by Rick Conti
Disclaimer time. The author, an occasional contributor to this blog, is an uncultured barbarian when it comes to all things cuisine. I wouldn’t know a foie gras from a fra diavolo if my life depended on it. Hopefully, it never will.
My tastes (to use the term in its broadest sense) run more to the pedestrian, the lowbrow, the mundane. I’m not necessarily proud of it, but I won’t shirk from my identity. In Popeye’s words, “I yam what I yam” (though I don’t eat yams either… or spinach).
There are a limited number of food items about which I feel qualified to opine, but one of them is the humble fried potato, a.k.a. French fries, or if I want to put on airs appropriate to the Vineyard, pomme frites. On a recent visit to the Vineyard, I sampled this delicacy at several different eateries. I’m pleased to say that, if you want a fine French fry, you’ll find a great selection on the island. Here are a few of my favorite selections:
Henry’s at the Harborview in Edgartown has fantastic hand cut fries. (Side note: Why would anyone serve frozen fries?) They come in three varieties: regular, Maine sea salt and vinegar, and truffle and parmesan. (That last selection is a little hoity-toity, I realize, but even we Philistines must make accommodations when it comes to a good fry.) All these choices are delicious, especially when they accompany a good burger, and Henry’s burgers are very good indeed. (More on burgers in a future post.)
The State Road Restaurant in West Tisbury is another fine restaurant with an impressive menu that is completely lost on my taste buds. The frites, however, can be enjoyed by lowlife and highlife alike. These fresh cut beauties are worth savoring on their own, but if you really must have them with your “Pancetta wrapped bluefish” or “wood grilled Menemsha squid”, feel free. But you’re on your own from my perspective.
I have a particular fondness for one fry that is not remotely French. The “Bite Fries” at the Bite in Menemsha are bite-(what else?)-sized chunks of baked potatoes fried to a perfect crisp. They’re an unforgettable accompaniment to the simple but wonderful menu at this humble hideaway at the ocean’s edge.
At the other end of the size spectrum are the shoestring fries. The Atlantic in Edgartown serves up a huge side of those slender spuds that are impossible to resist. Another surprising find was Saltwater in Vineyard Haven. They also have done wonders with shoestring fries. I had to bring home half of my sandwich because I’d gorged myself on pommes frites.
I’m sure there are plenty more quality fries to sample. It’s a reporter’s burden to be complete in his research, so I’ll keep pushing ahead with my quest.
If I don’t die of clogged arteries in the meantime.
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