5 out of 10. Edible, but did not make me happy.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mission Bowling Club, San Francisco, CA

Maybe you've already heard of Mission Chinese. You know, that spot that everyone from Lidia Bastianich to...well, everyone else gushes over (personally, I think they're food is migraine inducing over-the-top %#@^$ SALTY!!! And I'm a salt fiend!!).

Well, Anthony Myint, the chef guy from Mission Chinese, now also runs the restaurant inside Mission Bowling, a large, hip bowling spot on 17th between South Van Ness and Shotwell. I'm not sure how the bowling is, but I do know a bit about the food.
Notice miniscule "burger" to the left. People trying to maintain a normal 2000-a day calorie diet need not apply.

How would you like a 3 x 1.5" rectangular vegan burger for $10.00? Well, that's exactly how I felt. Granted it was served with a small salad, which I promptly substituted with fries, a decision for which I was fined an additional dollar.

The side of fries was a smallish medium in terms of portion size (for some reason, the photo above makes the portion size look larger than it actually was), and there were a few mealy ones in the bunch. However, most of them were cooked well and had great texture and flavor. Although extremely underseasoned, a good hit of salt and ketchup helped remedy that. A decent side of fries, if a bit on the expensive side.

I've heard some great things about their cocktails, so I'd be willing to go back if a friend really wanted to. Just not sure I would order the My Little Pony-sized vegan "burger" again. I felt pretty ripped off (ie, I did not think it was a great burger. I would have been fine with a frozen Boca Burger).


Price: $11 (includes $1 penalty) when ordered with a doll-size vegan "burger"
$6 if ordered alone as a side (this version comes with a "dipping sauce." I have no idea what that means).

Portion Size: Smallish-Medium (although if you don't have my appetite, you'd prolly think it was more on the Medium side)
Texture: A few mealy ones, but overall good texture, chew, and crispiness of outside

Greasiness Level: 3 out of 5 (standard grease level)
Seasoning: None (really needed it)
Fried In: I believe some sort of vegetable oil

Condiments: salt, pepper, ketchup

Overall Quality of French Fries: 5.75 out of 10

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

L'as Du Fallafel, Paris, France

I took about 10 cell phone photos (on my crappy phone) of the facade of this place (here's the Wiki page), because for some reason I found it HILARIOUS that underneath their neon OPEN sign are the words: "As recommended by Lenny Kravitz." There were also photographs of Lenny Kravitz all over the windows. Lenny Kravitz likes falafel!


L'As du Fallafel does indeed serve up a really amazing falafel sandwich, stuffed with nuggets of eggplant and hummus (take note if you ever find yourself in the Jewish Quarter in Paris!) (PS: I actually liked the falafel from a nearby competitor a bit more, but this was still far better than anything I've ever had in the US. Sorry Oren's–which I've reviewed a few posts earlier, declaring it to serve to the best falafel sandwich I've ever had. That winning title for Oren's still stands up in the States, though).

Unfortunately, for me, but not for Lenny, the french fries did not match up to the falafel sandwich, although they still worked, if you know what I mean (ie, I finished them all). The fries were a bit on the thick side, which is not an issue for me, but they unfortunately suffered from being a bit mealy on the inside (sigh–that seems to be a pretty consistent problem with a lot of fries I've tasted lately); however, despite these shortcomings, they did still manage to eke out some pretty decent flavor. Extra points for being piping hot.
Above you are seeing remnants of a once big bowl of fries.


Price: I can't remember, but I have the receipt somewhere. It's in Euros!
Portion Size: Large
Texture: A bit mealy on the inside, very slight crisp on the outside. Could use more frying/cooking time.

Greasiness Level: 3 out of 5 (standard grease level)
Seasoning: None (really needed it)
Fried In: I believe some sort of vegetable oil

Condiments: salt, pepper, ketchup, hot sauce

Overall Quality of French Fries: 5.75 out of 10

Side Note: Lenny Kravitz approves!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Cheesecake Factory, Freehold, NJ

Overall, my dining experience at The Cheesecake Factory was not satisfactory. People of America, do not be angry with me; I simply did not have a very good experience. I know that waiting 45 minutes to 2 hours with a vibrating beeper hanging around your person should by default guarantee a fine dining adventure, but I cannot lie. (Admittedly, I went here with my cousins who had a coupon, and who can turn that down?) 

My veggie burger with a side of fries arrived, and immediately one of my cousins remarked, eyes widening, " Did they just put a bunch of salt on your burger?" I looked down at my open-face meatless burger and confirmed that yes, indeed, someone must have poured a crapload of salt on my burger–the glistening crystals cut through the dimly lit dining area, piled high like frosting on the mound of mushy, flat, brown "veggie burger" (was that amazing prose, or what? Yes, it's terrible. It sort of reads like a romance novel. Without the romance. Just bad fries).

So, as far as the burger went, in the words of my 5-year old niece, it was undeniably "GROSS." Mushy and flavorless in that weird "veggie-burger-made-with-cardboard" sort of way, the salt could do nothing to save it. But that was the burger. As for the fries, well, not so great either.

The fries were undercooked, pale, flavorless. I mean, white as an old man's legs. Or something like that. They also had some weird dry texture to them, kind of like mushy peanut butter.

At least the Big Gulp sized Diet Coke came with free refills. The Cheesecake Factory provided me with a totally weird and bizarre almost Disneyesque (read: 500-page menu, or how ever many pages it is–how is it that The Cheesecake Factory menu on the Big Bang Theory is only a double-sided sheet?!) food experience. *PLEASE NOTE: This is not to say some of their other dishes don't taste "good," so please withhold your angry emails about their delicious cheesecake varieties.

Price: $3.95
Portion Size: Medium
Texture: Mushy, peanut-butter texture

Greasiness Level: 3 out of 5 (standard grease level)
Seasoning: None
Fried In: Canola Oil

Condiments: salt, pepper, ketchup

Overall Quality of French Fries: 3.75 out of 10. Kinda Super Gross.