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What are "Belgian Fries" anyhow? [moved from L.A. board]

The last time I was in Belgium was in 1967. The last - and first - time I was at The Oinkster was about an hour ago. I had a pulled pork sandwich (okay, not fantastic, not bad) and "Belgian Fries." The fries seemed to be granulated potatoes formed into the shape of fries and then fried. They weren't terrible, but they weren't particularly good either. On a scale of 10, I might give them a four or thereabouts.

Overall, at $11.10 for an okay pulled pork sandwich, not very good "Belgian Fries" and a medium soda, I'm willing to give the place another try or two and maybe another month or so to break itself in, before I write it off. But if today's experience proves to be typical I'll be giving it a pass after that.

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  1. Belgian fries are fried in beef tallow and are actually fried twice (I think that they don't do this at Oinkster - it's like they forgot this step.) I ate at Oinkster last night and would have liked the fried to be a lot more crispy. I tasted a cold fry and I could taste the beef fat so that's probably why they call them Belgian Fries (that and the fact that they serve the fries with a mayo based sauce.)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bon Vivant

      Hmmm, they left out the mayo-based sauce on my order and they definitely were not crispy enough.

      1. re: estone888

        They did the same thing to one of my dining companions, everyone else got a dipping sauce except her - they didn't even ask her which type she wanted. They need to clear stuff up like that really soon (and their fries need to be more crispy!)

    2. Vlaamse Frites (Flemish Frites) are the ultimate Belgian, and Dutch, street food. They're not particularly fancy, or gourmet, and they're utterly unlike ANYTHING available in these parts.

      First of all, Belgian fries ARE the meal, not the side. Second, YES they have a "reconstituted" soft texture to them, and a very crisp exterior... this is due to their twice fried, or baked and fried nature. And third, they are nearly ALWAYS served in a cone or a cup with the toppings already slathered over them, not as dipping sauces on the side -- this means that by the time that you're eating them (with a little two pronged plastic or wooden fork that looks like the "spoons" that used to come in ice-cream cups) they're already soaked through with the sauces and on their way to becoming a homogenous mess.

      The toppings for Vlaamse Frites include (but are not limited to) mayonnaise, tomato catsup, thai peanut sauce, hot sauce, curry sauce, HP Sauce (or "brown catsup"), and various meat sauces... And the for the very drunk, very bold, or very stupid, "Patatje Oorlog," which is Dutch for "French Fry War" in which all of the toppings are mixed (this is my favorite way to order Vlaamse Frites).

      The notion that "Belgian Fries" are somehow better than old fashioned American French Fries is a bizarre, and recent, affectation. Both are good in their own ways... and both are totally different. They have surprisingly little in common. I love Vlaamse Frites, but I don't look to my local burger shop to provide them.

      The closest thing to real Vlaamse Frites I've had in the United States or Canada is the "Supreme Chili Cheese Fries" from Del Taco, made with the crinkle cut fries. They're distinctly different, but they're closer than anything I've ever had at a sit down establishment with pretentions to serve "Belgian Fries."

      If Oinkster were really serving "Belgian Fries" in the manner that most Belgians would appreciate, most of their patrons would send them back uneaten...

      2 Replies
      1. re: Moomin

        This sounds very much like what Benita's Frites used to serve on the 3rd St Promenade in Santa Monica...

        1. re: Silver Lake Guy

          Yup. I frequented Benita's for years. My only complaint was that they only gave the slightest thimbleful of sauce, and that they wouldn't pour the sauce over the fries the way that they do in Belgium.

          Other than that, it was a bold experiment, and it divided folks deeply. Folks who liked Vlaamse Frites, loved them... others felt like the fries tasted too processed, and that the sauces were wierd.

          Any hardly anybody could believe that you could make a go of a shop that sold only fries. In the long run (Promenade reconstruction not withstanding) it turned out that they were right.

      2. There is a Dutch chain called Maoz Falafel which has great Vlaamse Frites and they have an outpost in Philadelphia. Maybe one day they will arrive in Los Angeles.

        http://www.maozveg.com/index.php?id=395

          1. re: ozzygee

            I love the pictures of the Frietkot on that site! Says it all really. That's the sort of place that I'd look for for my "Belgian Fries."

            Vlaamse Frites are great, but they're not "french fries," and they shouldn't be served as though they were.

            1. re: Moomin

              I think the few places that do serve Belgian fries in the US, serve them with the dressing on the side. I've been to a couple of the places in NY, and they gave you 2 or 3 dressings with your order from a list of a dozen or so. And you're right, the only thing they served were fries (and something to drink).

          2. FYI: All fries to be crispy have to be basically fried twice. I say basically because most fries come from the processor and they've been blanched quickly in oil before packaged. That's why the fries you get at In & Out are normally not crispy but tend to be limp...they cut them then fry them.

            1 Reply
            1. If you're in Atlanta, The Local serves a good approximation of Belgian fries, and in Minneapolis it's the 112 Eatery.

              1. Some TV show talked of a NYC shop that served Frites with dozens of sauces. They claimed to be authentic. Does anyone know which place it is and where it is?

                2 Replies
                1. re: nosey

                  I remember that segment too. Wasn't it on the lower East side?

                  1. re: nosey

                    I think the place you are referring to is Pommes Frites 123 2nd Ave. (2nd Ave. between 7 & 8 St.) Tel. 212-674-1234 web site at www.pommesfrites.ws. I'm from Boston but have been dying to try this place

                  2. I read in "The Man Who Ate Everything" that they sometimes fry their fries in horse fat in Belgium.

                    1. Yes, Belgian Fries are fried twice which is why you get the crispy exterior and soft (almost mashed-potato-like) interior. My family is from Belgium and finding a great friture is what I missed the most until now. A restaurant named the "Belgian frie" opened up a year ago in Pacific Beach, CA. They're located a block west of the Pacific Ocean. Their fries are incredibly good and they have over 17 dipping sauces, all made fresh, in-house. Most of the sauces are mayo-based and taste even better than the sauces I remember when I lived in Belgium as a kid. The fries are served in imported paper cones with wooden forks, from Belgium. On a scale of 10, I'd give them a 10 for taste and a 9 1/2 for authenticity! They use canola oil for frying rather than beef tallow. I think this makes them tastier. The nice thing about the restaurant being in the beach area is that you can take your fries to go and eat them while you walk down the boardwalk along the beach. They have good sandwiches AND they make another treat from the Netherlands - krokets. They have Belgian waffles in the morning and serve imported soda and fruit jucies from Holland and Belgium. Now I'm hungry. Gotta run - I'm headed out for some Belgain fries.