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Nov 8, 2013 04:16 AM

Best French Fries in Europe by City - and their sauces...

What are the most popular shops in Europe that specialize in french fries?

I understand Balthazar in New York City has some of the best in the USA. Looking to make a list of the absolute best places in Europe so I may visit.

Also in countries like Belgium, what kind of sauces are offered other than mayo?

I believe Remia Fritessaus is the standard mayo there?

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  1. typical sauces in Belgium: mayo (a bit different than its neighbour in the north), garlic mayo, ketchup, stewed meat with gravy (usually contains horse meat, percentage varies), sate, curry ketchup, curry mayo, mayo + chili sauce. too many to list. also, in Liège one can eat boulets-frites (chips with meat balls and gravy).

    typical sauces in Netherlands: mayo, 'frietssaus' (sauce), sate + raw minced onions, curry ketchup etc.

    i've never seen anyone eat chips with ketchup alone. have tried most of the sauces in both countries but prefer my chips plain.

    1. A quick overview of some of the typical sauces for fries in Belgium, most of them mayo based:
      - Mayo (more lemony/vinagry than your average Hellman's)
      - Dutch Mayo (sweeter than the regular mayo, like the Remia Fritessauce you mention)
      - Tartare
      - Garlic mayo
      - Curry mayo
      - Samourai (spicy mayo)
      - Andalouse (mayo with puree of bell peppers and cayenne, not spicy)
      - Tomato ketchup (yes it it sounds silly, but used to distinguish from the next sauce, typically this is not Heinz but usually Zeissner, a German brand of very sweet ketchup, almost not tomato flavor)
      - Curry ketchup (contains some typical curry spices, but not hot, still very sweet)
      - Tomagrec (tomate paste based sauce)
      - Curry sauce (Chinese/Indonesian curry, watery and very mild)
      - Meat gravy (this is the sauce from Carbonades a la flamande, a beef stew typically made with dark beer, though for most friteries this is the industrial kind so it's a dark brown gravy with hints of sweetness). It should not contain horse meat, but then again all friterie meat is really mysterious).
      - mustard (think a more vinegary dijon but with less kick)

      There are loads more, but these are the main ones. Some typical combinations are:
      Meat gravy (with/without meat chunks) and mayo
      Special: mayo with ketchup and chopped raw onions
      Tartare and pickled small silverskin onions

      In Brussels you can get a mitraillete (translates as machine gun): it's a baguette filled with meat (could be a burger, merguez sausages or whatever you fancy) with a sauce of your choosing, salad and topped with heaps of fries.

      The best fries are those cooked in tallow. Unfortunately there are not a lot of places in Belgium that continue this tradition (too expensive, turns rancid too quickly, have to change it more often than vegetable oil, less healthy, allergens, religious or dietary restrictions, etc.

      Fries cooked in tallow are heavier, but oh so tasty. A couple of years ago I ate at The Publican in Chicago and immediately recognized that their fries were fried in tallow and complemented the waiter on being the real deal (also their extensive Belgian beer list)

      4 Replies
      1. re: estilker

        What a lovely list, but don't forget pili pili!

        1. re: estilker

          In Belgium, that beef tallow gives the best frites is generally beyond question. Even before biting into them, the golden colour tells how they are fried.

          Tallow is not so difficult to source. The real traditionalist will say however that rendered horse fat is the real thing but, even if horse meat is readily available, I can't ever recall eating frites fried in horse fat.

          1. re: kerriar

            I do find the potato makes a big difference as well. In Canada I used Russets or Yukon Golds (fried in tallow of course), in the UK Maris Piper, but nothing comes close to the elusive bintje.

            1. re: estilker

              Estilker - you'll know then that, in the UK, the best chips are fried in beef dripping or lard. But it's a declining market and most chippies now fry in oil (which, of course, means they don't limit their customer base by excluding vegetarians).

        2. Best fries I've had in Europe were the double-fried thick cut chips I ordered in Ireland in villages outside the big cities, at pubs (rather than fry specialists- edit- sorry- didn't notice the specialist part of your post until after I posted.)

          1. I still can not find any shop selling fries better than the ones I make at home. Better quality potatoes and fried in extra virgin olive oil.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Giannis

              Interesting. I generally prefer an oil that is more neutral in flavor. Well... when I can't have duck fat, goose fat or lard, that is.

            2. Best in the UK - Seniors in Thornton, Lancashire. Fosters in Alderley Edge, Cheshire would be a close second. Both winners of national awards.

              They serve British chips, rather than the thin continental style (similar to American fast food fries), so that might make them off-topic for this thread.

              We don't usually serve sauce with our chips (except ketchup) but do drench them in malt vinegar.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Harters

                'We' being English, of course. In Edinburgh, there's 'salt and sauce' (brown sauce)-- although the fact that there is no charge for that, but charge for ketchup, has yielded some staunch protest from visiting Glaswegians: