The French Fry Problem

Back when I was a college student, french fries were easy. You got four or five of your friends together and walked to the O, where you could pick up a few pounds of deep fried potatoes for around $5. What the fries lacked in quality they made up for in quantity and cheese whiz. Life was good.

Now life is more complicated. The O is still down in Oakland, but three pounds of fries are not such a pleasing proposition. Other classic sources of french fried pleasure have also fallen by the wayside. McDonald’s doesn’t use beef fat anymore, so even that last ditch outlet is gone.

I have now come to realize that there is something of a French Fry crisis in Pittsburgh. I hadn’t really thought about it until we had a new guy, let’s call him “Joe”, move from CA to Pittsburgh to start work in our office. “Why can’t I get decent fries”, he would ask from time to time. We took him to all the best local places: D’s have pretty good fries with their dogs, but they are not french. Point Brugge makes fries from scratch, but they only really get it right 75% of the time. Five Guys have gotten a lot better after a slow start, and might be the most consistently decent fries I’ve had in a while. After all this time after college, the O is really more of a mass of onion- ring like material in the shape of a mound of potatoes.

Today we were discussing the problem again at lunch and Joe presetned his new measure of fries quality, and I realized he was totally right. Here is what he wants:

He wants a place that does fries that are better than Ore-Ida frozen french fries that he bakes in the oven at home.

I actually have a similar measure, only with Whole Foods tater tots.

So this is your challenge tonight: find me a place where I can get fries better than either one of these two mass produced products every single time I order them. I’ve eaten all over the city and have never found a joint that could pull this off.

Five Guys in Oakland almost manages this. But it’s a chain, and that’s no fun.

Surely there is a local place that can do better.