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Nov 2, 2008 06:53 AM

Best Fries and Gravy?

Yes, I'm having that Fries with Gravy craving again.
... and I'm wondering who YOU think makes the best fries with gravy in the GTA?

First, some rules -
1) if you've ever said "I really like these coated, frozen, crispy fries!" you're disqualified from posting to this discussion. They are an abomination, and Mr. McCain will surely pay dearly in the afterlife for his transgressions against humanity.

2) if you've ever said "Yuck, these fries are brown, and they taste like beef fat or grease, not light, white and crispy like Burger King" you are likewise disqualified. Fries are supposed to taste like beef fat, (or duck fat, or some kind of yummy non-vegetable-fat!) and mahogany brown is the penultimate colour of really great french fries.

OK, so I'm looking for real, fresh-cut fries, with a nice dark beefy gravy. I'll admit, I've enjoyed frozen fries on occasion if the gravy was exceptional, just as great fries can be ruined by cheap powdered-mix gravy. Does anyone get both just right?

So, post away - let's hear from you all!

To get the discussion started, here's a few contenders worthy of debate:

- McSorleys on Bayview - used to be great - huge basket, fresh cut with skin-on, yummy beefy gravy - gone WAY downhill lately.

- Wexford restaurant - Warden & Lawrence - very hit and miss quality-wise, but when they are good, they are very, very good.

- Massey's in Pickering - also inconsistent, but usually excellent, lighter gravy, but tasty, and solid fresh-cut fries (and the best steak-on-a-kaiser on the planet).

- Front Street "Chunky Fries" wagon - the one with the Canadian Flag on the back, and the big, loud, charming "Shower Boy" inside - great beefeater style fresh-cut fries, with yummy dark gravy (and free peppers and chopped onion on top, if you're into it) - solid contender, but sporadic hours makes it tough to count on.

- Just a non-TO note - recent standout is Elgin Street Diner in Ottawa - exceptional skinny fries, fantastic gravy, and real, squeaky cheese curds made for a yummy "poo-tin-ny" lunch!

- Golden Star Burger on Yonge and Real McCoy's in Scarberia - truly exceptional fries, outstanding "home-burgers" but both suffer from weak pre-mix gravy, with Real McCoy's better than Golden Star, whose gravy is really, really bad.

Yes, I am obsessed, and I could go on and on.... but over to you - so, what are your faves?

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  1. Caplansky's. Beef & chicken (both real) gravy with bits of smoked meat, fresh cut fries cooked dark brown, though in vegetable oil.

    6 Replies
    1. re: embee

      Second Caplansky's fries. The man knows what he's doing and he does it well. Crisp, salty, brown and perfect. Ladle some of his superb gravy overtop and you my friend have a delicious dish.

      Hmmm. He's open today...guess it's time to go for a walk...

      1. re: embee

        Nothing wrong with using vegetable oil, if it is filtered, changed frequently, and not abused with too much heat. Some animal fats are more forgiving, but they can easily be stretched too far, as well.

        What I find puzzling about fries with gravy, or poutine, is the sloppy, soggy mess in the bowl. The crispy exterior of the fry is gone, and so is fresh potato taste. I'll take a platter of steak frites, even after midnight in the entertainment district, instead of soggy fries..

        1. re: jayt90

          well your avatar is not so monsterish anymore ;-> but still somewhat reddish...

          I like the fries at OIde Yorke F&C, I think they use beef fat, not totally sure. Definitely, the fries are on the dark side. It's on the menu but I haven't tried their gravy, being a malt vinegar fan when devouring fish & chips.

          1. re: jayt90

            What I find puzzling is the crazy obsession with crispy that some folks have.
            It's gotten so bad that apparently even shellacking fries with artificial crispy coating after freezing and processing the hell out of them has somehow become acceptable to many.

            Oddly, baked potatoes, and mashed potatoes aren't crispy, and they still have fresh potato taste. Plus we typically add condiments and toppings to create a new combined flavour. Gravy doesn't detract flavour from fries anymore than butter or sour cream kills a baked potato or roasted garlic ruins mashed potatoes.

            I'll take great taste and great flavour, over just crispy anytime. The flavour from the carmelization of the sugars in the potato when cooked golden brown is awesome, combined with the mellow beef gravy - fantastic!

            Sure I love them plain, or with salt & vinegar, or ketchup, or with Gravy.
            Expand your horizons, Jay, embrace the soggy!
            (or eat faster, mine never have time to get soggy :-)

            1. re: TorontoTips

              If you're going to pour gravy over your fries I'd like them to have some crispiness to offset the moisture of the gravy.

              I definitely agree that I have had some awesome fries that arrived golden brown but lacked much of an outer crust. I'd prefer these plain with some salt and a spritz of vinegar, if you were to add gravy, the flavour would be there but the texture becomes a soggy mess in a hurry.

              I guess like anything, it's a matter of preference. I do agree about eating them faster!

            2. re: jayt90

              a nice way around this is to get the gravy on the side...

          2. I have been a fan of Buster Rhino's fries, I'm fairly certain their gravy is prepackaged. I think they stand up on their own or with a splash of ketchup. Excellent crisp fries which come nice and salty.


            1. imho the best fries are from the Real McCoy Burgers & Pizza, at 1033 Markham Road, Scarborough. This little place will go through over 1,200 lbs of Yukon gold potatoes per week. Sometimes at the end of summer they can’t find any Yukon Gold potatoes, and use whatever they can find. Since I’m allergic to beef I do not eat gravy when I’m out, so I’m unsure how the gravy tastes. Since I know they make their own burger, too hear you say that the gravy is weak pre-mix gravy is sad. I miss this little place since moving from the east to the west. I’d stop by and pick up a large order of fries and eat them in the car. The best fries imho!

              3 Replies
              1. re: Pastryrocks

                Hey Pastry,
                I agree 100% about Real McCoy's - OUTSTANDING fries, and I think they make THE best take-out home-burger anywhere in this city.
                (my fave is the hand-patted banquet burger, called the MoJo Burger).
                Believe it not, they make a pretty great hand-tossed pizza, too.
                Say hi to George when you're there - he's now the 2nd generation to run the place, and a really great guy (that I went to high school with almost 30 years ago, believe it or not).

                1. re: Pastryrocks

                  Agreed!!! And the gravy is really good, too. This has been my favourite fries and gravy for 30 years now.

                  1. Believe it or not, I find New York fries version very very good, especially the slighty sweet thick dark gravy!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      Me too even without the Gravy...I am a gonner when I hit a Mall that has a New York Fries....Malt Vinegar and lots of salt......and I DON't Share easily!!

                    2. Have not been in years but the fries & gravey at Spirits at Church and Bloor were really good.. they would do curly fries in a basket with gravey on the side.. that along with all you can eat wings and I was in heaven...